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.
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


Today, when a user connects to a DisplayLink dock in a hot desking environment, the screens are given a default Windows desktop layout, which is usually to mirror the laptop screen. This is not the preferred configuration and the first thing a user needs to do is rearrange the display layout. They need to know how to do this and have to do it for every new desk they connect to. This causes frustration and support calls to IT for help.
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 with Dock Management Tool for programming the layout (available with the hot desking msi driver v9.2 onward).
  • Machine with DisplayLink driver v9.2 or above installed.

Please note

Any user who would like to benefit from the hot desking feature needs to meet the following hardware and software requirements:
  • Machine running Windows 7 – 8.1: Any DisplayLink driver package v9.2 or above installed including Windows Update installation
  • Machine running Windows 10 Anniversary Update or newer: hot desking package (msi, which can be found in corporate download) v9.2 or above is required. Drivers installed from Windows Update or .inf do not support the feature.
Whenever a computer is connected to a DisplayLink device configured for hot desking, the layout chosen by the system administrator is applied automatically. However, if a particular user wishes to change the suggested layout, they can still define their own in the normal way using Windows display settings. The user-defined layout takes priority and is loaded each time the user works at the same desk. All other users remain unaffected by this change and use the layout configured by the system administrator.
If a user connects their computer to a DisplayLink device and changes the layout in Windows display settings before the hot desking display layout is configured by the system administrator, the user-defined layout again takes priority and the layout defined by the administrator is not applied for that user. Other users are not affected.

Layout Configuration


Hot desking display layouts can be configured in two ways: by modifying values in Windows Registry or using the Dock Management Tool. Using the Dock Management Tool is recommended when configuring docking stations with multiple monitors.

 

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:
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 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.


Crowd Provisioning Feature

Crowd provisioning functionality will be disabled by default. In order to enable this functionality it will require IT manager to set the value of the following key in the registry:

Windows 10:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Core\EnableCrowdProvisioning

The value “True” should be entered and the functionality will be automatically started.
Note that this feature is only supported in Windows 10 Anniversary Update or newer.

For more information on this feature, please see the Crowd Provisioning section below.

Programming the layout using Dock Management Tool


The Dock Management Tool is a console application used to save layout information to DisplayLink devices. A computer used to program the layout must have a regular DisplayLink driver v9.2 or above installed.

Configuration of a single hot desk

To configure a display layout with the Dock Management Tool:
  1. Connect the machine with Dock Management Tool to the workstation
  2. Wait for all attached screens to show pixels
  3. Open Windows Display Settings (right-click on the desktop) and set desired layout (See "Supported and recommended layouts" below for details)
  4. Open command line prompt with Admin privileges and navigate to directory with Dock Management Tool
  5. Execute the following command: DockManagementTool.exe -layout store
  6. Monitors connected to DisplayLink device may flash and the Dock Management Tool will report operation successful


The Dock Management Tool is only used to write the layout, and must be used once per hot desk.

Once the dock has been programmed, connect a user machine to it: the saved layout is applied.


Configuration of similar hot desks

It is possible to configure hot desks with the same monitors layout without having to manually rearrange displays in settings window.

Please note
The machine used to reapply the layout must have a DisplayLink driver v9.2 or above installed

To use this feature, please follow the below procedure:
  1. Configure first hot desk as described in the Configuration of a single hot desk
  2. Connect the machine used for the first setup to another hot desk with a DisplayLink enabled device.
  3. Wait for all attached screens to show pixels
  4. Open command line prompt with Admin privileges and navigate to directory with Dock Management Tool
  5. Execute the following command: DockManagementTool.exe -layout reapply
  6. Layout will be applied and stored in the new dock.
  7. Verify in Display Settings if layout is correct. If not, change the layout and execute the command:  DockManagementTool.exe -layout store
  8. Monitors connected to DisplayLink device may flash and the Dock Management Tool will report operation successful

Other commands

  • List Dock Management Tool commands

    Syntax: DockManagementTool.exe -h
    Displays all available command-line options and exits.
  • Clear currently stored layout from the connected dock device

    Syntax: 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.

Crowd Provisioning



Currently, to use Layout Provisioning feature in its full potential, IT manager must store layout onto each dock separately. This can be very time consuming for larger size enterprises. DisplayLink has answered this issue in v9.2 release through Crowd Provisioning.
This feature allows to populate all un-provisioned docks with personal layout from connected laptops. This solution assumes that a user has already rearranged the screens according to personal preference. Storing these personal layouts allows all docks to be provisioned as soon as the functionality is deployed.

Layout Configuration using Crowd Provisioning

This functionality is enabled in drivers v9.2 and above. After a user updates their driver to this version, their personal layout will be stored onto a connected un-provisioned dock. If the dock was provisioned in the past, nothing will change to the saved layout.
These conditions must be met, for this feature to work:
  • On initial connect we check whether there is a layout stored to dock.
  • If layout is already stored, we do not deploy crowd provisioning functionality.
  • If layout is not stored, we check whether is it first connect for that user. If it is in fact first connect, we do not deploy crowd provisioning functionality.
  • If layout is not stored and it is not first connect, meaning user has used the same setup in the past, so that he/she has rearranged the connected displays accordingly, crowd provisioning functionality will be deployed and user’s personal layout will be saved to dock. User experience will not be compromised in any way, as the user will not be aware of the underlying action, while the displays will be arranged for him/her in a desired way as per previously made display settings. Other users that connect to the same docking station for the first time will get benefit of having layout rearranged in a same way as for this user.
This action will only happen once. Even if user makes some changes afterwards to personal display settings, layout stored on a dock will not be affected.
In case one of any change to the connected displays, e.g. malfunction, loss of power source or disconnection from the dock, the desk will be treated as first connect, assuming user does not have personal layout for this scenario, and no layout will be stored.
In case user connects to a docking station with closed lid, we will not store layout to dock, even if the conditions above are met.

Please note
IT Manager, having administrative privileges, will always be able to overwrite this layout.
Crowd Provisioning should be considered as interim solution, as for the full Layout Provisioning functionality it is expected IT manager will eventually store layouts to all docking station in the company.

IT Manager Reporting


To check which docks had the layout stored automatically as the result of Crowd Provisioning and which still have no layout stored on them, we enabled the below reporting.
In order for the reporting to work, the EnableCrowdProvisioning key (see Configuration in Windows Registry section above) has to be enabled. Once layout is stored to dock two new string values will get automatically created:

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

DockLayoutType stores information on how the layout of currently connected dock has been stored to dock, and can be MANUAL, AUTOMATIC or empty string if there is no layout saved to the dock in question.
The value MANUAL for DockLayoutType and accompanying DockSerialNumber, as provided by OS, will be stored when IT Manager stores layouts manually.
For layouts that are stored automatically as result of Crowd Provisioning, value AUTOMATIC will be stored for DockLayoutType, along with accompanying DockSerialNumber.
DockSerialNumber is the serial number of the currently connected dock, and is empty string if no dock is connected to the machine in question.
These values can be fetched and compared on all computers on network by IT Administrator at any time with the simple PowerShell script.

Useful information for IT managers:

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 (Remote Registry service is by default-u Disabled), and have remote administration enabled.
Remote administration enabled is Windows Policy which Administrator can apply on all computers in network. The policy in question is called Windows Defender Firewall: Allow inbound remote administration exception, and it's not configured by default.
The policy is under gpedit in the following path: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connections > Windows Defender Firewall > Domain Profile and it should be enabled.

Useful links:

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

FAQs

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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.




Supported devices


The feature supports saving layout onto the following devices:

  • DL-3xxx
  • DL-4xxx
  • DL-5xxx
  • DL-6xxx
Hot desking display layout provisioning becomes inactive in the following situations:
  • 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 these cases, either the original monitor(s) must be re-connected or the layout configuration must be repeated by the system administrator.

DisplayLink devices can be daisy-chained, i.e. a device may be plugged into a USB port of another device. All daisy-chained devices must be connected when the layout is being programmed.
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


  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.

Feedback and Knowledge Base