Upgrade to OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) Will Likely Break Existing Multi-Monitor Setups that Use Plugable USB Display Adapters and Docking Stations

Testing by Plugable of Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) has exposed changes that will break multi-monitor setups that use Plugable USB display adapters or docking stations for more than one monitor. This includes configurations that are currently working under OS X 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion) and 10.7.5 (Lion). The testing was done on the Golden Master prerelease version of OS X 10.9 (13A598).

Plugable USB display adapters and docking stations use DisplayLink chipsets that send video information through USB to connected monitors. Changes in OS X version 10.9 appear to allow this process to work for only a single additional monitor- for a total of 2 displays.  Adding a 3rd display seems to create issues with the display arrangement- specifically, forcing all the displays to operate in “mirror” mode rather than as “extended” displays, and losing the software settings that relate to the physical arrangement of the monitors.  Currently, the only consistent workaround available is to manually reconfigure display arrangement whenever this error is encountered. Connecting only one display at a time may (or may not, behavior varies) help.

Support for DisplayLink-based USB display adapters was also broken in early versions of OS X 10.8, but were largely corrected in later versions. We suspect support will improve in a similar way for later versions of OS X 10.9.

For OS X customers with more than two displays- even if only one is USB attached via a Plugable dock or adapter- we recommend *not* upgrading to OS X 10.9 at this time.  Especially if everything is functioning under the earlier version you are using, the launch version of Mavericks will likely create new issues.

We will test each new revision to OS X 10.9 as it comes out and will update our blog and other information outlets when these issues have been successfully addressed. We appreciate everyone’s patience with this- efforts to resolve this issue are ongoing.  Subscribe to email updates on our blog, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for news as it develops.

4 comments on “Upgrade to OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) Will Likely Break Existing Multi-Monitor Setups that Use Plugable USB Display Adapters and Docking Stations”

  1. Pedro Reply

    I upgraded to OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), I had two displays working perfectly before the upgrade, one with a HDMI to DVI and another with a USB to DVI. The USB to DVI connection is not recognized. Any new updates how to correct this issue?

  2. Joe Reply

    Just curious…if you’re a well established company that provides a good product, how is it that you do not have an Apple Developer account to allow you early access to Mavericks so that you can appropriately serve your customers? I find it rather odd that I have a USB 3.0 monitor adapter that won’t work properly on Mavericks because of the lack of attention to detail by Pluggable. This really should be embarrassing for you.

    • David Roberts David Roberts Reply

      Hi Joe,
      Thank you for your comment. These are valid questions. We have an Apple Developer account and have been testing each release of Mavericks as soon as it was available. We have also been working constantly with DisplayLink, the maker of the chips we use in our USB display adapters, to identify and address issues as we discovered them. However, since the most serious of those issues are caused by regressions in Mavericks itself, they can only be addressed by Apple. There is an interesting article about this here http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/10/os-x-mavericks-breaks-multi-monitor-setups-with-some-usb-displays/.

      What has happened with Mavericks also happened with Mountain Lion. With the release of a major update, Apple made changes to the operating system that broke display over USB. With Mountain Lion, Apple fixed those issues with later revisions over a period of months, until in version 10.8.5, USB display worked with only a few issues remaining, primarily with hardware acceleration. We expect that over time, Apple will address the issues in Mavericks, just as they did in Mountain Lion, and in later revisions they will be resolved. We can’t predict how long this will take. You can view a list of revisions to Mountain Lion and the issues they fixed on the DisplayLink site here http://www.displaylink.com/support/ticket.php?id=333.

      Our continued testing of multi-monitor support in the release version of Mavericks has shown that the some of the display bugs in Mavericks are not limited to USB display only, but also affect displays that are connected directly to the computer using HDMI. Please see our blog post on this issue at http://plugable.com/2013/10/22/multiple-monitor-issues-with-os-x-10-9-mavericks.

      We will continue to monitor the situation, and post the latest information in our blogs.

    • Bernie Thompson Bernie Thompson Reply

      Hi Joe – I understand your frustration. We have an Apple developer account. We ran 10.9 early. We reported bugs to Apple’s bug reporting system. We never got a response. So all we could do was put up clear information about what’s working and not in Mavericks (which we did in a scramble on the surprise launch day).

      We’ve emailed every contact we can find in Apple in the past, and over several years have never gotten a response to a request for information, a bug report, or an offer to send free product to Apple. I would *love* to give free hardware to the developers and testers down at one infinite loop, since that’s the best way to make sure things work and keep working. We’ve never gotten a reply (but if anyone from Apple reads this, please contact us!).

      With Mavericks, there are several regressions from 10.8.5. Some can be fixed or worked around by DisplayLink (I believe DisplayLink can improve performance on 10.9 with a driver update). But there are several Apple bugs that DisplayLink likely can’t work around — the main one being loss of display configuration / drop back to mirror in many circumstances with and without USB graphics (just see the other comments on this thread). DisplayLink has several others they’ve reported, including some kind of framebuffer mapping issue with Apple’s APIs that regressed in 10.9. See http://www.displaylink.com/support/ticket.php?id=354 for DisplayLink’s current list (which they express in terms of end-user behavior).

      As the owner of a small company that wants to provide solutions in the Apple 3rd party hardware ecosystem, I wish Apple would communicate. I think their lack of communication puts their customers and partners in an impossible spot.

      Have you contacted Apple about the problems you’re seeing with Mavericks? What was their reply?

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