This article is an introduction to a new DisplayLink feature for Hot-Desking and Hoteling Environments — Layout Provisioning.
The default Windows behaviour on connecting external monitors is, in most cases, to set those monitors to clone the laptop screen. For most users this is not the preferred configuration and they have to manually adjust the display in Windows Desktop Properties.
DisplayLink resolves the problem of unpredictable layouts being applied on first connection with its new Layout Provisioning feature. It provides a tool which allows IT departments to design and save the display layout per workstation. Each user connecting to a configured workstation for the first time will have the saved layout applied.
Enhancement for DisplayLink enabled Hot-Desking Environment
DisplayLink is addressing this use case by enabling the DisplayLink dock to be provisioned with the correct display layout for each hot desk. As hot desks are deployed and tested by IT, the correct layout configuration can be saved to the DisplayLink dock.
Now, when a user connects to a hot desk for the first time, their display layout is configured automatically with information from the dock. This saves time, gives the user a better experience, and reduces support calls and tickets.
What's required to deploy the feature?
- Workstation with a DisplayLink enabled device (using DL-3xxx, DL-4xxx, DL-5xxx or DL-6xxx)
- Machine running Windows 7 with Dock Management Tool for programming the layout - Windows 10 version to be released soon
- Machine with DisplayLink driver version 9.1 or above installed.
- Machine running Windows 7 – 8.1: Any DisplayLink driver package ver 9.1 or above installed including Windows Update installation
- Machine running Windows 10 Creators Update: HotDesking package (msi, which can be found in corporate download) ver 9.1 or above is required. Drivers installed from Windows Update or .inf do not support the feature.
Hot desking display layouts can be configured in two ways: by modifying values in Windows Registry or using the Dock Management Tool. Generally speaking, when multiple external monitors are connected, the Dock Management Tool should be used.
Configuration in Windows Registry
With Windows Registry the external monitor can be configured as “extend to the left” or “extend to the right”. If no changes have ever been made to the display settings, Windows applies the “extend to the left” option, so if this setting matches the desired layout, no changes are necessary. However, if extension to the right is preferred, the value of the following key should be set in the registry:
Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1:
There are only two possible values: “Left” and “Right”. The value specified in the key affects all external monitors connected to the computer, but the order in which they compose the desktop cannot be configured. For example, when two external monitors are present and the desktop is extended to the left, it is impossible to tell beforehand which of the monitors will be furthest to the left. Consequently, Windows Registry is not suitable for configuring a setup with multiple external displays.
Programming the layout using Dock Management Tool
- Connect the Windows 7 machine with Dock Management Tool to the workstation
- Wait for all attached screens to show pixels
- Open Windows Display Settings (right-click on the desktop) and set desired layout (See "Supported and recommended layouts" below for details)
- Open command line prompt with Admin privileges and navigate to directory with Dock Management Tool
- Execute the following command:
DockManagementTool.exe -layout store
- Monitors connected to DisplayLink device may flash and the Dock Management Tool will report operation successful
Once the dock has been programmed, connect a user machine to it: the saved layout is applied.
- List Dock Management Tool commands
Displays all available command-line options and exits.
- Clear currently stored layout from the connected dock device
DockManagementTool.exe -layout clear
DockManagementTool will clear the system display layout that is stored in the DisplayLink dock device connected to the Host PC,
Dock Management Tool returns “Operation successful.” Information on successful completion or proper error message otherwise.
- Is the layout from the dock applied at each connection?
No, the layout is only applied on first connection. If the user changes the layout, the new layout will be restored the next time he/she connects to that dock. If the user had connected to the dock before the new layout was saved to the dock, the previously used layout is loaded.
- Can the user save their own layout in the docks?
No, saving requires the Dock Management Tool, which requires admin privilege to execute. This is to limit the risk of end user interference. We are looking at offering user preference in the future.
- Can I add more devices and save the layout?
Yes, the DisplayLink mix and match advantage stays true. You can mix and match various DisplayLink enabled devices, as long as you include at least one of the above stated DL-chipset versions.
- How many DisplayLink displays do you support?
Up to 6 displays are officially supported. The feature will work with more DisplayLink docks/adapters, but there are too many combinations to guarantee more than 6.
- Do I need new hardware?
No. All existing DL-3xxx, DL-4xxx, DL-5xxx, and DL-6xxx can be used to store the display layout today. You will need DisplayLink driver hot-desk package v9.1 and newer for the layout to be applied.
Supported and recommended layouts
- Clone mode is not supported in this feature.
- Although there are no other hard requirements for selecting a layout, it is recommended to consider the different native resolutions of the machine.
- The following layouts are recommended. Please note that the laptop’s screen is numbered 1 in the below arrangements.
Vertical display arrangements are also supported.
- When one of the monitors malfunctions, has no power source or is disconnected from the dock.
- When new monitors are plugged into a dock in addition to or as replacement for the old ones, even if they are of the same brand and model.
In certain configurations it is also possible to use DisplayLink devices which alone do not support hot desking, e.g. DL-125. Those devices become hot desk capable when paired with other supported devices, as shown below. In such cases, the layout must be saved after all devices have been connected.
Important information for IT managers
- Before applying the layout, there is a check for matching monitor set. The layout is applied when all monitors saved in the dock configurations are recognised by the operating system. This means that if one of the monitors fails to light up, the layout from the dock is not applied.
- In case of a monitor failure the dock must be re-programmed, even if the monitor is replaced with the same make and model. This is because the monitor serial numbers are different.
- Layout Provisioning supports connecting multiple DisplayLink devices in a daisy chain. When programming the layout, it is saved onto all DisplayLink devices. Before loading the layout, the DisplayLink driver checks that all devices have the same layout saved. In the event of discrepancies the layout is not applied.
Testing the saved layout
- Clear Monitor Persistence:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
- Clear Monitor Persistence (as described above)