Plugable suggests DisplayLink users wait on macOS Sierra Upgrade [Updated]

On September 20, 2016, Apple released a new operating system, macOS Sierra (10.12), and as with all other operating system upgrades while there can be exciting new features, there is also the potential for new issues with existing hardware and software.

Update 11/21/16: The second Beta of 10.12.2 (build 16C41b) improves behavior even further and appears to fix two key outstanding bugs: Mission Control no longer crashes when DisplayLink is present, and the temporary corruption of window contents (“black window”) on DisplayLink-attached displays is significantly reduced.

Update 11/11/16: The first Beta of macOS 10.12.2 appears to offer improved behavior. Early results indicate spontaneous logouts during full-screen transitions have been eliminated or drastically reduced. We are hopeful this improved behavior will persist as new Beta versions are released in the coming weeks. The key remaining issue observed in 10.12.2 Beta 1 is some windows turn black when dragged to a DisplayLink-attached displays. Clicking or interacting with the window or application generally resolves the behavior.

We’re continuing to track the remaining issues and hope Apple chooses to resolve them quickly. If you’re a Plugable user experiencing issues with Sierra and wish to be contacted when we have additional information, please send an email to support@plugable.com and we’ll be glad to provide updates as things develop.

Update 10/26/16: The final release of 10.12.1 appears to have fixed many of the performance-related regressions and graphical glitches found in earlier versions of Sierra. Issues are still present, however, involving full-screen transitions used by various applications such as Mission Control, Itunes, hot corners, and others.

Update 10/21/16: After Beta 2, things regressed again. In Beta 5, there are reports of DisplayLink displays not working at all. See DisplayLink’s Mac Forum for more details.

Update 9/30/16: Apple’s pre-release update to Sierra (“10.12.1 Beta 2”) improves many of the problematic Sierra behavior outlined below. Please see Workarounds at the bottom of the page for instructions on how to enroll in Apple’s Beta Software Program.

Background

With regard to Plugable’s DisplayLink-based USB video adapters and docking stations there’s been a long history of Mac OS upgrades starting with OS X 10.9 causing undesirable behavior, and we have written extensively about these issues over the years:
Multiple Monitor Issues with OS X 10.9/Mavericks
Plugable products on 10.10/Yosemite
Notes on DisplayLink’s previous Mac beta driver

Due to these issues, from OS X 10.9 onward we actually stopped recommending our DisplayLink-based products on Mac for most users. (Though with a few very specific exceptions for certain products such as the UD-ULTCDL Triple Display Docking Station where the lower performance of the second and third displays is less impactful given the uncompromised native-GPU performance of the primary/Alt Mode HDMI output.)

Even still, many Mac users felt the benefits of multiple monitors outweighed the various issues related to USB graphics on OS X, and subsequent DisplayLink driver updates had resolved most of the key outstanding bugs while continuing to improve performance. All told, the state of DisplayLink on Mac had improved dramatically over the past year.

Sierra Regressions

With the latest macOS Sierra (10.12) and the accompanying Sierra-compatible release of DisplayLink’s driver version 2.6 for Mac we are sad to say that the trend of new macOS versions posing challenges for DisplayLink users continues unabated, and unfortunately there appear to be significant regressions as many bugs previously fixed by DisplayLink have returned.

DisplayLink has detailed release notes with the current known issues and limitations and have also provided a knowledgebase article with more information here. Some of the most significant known issues documented by DisplayLink:

  • Incomplete rendering of window contents in some applications, for example Safari and App Store
  • Black contents in applications windows when moved to a DisplayLink screen
  • Internal screen blank at login with password when USB screens are connected
  • Graphical corruption and/or missing windows contents in some applications and window borders
  • The window server can crash logging our the user when minimizing applications, for example iTunes or Mission Control

DisplayLink has stated that in order to help improve things bringing these issues to Apple’s attention is required and is actively encouraging any users affected by these issues to open bug reports with Apple (details are in the knowledge-base article above) so Apple can appropriately prioritize the resolution of these issues.

Until such time as the above key issues can be addressed, we strongly recommend any Plugable customers using DisplayLink-based products to not upgrade to macOS Sierra at this time. Please feel free to comment below or email us at support@plugable.com with any additional questions or feedback.

Workarounds

Option 1, rolling back to 10.11: For those who have already installed Sierra and wish to roll-back to El Capitan, imore has published a guide covering the (unfortunately somewhat lengthy and complex) process.

Option 2, installing 10.12.2 Beta 2: Many of the issues listed above are resolved with a beta/pre-release Sierra update from Apple.

Please note that Beta software, by definition, has bugs and known-issues. DisplayLink USB graphics behavior is drastically improved with this beta, but there could be other applications which behave unexpectedly or not at all after installing this pre-release Operating System.

For those who wish to install 10.12.2 Beta 2, follow Apple’s steps below to enroll in their free beta program:

  1. Head over to: https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/
  2. Sign up for the program by logging in with your Apple ID
  3. Scroll down to the “Get Started” section, click the “enroll your Mac” link
  4. Scroll down to the “Download the public beta access utility” section and click the link to download the utility
  5. After downloading the utility, run the utility and follow the instructions
  6. After you’ve completed enrollment, the Mac App Store will launch to display the Updates pane. You can click the Update button to install the latest macOS public beta. If there is not a macOS public beta available, you will receive a notification from the Mac App Store when it is released.

22 comments on “Plugable suggests DisplayLink users wait on macOS Sierra Upgrade [Updated]”

  1. Gary Zeller Reply

    Apologies for the timing, Ryan — we aim to get this type of OS-specific information posted as quick as possible. In this instance DisplayLink didn’t release their final 2.6 drivers until the day prior to the Sierra launch, which presented a challenging time frame for testing.

    For those who wish to roll back to 10.11/El Capitan, we’ve updated our post with a link that covers the (unfortunately somewhat lengthy) process.

  2. James Harold Reply

    What a shame, I have been so impressed with the Plugable display links. I have a 2015 MacBook with the USB-C connection and no one knew how to get three monitors hooked up to it. Prior to upgrading to OS Sierra this set-up worked a dream. I have had a 3 screen set-up working fantastically but unfortunately I upgraded and I am running OS Sierra, the 2 additional screens are very slow and frustrating to use. The main screen is still find which is native HDMI but the screens running via the pluggable adaptors are affected. Please, please, please release an updated driver to resolve this performance issue…..

    • Joshua Henry Joshua Henry Reply

      Hi James,

      To our understanding these issues are a regression in the new macOS and that Apple will need to resolve the problem behind the scenes. It appears that DisplayLink may be very limited in terms of what they can do to resolve the issue at this current time. There is a way to roll back to El Capitan from Sierra, but it’s a somewhat complex process.

  3. Jan Knudsen Reply

    I received the dock the day after I upgraded to Sierra, and it’s too buggy to be used with my MacBook.

    Are you aware of any plans to update the DisplayLink SW, or are they waiting for Apple to release an update to macOS first? If this is the case, it will take a long time before we have a fix.

    • Bernie Thompson Bernie Thompson Reply

      Unfortunately, our understanding is it’s a performance regressions in Apple’s API. There’s nothing DisplayLink can do about it. That unfortunately means avoiding the Sierra upgrade if possible and waiting for Apple to fix the regression.

  4. Perimedia Group Reply

    I suffered the same fate as those above. i was extremely happy when I hooked up my 2012 MacBook pro with Displaylink DVI>HMI and had 3 monitors working. My happiness was a short lived.. I updated my MacBook to Sierra just a few days after I bought my Displaylink and suffered major issues for days until I discovered the problem was the Displaylink. There was considerable time that the manufacturer could have made this problem know to Amazon and other sellers. Now I am stuck with a BRICK…
    Is the customer suppose to make Apple create a remedy. Or Is DisplayLink working with Apple for a driver fix? !!!
    In the meantime the manufacturer should inform their retailers that Sierra does not work with Mac Sierra.

  5. Robert Coop Reply

    Unfortunately the latest Sierra Beta doesn’t seem to fix the performance issues. I get terrible update rates using beta release 16B2548a

  6. JP Reply

    Dear friends at Pugable:

    I really enjoy using the ud-ultcdl with my MacBook 12″, even though the primary monitor flicks a lot (some times more than other times and can be disruptive – is this normal? It does not happen to the display link port).

    I currently use one at my home office and was about to buy a second one for my work place, as it is very convenient to just plug and play. While I do not need all three monitors, I do use two (the primary – alt mode hdmi – and one of the display link ports – also hdmi). I have not yet upgraded to the latest macOS but will need to do it soon for other reasons.

    However, I must say that I feel a bit uncomfortable with the regressions and assuming they are not to be resolved by Apple anytime soon, would I still be able to run the primary (alt mode hdmi) monitor alone without any compromise whatsoever?

    Thanks for your support and attention.
    JP

    • Joshua Henry Joshua Henry Reply

      Hello JP,

      Flickering on the “HDMI 4K” alternate mode port is not normal, though is a common issue we run into. It can be caused by several things and I suggest reaching out to our support team at support@plugable.com.

      Moving to Sierra will not affect the alt mode output. Only the DisplayLink “HDMI 2K” and DVI ports.

      Thank you!

      • Marc Posner Reply

        By “flickering” are we referencing screen blanking for 1-2 seconds? I was assuming this was the regression issue that was being referenced.

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Hi Marc,

          Yes ‘flickering’ refers to the screen blanking momentarily. In the context of the earlier conversation, Josh is correct in that the HDMI 4K output of the UD-ULTCDL is being driven by the DisplayPort Alternate mode available via USB-C, so it should not be affected by the DisplayLink driver and the elements originally referenced in the blog post.

          Thank you,

          Bob

          • Marc Posner

            Thank you, Bob. I was experiencing this issue on DVI on a VERY old monitor running over an ADC connector, so I purchased a new HDMI monitor. The issue was largely under control running over HDMI 4k, but it has been insatiable lately. I have a pre-July version so I will see it it’s resolved with the new box. I appreciate the clarification and reply.

            Marc

          • Marc Posner

            The issue is improved, but not resolved with the new triple dock. I’m still running on the 4K channel and on Sierra 10.12.1. I was considering deleting all the .plist files (i.e. com.displaylink.displaylinkmanager.plist) and reinstalling the DisplayLink driver. Any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

  7. Daniël Ducro Reply

    Don’t install beta 5! After installing this beta my USB monitors are unusable. I can move the mouse, but no interaction with windows, the screen is just frozen.. Hope Apple fixes this soon, now I regret updating to Sierra.

  8. Michael Reply

    The official (non-beta) release of 10.12.1 is available. Since installing Sierra before seeing this blog post I’ve had display issues. Will installing this update fix any of those?

    • Gary Zeller Reply

      Hi Michael,

      [Update 10/26/16] We’ve done some further testing of 10.12.1 (final), and behavior does seem improved compared to the initial Sierra release. Applications such as Mission Control and other functions which utilize full-screen transitions can still be problematic and cause crashes, but overall performance is much improved.

      From our limited testing so far, several of the key issues are still present in 10.12.1 (release/non-beta).

      Unfortunately with no visibility into Apple’s process, it’s difficult to say if the improved behavior in earlier betas was an attempt to fix these issues, or simply an unintended outcome from other changes they were testing.

      In the meantime, DisplayLink is still encouraging users to submit bug reports to Apple so they can get a sense of how impactful these issues are.

  9. Jan Knudsen Reply

    After upgrading to 10.12.2 beta 2 (16C41b) it seems like my problem with windows moved to the secondary screen turning black i now gone.

    I have not identified any other problems so far with this version.

    Jan

    • Gary Zeller Reply

      Thanks Jan! We’re seeing great results in our testing of Beta 2 (16C41b) as well, and user reports on the DisplayLink forums seem to share this sentiment.

      Hopefully these fixes remain intact through 10.12.2 release.

  10. CharonPDX Reply

    DisplayLink has released a driver 3.0 beta 1 that seems to completely resolve the “black screen” issues on Sierra 10.12.2 beta 2, but some of the “graphical glitches” have returned.

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