Category Archives: UGA-2K-A

2014-03-10-14-Monitors

New DisplayLink Windows Driver Version 7.7 Improves Performance and Leaves XP Behind

photo_power_searcherDisplayLink has released their new Windows driver version 7.7 M0. This release contains several fixes for specific hardware combinations (details below) and improves performance especially for 4K Ultra HD (up to 3840×2160) USB multi-monitor graphics adapters like the Plugable UGA-4KDP.

This release is also the first that is Windows Vista or later only. Windows XP users will need to stay on the Windows 7.6 driver series (or earlier). Windows’ graphics driver architecture was very different in Windows XP, causing DisplayLink’s driver to be “two drivers in one”. Dropping XP support in 7.7 allows DisplayLink to focus on and optimize for newer Windows versions. Note that for systems automatically downloading from Windows Update, the correct version will automatically be downloaded for you.

UGA-3000_In use illustrationWe’ve been testing this release since the betas, and have seen stable results. Because the performance differences are most noticeable in modes above 1920×1080, and the previous driver version 7.6 M2 has proven most stable, we’re only going to point users of our 4K adapters immediately to this new driver. For sub-4K adapters, 7.6 M2 is well proven — and of course is essential for XP.

Detailed Release Notes

DisplayLink Software Release R7.7 delivers the following improvements:

- Improved full screen video frame rate and image quality on high resolution screens
- Lower mouse cursor latency on desktop applications
- New embedded firmware upgrade mechanism improving first connect user experience. Visible from future releases.
- Early support for Intel Broadwell platform

Fixed issues since R7.6 M2 (7.6.56275.0)

Monitor EDID was incorrectly interpreted, if the monitor id contained an underscore (_). (17606)

Audio output might not switch to default after disconnecting headphones from DisplayLink device in hibernation (S4). (17401)

On some laptops, the video performance can decrease on DisplayLink screens when a proprietary docking station and a DisplayLink docking station are connected at the same time and the user logs on and off. (16915)

Some platforms running Vista x64 can stop responding after installing DisplayLink Ethernet driver. (17384)

DisplayPort++ to DVI adapters can display incorrect available mode list. (17427)

Occasionally a DisplayLink monitor could be blank after resuming from power saving mode. (17554)

Ethernet UDP performance might drop when playing video and audio over a DisplayLink device. (17579)

Intermittent screen corruption visible when a DisplayLink monitor duplicates a touch screen display in Basic mode on Windows 7 (17782)

Wake on LAN sometimes doesn’t work when DisplayLink device is connected at USB 3.0. This is a regression introduced in 7.6 M2. (17865)

Video and/or Ethernet not available after power state changes on some platforms. Ethernet could show a Yellow “!”, with Error Code 43, in device manager (17896, 17047)

If multiple DL-5xxx or DL-3xxx devices are connected, one device can fail USB enumeration resuming from S4 when connected to USB 2.0 on Windows 7. (17835)

Removed compatibility check which prevented installation if a 3rd party USB graphics solution was connected. Now installation will only be blocked if 3rd party USB graphics drivers are found to be installed. (17763)

DisplayLink USB 2.0 Graphics Adapters on Linux – 2014 Edition

IMG_20140306_164523A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post discussing the state of USB Graphics on Linux systems, specifically, Fedora 18. What follows is an update on the situation, looking at both Fedora 20 and Ubuntu 13.10, and examining how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

The short story

Multi-monitor on Linux, especially with multiple graphics cards and USB graphics adapters, remains problematic. You can find many distros and configurations where it just won’t work. We’d recommend staying away unless you’re an advanced Linux user who is willing to play with different distros, install optional components and do hand configuration. Unfortunately, it’s just not plug and play yet today, as it is on Windows.

The long story

That said, it is possible to get things working in limited scenarios for USB 2.0 generation DisplayLink-based adapters. We used all Plugable products in the tests for this post. Our test systems included Intel, Nvidia, and AMD primary graphics adapters. For Nvidia and AMD, we tested both the open-source and proprietary drivers.

Intel is the most compatible, providing decent results under all configurations.
Nvidia graphics cards, when running the open source nouveau driver, only work in Multi-Seat mode. Attempting multi-monitor setup with a DisplayLink adapter and an Nvidia graphics card results in garbage graphics being displayed on your DisplayLink-attached monitor. The Nvidia proprietary drivers do not work under any scenario.
The AMD open-source drivers work under both multi-seat and multi-monitor setups, but the performance, at least in our tests, is significantly worse than with the Intel drivers.
The AMD proprietary drivers are unavailable in any easy to install package under Fedora 20, but we installed them in Ubuntu, and were unable to get any results, they simply do not work with DisplayLink graphics.

Fedora 20

Fedora has always provided the best support for DisplayLink graphics on Linux. We noticed some regressions on Fedora 19, but these have largely been resolved in Fedora 20. There isn’t much new to report.

You should be able to connect one of our docking stations and create a plug-and-play multi-seat setup, or connect one of our display adapters, and expand your desktop to an extra monitor using the Arandr utility, or something similar.

Ubuntu 13.10

Ubuntu still has several issues with DisplayLink graphics, and they do not work out of the box.

In order to enable DisplayLink adapters to work on Ubuntu, one must download the latest Mainline Kernel build from the Ubuntu Kernel PPA, install it, and then reboot with that kernel. Once this is done, DisplayLink graphics adapters will work in multi-monitor mode. Simply enable them from System Settings like you would enable any extra monitor attached to your PC.

A step-by-step guide to accomplish this will not be provided because switching away from your distro-provided kernel is something only expert users should attempt.

It should be noted that the reason this is necessary is due to the Ubuntu team making some changes to the kernel that they ship with Ubuntu, resulting in broken DisplayLink graphics support. A bug report has been submitted, here.

You can also keep track of the USB Graphics situation under Ubuntu in this blueprint.

Performance

Performance continues to be an issue with DisplayLink on Linux. Using a composited window manger(Gnome 3, Unity, Cinnamon, etc) will result in poor performance across all of your displays. Compositing re-renders far more pixels than non-compositing desktops. When you’re just going through a GPU, you’ll only notice battery loss. But when all those pixels have to get processed by the CPU and sent over USB, it’s a huge hit.

Switching to a lighter-weight window manager or desktop environment (XFCE, LMDE, Mate, etc) results in a quite usable setup, provided your main display adapter is a recent Intel chip.

Unfortunately, due to the discontinuation of Gnome 3′s fallback mode, that is no longer an option for improved performance.

Other Outstanding Bugs

Besides the issues I mentioned above, there’s still a few other problems.

When rebooting your Linux computer, or simply logging out and back in, your USB-attached displays will not always come back without having to disconnect and reconnect them.

Changing the location of your DisplayLink screens in your virtual desktop can sometimes cause strange issues (like only half of the monitor rendering). Toggling the screen on and off inside of your Display management UI usually solves this.

Nvidia’s and AMD’s proprietary drivers are still entirely incompatible with DisplayLink graphics on Linux.

Conclusion

We hope this background helps. We don’t recommend or support USB graphics on Linux yet, because of the problems above — but if you do have questions, please feel free to comment below. We want to get as much information out as possible about what works and doesn’t, so things can improve here. There’s no reason Linux can’t have the same or better multi-monitor support as any other platform in time!

If you are an Open Source Kernel or User-Space developer that would like to help improve this situation, we’d like to point you to our Plugable Open Source Hardware Samples Program where you may sign up to receive free sample hardware to help on your development efforts.

DisplayLink Releases Version 2.1 Driver for Mac OS X

There have been many multi-monitor regressions from OS X 10.8.5 to 10.9, and USB graphics has been significantly impacted.

Part of the confusion is not knowing which new problems are fixable by DisplayLink and which ones will require waiting for the next point releases by Apple.

We have a clearer picture of that now with DisplayLink’s version 2.1 driver final release. A number of things are greatly improved, including a fix for the new performance problems on 10.9 — performance is now back up to 10.8.5 levels.

However, we’re still recommending that anyone on 10.8.5 with a multiple-monitor setup, stay there until Apple has a chance to get out some point releases. In particular, multi-monitor setups of many types are losing configuration, often on sleep. And virtual graphics drivers like DisplayLink aren’t working for 2 or more displays. Both of these problems are new for 10.9.

See the comments on our original 10.9 multi-mon post for different problems reported by customers with DisplayLink and non-DisplayLink hardware. DisplayLink lists the 10.9 issues they’re aware of in the DisplayLink KB article for OS X 10.9.

So, progress .. but for most 3+ monitor users, 10.9 is still not workable. So we can’t recommend any of our Plugable brand products with DisplayLink for Mac, unfortunately. We’ll update as Apple and DisplayLink put out additional point releases.

Feel free to post your experiences in the comments below — it helps everyone to have the behaviors be known. Thanks!