Display Layout Provisioning in Hot Desking/Hoteling Environment

Introduction


This article is an introduction to a new DisplayLink feature for Hot Desking and Hoteling Environments — Layout Provisioning.
By default, when a laptop is connected to an external display for the first time, Windows clones the built-in laptop display to the external monitors. This is often not the preferred display layout and the user has to change the configuration in Windows display settings manually. This may be particularly troublesome in a “hot desk” environment, where users are forced to correct the configuration each time they move to a new desk.

With the flexible workspace display layout provisioning feature presented in this article, DisplayLink devices may be configured to apply a predefined layout automatically, thus freeing users from repeatedly reconfiguring displays each time they connect to a new desk.

Requirements


To benefit from flexible workspace display layout provisioning, users’ computers must have the following installed:
  • Windows 7 / 8.1 with all Windows updates or Windows 10 v1607 or later.
  • DisplayLink hot desking package v9.2 or above. Drivers installed automatically from Windows Update or using .inf file do not support the feature.
  • In order to use the crowd provisioning feature, Windows 10 with v1607 or later and DisplayLink hot desking package v9.2 or above.
Please refer to this article for detailed installation steps.

The office must be equipped with DisplayLink docking stations or USB monitors from these series: DL-3xxx, DL-5xxx or DL-6xxx. Please contact your DisplayLink representative if you are unsure whether your devices are supported.

Features


Core flexible workspace display layout provisioning


Flexible workspace display layout provisioning enables IT staff to provision each workspace with a default display layout appropriate for the physical position and resolution of monitors. When a laptop is connected to a DisplayLink device
that has been provisioned as a flexible workspace, the layout chosen by the system administrator is applied automatically.

Users can override the default display layout as follows:
  • If a user wishes to change the provisioned layout, they can define the layout in the normal way using Windows display settings (right click on the desktop and select Display settings from the context menu). The user-defined layout takes priority over the provisioned layout and is applied when the user connects to the same desk in future. All other users remain unaffected and continue to use the default layout set up by IT staff when connecting to that particular docking station or USB monitor.
  • If a user connects to a workspace that has not yet been provisioned and changes the display layout in Windows display settings, the user-defined layout will continue to take priority after the workspace has been provisioned by IT staff. Other users connecting to the workspace after it has been provisioned are unaffected and continue to use the default layout set up by IT staff when connecting to that particular docking station or USB monitor.

Crowd Provisioning


For large deployments, crowd provisioning enables the benefits of flexible workspace display layout provisioning to be delivered to users without waiting for the desk to be provisioned by IT staff. Crowd provisioning stores a user’s display settings on the DisplayLink device as an interim measure, so that the layout is available as a default for subsequent users until the dock is provisioned by IT staff.

When crowd provisioning is enabled on a user’s machine and a user connects to a DisplayLink device that does not already have a provisioned layout, the feature checks whether the user has previously connected to that device. If the user has not previously connected, the current display layout is not stored. If the user has previously connected to the device, it is assumed that the user has configured their display settings for that workspace by now and the current layout is stored on the device for subsequent users. There is no indication to the user that the layout has been stored and their workflow is not interrupted. If the user makes further changes to their display settings after the layout has been stored as a crowd provisioned layout, the stored layout is not updated.

The crowd provisioning feature does not store the display layout if the user’s laptop is closed or if one of the displays malfunctions or is disconnected. Crowd provisioned layouts can always be overwritten by IT staff, as described below. 

Provisioning Display Layouts


You can provision workspaces with display layouts by connecting a computer on which you have administrator privileges to the DisplayLink device and using either Windows Registry or DisplayLink Dock Management Tool. Both options are designed for use by IT staff. The Dock Management Tool supports saving display layouts so you can reapply the same settings to other workspaces more quickly.

If multiple external monitors are connected, provisioning with the Dock Management Tool is recommended

 

Provisioning display layouts with Windows Registry

An external monitor can be configured as “extend to the left” or “extend to the right”. By default, immediately after installation the “extend to the left” option is used, so if this setting happens to match the desired layout no changes are necessary. However, if extension to the right is preferred, then the value of the following key should be set in the registry:

Windows 7 / 8.1:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Products\DisplayLink Graphics\OnNewDevice\ExtendPosition

Windows 10:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Products\DefaultProduct\OnNewDevice\ExtendPosition

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 instance, 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 at the very left. Consequently, this method is not suitable for configuration of a setup with multiple external displays.

Provisioning display layouts with Dock Management Tool

The Dock Management Tool is a console application used to save layout information to DisplayLink devices.
The computer used to provision the layout must be running Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 (with Anniversary Update) and have hot desking package v9.2 or above.

Provisioning a single workspace

To provision a display layout for a single workspace:
  1. Connect the laptop to the DisplayLink device.
  2. Wait for all attached monitors to activate and show the desktop.
  3. Open Windows display settings and set the desired layout.
  4. Open the Command Prompt with administrator privileges and navigate to the directory with Dock Management Tool.
  5. Execute the command:
  6. DockManagementTool.exe -layout store
Monitors connected to the DisplayLink device may flash at this point. The Dock Management Tool reports that the operation was successful, and the layout is stored on the dock and saved to the current directory.



Provisioning similar workspaces

IT staff can reapply a saved layout to additional workspaces from the Dock Management Tool. This is useful when provisioning workspaces that have the same layout of monitors and avoids having to change the display settings manually each time.

Note: DisplayLink hot desking package v9.2 or above must be installed on the laptop used to reapply the layout.

To reapply a saved layout:
  1. Configure the first workspace as described in 4.2.1above.
  2. Connect the same laptop to the DisplayLink device at another workspace.
  3. Wait for all attached monitors to activate and show the desktop.
  4. Open the Command Prompt with administrator privileges and navigate to the directory with Dock Management Tool.
  5. Execute the command:
  6. DockManagementTool.exe -layout reapply
  7. The layout from the default location is applied and stored on the dock.
If required, open Windows display settings to verify that the layout is as expected. If it is not, change the layout and then execute the following command:

DockManagementTool.exe -layout store

Provisioning different workspaces with layout templates

For offices with several different workspace arrangements in use, you can save multiple layout templates to the laptop used to provision display layouts. This is useful in environments where some hot desks have a different number or positioning of monitors or varying screen resolutions.

Note: DisplayLink hot desking package v9.3 or above must be installed on the laptop used to save and apply multiple layout templates.

To provision hot desks using layout templates:
  1. Configure the display layout for the first workspace as described in chapter 4.2.1, but add the -file parameter to save the layout template in a named file:
  2. DockManagementTool.exe -layout store -file <file_path>
  3. The layout is stored on the dock and saved in the specified location.
  4. Connect the same laptop to another workspace.
  5. Wait for all attached monitors to activate and show the desktop.
  6. Execute the command, specifying the appropriate saved layout template:
  7. DockManagementTool.exe -layout reapply -file <chosen_layout_file>
  8. The layout template from the given location is applied and stored on the dock.
If required, open Windows display settings to verify that the layout is as expected. If it is not, change the layout and then execute the following command:

DockManagementTool.exe -layout store -file <chosen_layout_file>

Note: Specifying the same file path will overwrite the saved template. To save a new template, specify a new file path.

Using Crowd Provisioning


Crowd Provisioning enables a user’s display settings to be stored on a DisplayLink device pending flexible workspace display layout provisioning by IT staff.

Note: Crowd Provisioning is only supported in Windows 10 v1607 and later and requires DisplayLink hot desking package v9.2 or above.

This feature is disabled by default. To enable this feature on a user’s machine set the value of the following key in the registry to “True”:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Core\EnableCrowdProvisioning

Two additional registry keys allow IT staff to report on how a device has been provisioned, so that they can identify workspaces that require provisioning or updating:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Core\DockLayoutType
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Core\DockSerialNumber

DockLayoutType specifies how the layout was stored on the DisplayLink device that is currently connected to the user’s machine:
  • MANUAL indicates that the layout was provisioned by an administrator using Windows Registry settings or the Dock Management Tool.
  • AUTOMATIC indicates that the layout was stored using crowd provisioning.
  • An empty string indicates that no layout has been stored on the device.
DockSerialNumber is the serial number of the currently connected DisplayLink device. An empty string indicates that no device is currently connected to the machine in question.
To identify which workspaces have been provisioned and how, use a PowerShell script to report on these registry keys for computers currently connected to the network.
If you are new to remote access and PowerShell scripts, note the following:
  • To establish a remote connection and run remote commands, the current user must be a member of the Administrators group on the remote computer.
  • In order for a registry key to be opened remotely, both the server and client machines must be running the remote registry service (which is disabled by default) and have remote administration enabled.
  • Remote administration is a Windows policy which administrators can apply on all computers in a network and is not configured by default. The policy is accessed from gpedit via the following path: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connections > Windows Defender Firewall > Domain Profile. “Allow inbound remote administration exception” should be enabled.
For more information see:
  • https://www.howtogeek.com/117192/how-to-run-powershell-commands-on-remote-computers/
  • https://4sysops.com/archives/enable-powershell-remoting/
  • https://4sysops.com/archives/enable-powershell-remoting-on-a-standalone-workgroup-computer

Supported and Recommended layouts


The following display layouts are recommended for use with flexible workspace display layout provisioning. The laptop’s built-in display is numbered one in the arrangements below. Neither duplicating displays nor configuring the display as “disconnected” are supported.




Vertical displays arrangements are also supported.




Additional information


Flexible workspace display layout provisioning becomes inactive in some scenarios:
  • 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 replacements for the old ones, even if they are of the same brand and model.
In the above cases either the original monitor setup must be restored, or the layout provisioning must be repeated byIT staff.
DisplayLink devices can be daisy-chained, i.e. a device may be plugged into a USB port of another device. All daisychained devices must be connected when the layout is being provisioned.
In certain configurations it is also possible to use DisplayLink devices which alone do not support flexible workspace display layout provisioning, e.g. DL-125. These devices become hot desk capable when paired with other supported devices, as shown below.

FAQs


  • 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 products using DisplayLink DL-3xxx, DL-4xxx, DL-5xxx, and DL-6xxx series ASICs can be used to store the display layout today. You will need DisplayLink driver hot desk package v9.2 and newer for the layout to be applied.

Important information for IT managers


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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


To test the Layout Provisioning Feature you will first need to clear any previously saved layouts from the laptop. To do it, please follow the steps below:

For Windows 7- 8.1 laptops:
  1. Clear Monitor Persistence:
Copy the text below into a text file and call it Monitor Persistence.reg, save it, then run it to remove these entries:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Configuration]
[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Connectivity]

For Windows 10 laptops:
  1. Clear Monitor Persistence (as described above)
  2. Delete ConnectivityData.txt which is located in C:\Windows\Temp\DisplayLink.

Feedback

Please provide us with your feedback regarding this feature by contacting us at technical_enquiries@displaylink.com
Thank you.

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