I’ve been getting this question a lot lately - “Can I use USB devices or dongles inside a Virtual Machine on ESX?”
The out-of-the-box answer is No. USB devices are not supported within the VM on ESX 3.5. That being said, there are a few companies that have gotten excellent reviews and are very popular on the VMware Community Forums that provide USB functionality.
The most popular way of presenting USB devices in Virtual Machines on ESX that I’ve heard/seen is from Digi International, which has a product called AnywhereUSB. Follow the link for additional info on the product.
They have also published a VMware Branded Technical Note (whitepaper) entitled VMware ESX Server: Using AnywhereUSB to Connect USB Devices
FabulaTech is another popular way. A good post regarding it can be found here:
Update to the post:
I came across a recent post over at VMetc mentioning a couple more temporary plus permanent options for using USB over IP:
A few other links of companies that have gotten good reviews to allow USB access in VM’s:
http://www.kernelpro.com/usb-over-ethernet.html (Inexpensive, starts at $89!)
http://usbip.sourceforge.net (Open Source Project for USB over IP)