Looking to get a docking station that works in Windows and Linux

mgmguy1mgmguy1 Posts: 461Registered Members
I want get a docking station that that will work with my Dell Windows Laptop and my Raspberry Pi 3.
Any suggestions.


Thanks in advance
Mgmguy1
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Comments

  • tedjamestedjames Posts: 859Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    My wife has one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-Universal-Docking-Station-Ethernet/dp/B00ECDM78E/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1534717519&sr=8-10&keywords=docking+station

    I don't know about the Pi, but it sure is great with her Windows 10 laptop. I have a KVM switch for my four computers, and that suits my purposes just fine.
  • yoba222yoba222 Posts: 860Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    If I understand correctly, it's a docking station, where all you have to do (after setup) is plug in a USB 3.0 from the dock to the computer, and everything (keyboard, touchpad,display, etc.) passes through USB. Wow, I didn't even know that was possible. I suppose USB 3.0 has enough bandwidth. Pretty neat.
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  • tedjamestedjames Posts: 859Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    Some of these docking stations allow up to five monitors.
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Registered Members
    tedjames wrote: »
    My wife has one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-Universal-Docking-Station-Ethernet/dp/B00ECDM78E/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1534717519&sr=8-10&keywords=docking+station

    I don't know about the Pi, but it sure is great with her Windows 10 laptop. I have a KVM switch for my four computers, and that suits my purposes just fine.

    Beware of the DisplayLink based docks.

    DisplayLink, which is different than DisplayPort, is a USB based GPU which has caused problems for people. Depending on how you plan to use the dock you could find DisplayLink quite useless. That said, there are also many people quite pleased with DisplayLink.

    One problem with DisplayLink is that of bandwidth. Most DisplayLink based docks use a USB 3 connection, and most USB 3 ports are limited to 5Gbps. For comparison a 1080p image, at 60 frames per second, is 3.2 Gbps. 4K (3840 × 2160) at 30 fps is over 6Gbps. HDMI 2.1 supports data rates over 30Gbps. DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 supports data rates over 25Gbps.

    DisplayLink seems to support some kind of compression so perhaps they can lower the bandwidth required to reach any given frame rate and resolution. Even so the dock will do more than drive a display on that USB link, there's going to be some of that USB bandwidth needed for the keyboard and mouse, an Ethernet port, and sound.

    Docks that use USB-C, which is a connector separate from the USB 3 protocol, often use the DisplayPort protocol for sending video (even though the ports on the dock may be HDMI or VGA). USB-C has four high speed lanes on the connector and most often the 4 lanes are split into 2 lanes for 10 Gbps USB3 and 2 lanes for 20Gbps DisplayPort video. (The difference in the data rates is because USB doesn't use the entire bandwidth available on those lanes.)

    There are docks with USB-C that use DisplayLink for video, some that use DisplayPort, and a rare few that use HDMI. (With HDMI on USB-C all 4 lanes are for video, USB is then limited to USB 2.0 speed.) To tell the difference requires careful examination of the specifications.

    Docks from Dell can use either DisplayLink or DisplayPort for video, but they seem to be pretty good about telling people which is which. I mention Dell specifically because the intended use is on a Dell laptop. I don't know much about the Raspberry Pi but a quick look tells me that they do not support DisplayPort and support for DisplayLink is dependent on the software installed.

    I limited my warning to the use of USB docks. If you are considering other kinds of docks then that changes things.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Registered Members
    I've been using a Dell DisplayLink D3100 for the past year for both Win10 and Ubuntu with no issues.
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Registered Members
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    I've been using a Dell DisplayLink D3100 for the past year for both Win10 and Ubuntu with no issues.

    Which version of Ubuntu?

    A quick search of the internet tells me that Ubuntu 16 works fine but Ubuntu 18 has problems. I assume the issues will be resolved in time. My buyer beware post above still applies but perhaps the "beware" should be on non-DisplayLink docks. Docks that rely on the computer supplying a DisplayPort signal down the wire for video simply cannot provide video without it. If there's no desire for video from the dock then my warning doesn't apply. If all you want is a place for docking laptops to get just a keyboard, mouse, wired network, and power, then I'm thinking most any dock will do. That kind of dock is just a USB hub with an Ethernet dongle bolted on. If you are looking for video from the dock then things get complicated.
    yoba222 wrote: »
    If I understand correctly, it's a docking station, where all you have to do (after setup) is plug in a USB 3.0 from the dock to the computer, and everything (keyboard, touchpad,display, etc.) passes through USB. Wow, I didn't even know that was possible. I suppose USB 3.0 has enough bandwidth. Pretty neat.

    USB 3.0 does have a lot of bandwidth and there are docks that will advertise support for dual [email protected] displays, and gigabit networking, on a single 5Gbps port. How they do this is a mystery to me because the bandwidth required for that would be over 25Gbps uncompressed. Oh, and they do all this for less than $150.

    I'll see other docks, also for about $150, that advertise support for dual [email protected] displays and gigabit networking but state clearly that the computer must supply DisplayPort on a USB-C port. That kind of a connection will have the required 30Gbps or so of bandwidth for uncompressed video and networking down the wire. These I'm much less concerned about supplying what they advertise.

    The original question was for suggestions on a dock. I'm not giving specific product suggestions, only that there is a very important distinction between docks with DisplayLink chips in them and those that require DisplayPort video from the host computer. A dock with DisplayLink will likely work just fine on a computer with DisplayPort, but the video will be limited to the capability of the DisplayLink chip inside as that's what will be driving the display. I assume that someone could get a dock that has video ports, but without a DisplayLink chip in it, and still be able to use the other features. Doing that might make sense if, as with the original question, the dock is shared between two computers.

    I'm jumping in here because I've seen people get burned on this. DisplayLink is a separate GPU and so it acts like a separate video card would in any computer, with all the quirks that goes with that. Looking at the price and features alone won't reveal which is which, you'll have to look for a DisplayLink logo, a disclaimer that DisplayPort support is required, or some other indication on which is which. It seems to me that DisplayLink support on Windows is very good, but support on Linux and Mac is often hit and miss.

    Mgmguy1, what price range are you looking for? What capabilities do you require? I could go on a bit more on video capable docks but if that's not a requirement then it's a moot point.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Registered Members
    MacGuffin wrote: »
    Which version of Ubuntu?


    Using 18.04.01 Ubuntu Desktop now. Was on the previous version for a while as well. Works great. Have my HDMI display on it along with about 4 other USB devices (headset, mouse, keyboard, USB Drive).
  • MacGuffinMacGuffin Posts: 228Registered Members
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Using 18.04.01 Ubuntu Desktop now. Was on the previous version for a while as well. Works great. Have my HDMI display on it along with about 4 other USB devices (headset, mouse, keyboard, USB Drive).

    Thanks for the reply, and noted for future reference. I'm taking interest in this discussion as I can see myself doing something similar to Mgmguy1 at some point.

    I get "triggered" with USB based GPUs given past experience and what I've read from others on this. I use Mac, Windows, and Linux daily but prefer my Apple computers over the others. If there's a dock with DisplayLink that works well with Mac and Linux then I might consider getting one. I've been getting by without a dock so far but I'm thinking I might want one at some point. If DisplayLink video has improved since I last looked at them then I might buy a dock with DisplayLink video for the extra screen real estate.
    MacGuffin - A plot device, an item or person that exists only to produce conflict among the characters within the story.
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