Have you tried the USP/Ip project? It's hosted at http://sourceforge.net/projects/usbip/
Other than that I haven't seen any USB over IP solutions for Linux. Not everything is a fit for ESX, but if you're running fine on VMware Server why not leave those few guests there? Future releases of Virtualcenter will include the ability to manage VMware Server hosts in the same management server as ESX.
as usbip is described as being "pre-aplha" version is does not seem very smart to use it on production server. Guess will keep the free server after all.
http://www.incentivespro.com/usb-server.html. Looks like you put the usb devs on a windows box, buy their windows sharing software and use the usb server for linux to access them. So theoretically you coulod use AnywhereUSB and this product to allow linux access with the windows app in between http://www.incentivespro.com/usb-redirector.html and keep everything virtual.
Somebody fix this mess. This is getting ugly.
The upside is that you could put your usb devs on a physical server and skip the AnywhereUSB part with this sw and save $300 bones.
So in this case we need:
1. Separate Windows BOX (may be 2 for redundancy). They could not be installed as Guest server on ESX server because of USB limitation ;(
2. A Linux OS running as Guest inside ESX. But there is no Linux Client software: In the dowload list "http://www.incentivespro.com/downloads.html" I see only windows Clients. Also in the instrustions "http://www.incentivespro.com/usb-server.html" these is information how to share a resource. Not even a word how to access it.
According to the site: "This ABSOLUTELY FREE software product allows to share USB devices working under Linux OS and let other users to work with these devices as if they are connected directly to their computers."
The question still remains - how to access USB from Linux inside ESX server ?!?
Well, not really. As Jae just said, if you use AnywhereUSB you can connect the USB device from the Digi-box to a virtual windows server that in turn talk to the virtual linux server. This will make this handle VMotion and other things that you're unable to do with VMware Server. But it's still quite a messy solution.
I also agree that's will be very complicated to administer with too many security, vulnarability, stability and so on issues. It will simply not work in production environment.
Joe said: "...use the usb server for linux to access them..." - I think that is impossible, because it's only server, not client.
But never the less:
How could we use from Linux for example USB smart card reader with smart card ( in Linux we use "pcscd" daemon to access them) from Virtual Windows server ?
I have no idia how to make Linux's "pcsclite" daemon to talk to Windows. Or you mean ESX server running Virtual Windows running Windows WMWare Workstation sharing USB to Linux inside it - 3 in 1 solution ?
Finally: How could we access USB devices (like smart card dongles) from Linux as Guest OS running inside ESX ?
still not answered ...or at least not clear to me
Regardless of Guest OS, it is impossible for a VM running within ESX to access the local USB devices. You must use a remote USB tool like the USB over IP solutions that are available for ESX. This limitation only affects ESX.
Edward L. Haletky, author of the forthcoming 'VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers', publishing January 2008, (c) 2008 Pearson Education.
The solution is to use a USB Device Server that has a Linux driver :
Or build your own :