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So I just came across this device: enter image description here There's even pictures of people hacking their own together: enter image description here

How does this work? Does it require drivers or a specific OS? If not, how is the USB protocol sent over an Ethernet port? I'm considering doing this to attach a keyboard to a motherboard on which all the USB ports died.

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  • How about adding a PCI or PCIe USB card to your PC? There is a convertor chip inside that device no matter how small it is.
    – cybernard
    Feb 4 '17 at 16:00
  • @cybernard that's the weird thing with this motherboard... adding a PCI usb card doesn't work either. See my question on it here: superuser.com/questions/1172527/no-usb-ports-work/…
    – Blaine
    Feb 4 '17 at 16:13
  • This is USB to RJ45. I'm not used to seeing USB to male RJ45, rather to female. You use them as extender, for instance I can run some devices 20m from the computer using Cat5 cables (not meaning ANY USB device could run, you will have power issues among others). Sep 21 '20 at 11:31
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This is NOT an magical "convert any USB device into a Network device" thing.
(Even though the link you provided claims so. The firm selling these is making fraudulent claims. When you look at the reviews on that site you will see a lot of people complaining that it doesn't work.)

USB protocol and ethernet protocols are completely incompatible and a passive wiring plug (like these) can not convert one into the other.

What you can do is cobble to together a converter to wire an USB plug onto an UTP cable so you can transfer the USB signal over existing UTP cabling. (And if the UTP cable is of good quality you may even be able to cover more distance than the USB standard normally allows.)

USB to Ethernet converters do exist, but they usually come in the form of a USB hub with an additional ethernet connection. On the PC side you need to install a special driver that links the networked USB-hub to a software generated fake USB-controller on the PC. This way that PC thinks that the USB devices plugged into the converter are locally connected to an internal USB controller.
These can be fairly expensive (think $150 or more) and are most often used in companies that have a VMWare ESX cluster. When virtual machines in such a cluster need access to USB devices (e.g. a USB dongle that acts as license key for some software) you don't want to move the USB-device to another host in the ESX cluster every time you move the VM to another host. Using such a networked USB-hub the VM can find the USB-device across the LAN regardless of on which host the VM is located.

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  • "The firm selling these is making fraudulent claims." -- You're the one making the false claims. The item description is factual, and does state "Can be used to connect a USB ADSL modem to a router with a RJ45 socket." Just because you and the OP didn't read the item description carefully and misunderstood its purpose, doesn't make the item fraudulent.
    – sawdust
    Feb 4 '17 at 22:15
  • What kind of common router has an RJ45 port that accepts USB signals on the pins?
    – LawrenceC
    Feb 4 '17 at 23:57
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How does this work?

Not the way you want it to.

100BASE-T Ethernet only uses four wires.
So that leaves four unused wires in a Cat5 cable.
Several ADSL modems provide both an Ethernet and a USB connection to the host PC through a single RJ-45 connector.

A brand of UPSes also uses a similar RJ45-to-USB cable. See Can you help me identify this USB cable?

Does it require drivers or a specific OS? If not, how is the USB protocol sent over an Ethernet port? I'm considering doing this to attach a keyboard to a motherboard on which all the USB ports died.

You are completely misunderstanding the purpose and application of this adapter.
It does not allow you to transform an Ethernet port on your PC into a USB port.

If you do not have an ADSL modem that you prefer to connect by USB rather than Ethernet, then this adapter is of no use to you.

Apparently you're asking an XY question.
USB is a bus, to which you can attach other devices/controllers, whereas the Ethernet controller must attach to a bus.
There is no method to turn a network connection (e.g. Ethernet) into a bus (e.g. USB or PCI).
The motherboard has to be repaired or an expansion board can be installed to provide new USB ports.

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They are supposed to be Plug and Play - so generally don't need specific drivers.

I've used this before, it creates a print server over ethernet from USB and does use drivers. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-USB-2-0-Port-Print-Server-Share-LAN-Networking-Network-Ethernet-Hub-printer-/271890367888?hash=item3f4dedc590:g:bhsAAOSwKrhVb8vI

Ethernet is used a lot to transfer files outside of a network - especially over long distances where you can run long lengths and connect with a network switch. Much longer than you can with USB.

You can connect video cameras with it and even stage lighting and control boards - because it runs power and instructions and can be well shielded (and is low voltage so pretty safe).

I've just done a quick search and this link has some good info: http://www.tech-faq.com/usb-to-ethernet-adapter.html

this also is interesting: http://plugable.com/2015/04/21/selecting-the-right-usb-ethernet-adapter-for-your-computer-and-network/

To control the mouse or keyboard etc through the Ethernet (not the other way round), you WILL need some control software - like this: http://www.eltima.com/products/usb-over-ethernet/

Bit of a faff though.

Given the internal PCIE card option seems to be out for you on this mobo, I wonder if there is a SATA connector, that connects to USB? Do your SATA ports work?

Here is another link to talking about turning USB I/O into IP payloads and transmitting them through ethernet. This is getting very interesting! http://usbip.sourceforge.net/

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  • You are talking about usb to ethernet, which I know exists. I'm talking about the reverse of this. Plugging ethernet into your motherboard and getting a usb port from it.
    – Blaine
    Feb 4 '17 at 16:15
  • commenting in wrong box! Ive added above a link to a controller software for this.
    – APe
    Feb 4 '17 at 16:41

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