Docking stations & external monitor(s)...

Taleweaver

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Okay...this has been ongoing for a long time but since it's (apparently?) somewhat niche I can't google fu my way out of it. It's a shot in the dark, but better than nothing. Here goes...

I can't get external monitors on the steam deck to work when using a docking station...except when I use the steam deck dock. In the right circumstances.

So...here's my setup: 2 external monitors (HDMI and VGA, though I've got a display port -> VGA one). Seemed perfect for the steam deck dock. Though I was aware of third party docks being cheaper, the fact it has a secondary docking port made a difference.

Either way...I got it, updated it (the dock has some sort of own firmware thingy)...and tried it. While it TECHNICALLY works, it's flakey at best. That is: it only works if I first exit to desktop mode, have all devices plugged in and then the dock into the device...and then wait 2-5 minutes because things seem to freeze for so long. The display port monitor also has a faulty resolution, though right now that's the least of the issues. In any case: it's in that state of neither disfunctional nor really functional. Oh, and while not advertized: the steam deck dock doesn't have an audio jack. I could get it to play through the HDMI speakers, but these are anything but fit for the purpose.

Now here's the thing: due to my job, I've got the capability to try out some other USB-C docking stations. Three different kinds, to be precise (one expensive Lenovo one, an old HP one and one lenovo one that's more a port replicator thing but in practice works the same). The three of them give the same results, which leads me to suspect it's not the devices but the steam deck.

That is: aside the monitor output, everything works perfectly from the start. Within two seconds, my mouse, keyboard and external USB-drive are found (well...the USB hub containing these things). Power input (aka: charging the deck) and wired connection hardly a second later. I haven't tested the oudio on all three, but these as well function very well.

The external monitor output's the only problem. HDMI or display port doesn't matter: it just doesn't register on the deck(1). Display setting just keeps insisting the small device's monitor's the only one present. Restarting doesn't work (in fact, it blackscreens when you do that, as if it's stuck in an endless loop somehow).

I've tried at least four different brands of monitors at this time, and about as much cables. But as the connection works on the official one, and all four docks work fine with a windows laptop, I think anything but the deck can be ruled out as source of the error).


As said, googling hasn't brought much relief at this point.
* unplugging and replugging the monitor and/or the dock's power hasn't done much(2)
* both in game mode and outside I've updated pretty much anything I can think of
* I've tried both the beta and preview versions instead of the 'stable' one. I'm still on 3.4.6...I heard 3.5 is "a massive overhaul", but I don't know how to update to that one to test


So...I'm at a loss here. Again: it's a long shot. But does anyone know more? Like...how to update the video drivers? (now on 4.6 compatibility profile mesa 22.2.0) Or to force it to update to 3.5?

Thanks for reading...



(1): IIRC the port replicator had a VGA output. But there as well: no dice. I
(2): IIRC it helped an earlier issue with the official steam deck dock, but not the third party ones. And due to the better ergonomics and the audio output, I'd prefer to use that if possible
 
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Taleweaver

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Small update. Unfortunately, i'm not a step closer. I tried yet another brand of monitor (a huge-ass 24" one): exactly the same result. The freeze I experience when using the steam deck dock seems to have lessened to less than 10 seconds, though I presume that's mostly due to the other change:

I found out how to opt into the beta and the preview build. Thus far I think these are stable...but they don't solve the monitor issue.


Also dabbled in decky loader. Fun piece of software. Alas: no plugin to change the drivers. :unsure:

EDIT: also...I changed the monitor that's connected to the steam deck dock through display port. That one's resolution is still below 1920x1080 (I forgot what it forced).
 
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RedTony

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Try resetting graphics driver: With the deck switched off hold Vol - & the quick access button ( … ), then press power.
When the steam beeps, lift the finger from the power button (only). It will take some time to reboot, but then the graphic driver would be reset.

You may try as well to go into developer mode and tick "External Display Safe Mode" option:
click the 'Steam' button > System > turn on 'Enable Developer Mode'.
Once this is enabled:
Click the 'Steam' button > scroll to the bottom and select 'Developer' > scroll down to turn on 'External display safe mode'
 
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Taleweaver

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Try resetting graphics driver: With the deck switched off hold Vol - & the quick access button ( … ), then press power.
When the steam beeps, lift the finger from the power button (only). It will take some time to reboot, but then the graphic driver would be reset.

You may try as well to go into developer mode and tick "External Display Safe Mode" option:
click the 'Steam' button > System > turn on 'Enable Developer Mode'.
Once this is enabled:
Click the 'Steam' button > scroll to the bottom and select 'Developer' > scroll down to turn on 'External display safe mode'
Heh. Thanks for the tips. I unfortunately can't claim success yet, but at least I've tried. :)

Had no idea how to reset the graphics drivers, but i accidentally also learned how to not into the bios. Anyway... First test didn't appear to be successful. Haven't tried all the dockings/screens/configs yet, but it's not the first test. :(

I had already found and used the safe mode for external play. At first it wouldn't keep the setting on, but that got fixed once I enabled developer mode. Only difference is that when i use the official dock the initial output of the monitor is blurry.
Sorry, but i had forgotten to write that in my earlier posts.


So... Nothing? We'll see. Since i know the bios entry now, I'll try what i often do on laptops: try to boot them from an external usb drive with a Linux OS on it. I'm very curious whether that 'fixes' the external monitors or not.

Finally: no, i haven't jumped the gun on resorting or factory reseting the thing. It's a frustrating issue, but also a first world problem. And i don't want to lose progress in games or have to redo all sort of tweaks.
 
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Bit of an update: I think I've found what's wrong with it. And it's not what I thought it was.

It's not the steam deck...It's linux. Those two docking stations and port replicator I've tried don't have the proper linux drivers. And it seems that for USB, audio, power and ethernet it just...sort of uses the defaults or something (I think). The same can't be said for the HDMI throughput, which is why the video throughput just...sits there doing nothing. It also explains why the dock or those other steam deck compatible docks apparently work out of the box: they're tested and have drivers for that thing.

It's rather self-explanatory on hindsight. But that's often the case when using hindsight.

Personal TO DO: I've found a link here that seems to talk about the same issue (at least the issue's the same, even though the device and potentially the type of docking station isn't):

https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Ubuntu/ThinkPad-Hybrid-USB-C-with-USB-A-Dock-for-linux/td-p/4315328

A bit of a gamble, but it can't hurt to try...
 
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Taleweaver

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Small update...
First off: I've got the mentioned USB-C dock mentioned in my earlier post (yeey?). I also updated it to the latest firmware, though that might not be needed. Furthermore, I'm

Going by this snipplet in the thread of my previous post:

I only had to install the Displaylink drivers from https://www.synaptics.com/products/displaylink-graphics/downloads/ubuntu to make this work.
Which is, of course, would be very nice if valve built steamOS on top of ubuntu instead of arch. So...how to proceed? Well...I just tried downloading, extracting and then executing (most of which can be done in the desktop environment. You'll need the following console command for the execution: "sudo sh <displaylink-driver-5.7.0-61.129.run").

...which then turns into a "missing component: DKMS" message. I presume that stands for "Donkey Kong's Mine Sweeper", so it's clearly a critical part. ;)

Anyway...googling THAT led me to some other rabbit hole:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/DisplayLink


Well...the DisplayLink aspect is clearly a well documented page...for hobbyists. And it warns that things are flaky at best. Hmm...:(

EDIT: googling steam deck displaylink got me to this link: https://steamdecklinux.wiki/wiki/Guide:Setting_up_DisplayLink

Tried following it, but damn...archlinux is pretty user-unfriendly. I might've broken my steam deck. :angry:
EDIT 2: let's see...what I did started easy enough: get pacman working from this link (https://steamdecklinux.wiki/wiki/Guide:Installing_Programs)
Later on this same guide is supposed to install something called "yay", but that failed for some reason.

Getting Evdi (whatever it is) installed seemed to work fine. Only hurdle before getting the konsole command working was downloading the release package first (https://github.com/steamdeck-linux/evdi-steamdeck/releases/tag/v1.12.0). On hindsight: duh! :rolleyes:

Configuring Evdi to fix refresh rate issues is the first hurdle. Seems like a simple command to create a new configuration file. It just seems not to have access. I skipped this step.

Then there's the step I couldn't get working: using yay to "simply install the displaylink package".

Setting up yay got me in that earlier linked guide. A couple dos programs, cloning the repository and then the "makepkg -si" command. Which failed.
Quick google stated to check the prerequisites (link), but I got too confused. Besides...with the way the (first) guide is set up, it seems like there's 3 ways to do things. So I decided to restart and see.

...except I now no longer see anything. Hmm...
FINAL EDIT: okay...it's still fine. Just took longer than expected to boot up (never been so glad to finally see that logo again :P ).

Ahem...as you can guess, I'm going to leave it alone for now. Might see later what further tinkering might do.
 
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Taleweaver

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Final update: I've sorted it out. Not in the way I really wanted, but I'll settle for 'working' for now.

In the end, I just started using the steam deck dock again. My main gripe there used to be that one of the monitors had a lower maximum resolution for some reason. That seems to have been fixed now.
The minor gripe was a lack of audio input on the dock (meaning: plugging the deck means plugging both usb-c and audio cable). I just got a ten buck audio to usb converter. I already had a usb-> multi usb converter, and this setup works better than I anticipated.

Take note: this setup isn't just for the deck but also for my work laptop. As such, 'just' having a single plug to connect the devices makes things pretty convenient to swap (work laptop works fine, BTW... It's just that the connector's a bit short)
 
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Taleweaver

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... Unfortunately, i have to revert from my earlier optimism. Not sure if it was a fluke of luck to get it working or a future update screwing things... Or the dock just not working with 2 devices? Anyway... Last Monday i wanted to plug it into my work laptop and it wouldn't budge. Not just the monitors but none of the peripherals. Because i really needed to get to work, I went back to one of the other docks.

I'm inclined to write off this endeavor as a loss. Not sure why the influencers don't have this issue (with the official dock), but I think a lot goes for using 2 screens at once.

Now... As for some good news: I've installed a(recuperated) large TV screen in my attic. Hdmi-connector to usb-c world fine, and pairing a ps4 controller as well. Meaning: just the hdmi connector and the controller turns the deck into a console (aka: a switch but better). Only minor thing is that it doesn't charge.
So... The dock can't quite turn the deck into a reliable pc (yet?), but thus far I'm impressed with its capabilities as a console.

Wish me luck, because I'm going to try putting the dock in between. Sort of what this guy did (https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/18...ock-docking-station-tv-gaming-nintendo-switch)...
 

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Did you potentially kill the Deck's Dock by pulling more than 45w through the power cable? It's weird that it would stop working randomly for any other reason, and most laptops these days want more than 45w. You could also try removing it from power entirely for a minute or two and see if that magically fixes it, I've had to do that with other externally powered USB hubs occasionally.

Personally I haven't tried running two external displays off of the Deck at the same time, but my HDMI monitors and TV are both recognized instantly using either the Dock (both while plugged into power and without), an Anker USB Hub with HDMI out, or the little Motorola Ready USB-C to HDMI dongle that came with my phone.

The only problems I've encountered were weird settings for external displays, and I manually had to set the resolution, orientation, and refresh values correctly for my monitor, my TV got recognized with the correct settings.
 
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Taleweaver

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Did you potentially kill the Deck's Dock by pulling more than 45w through the power cable? It's weird that it would stop working randomly for any other reason, and most laptops these days want more than 45w. You could also try removing it from power entirely for a minute or two and see if that magically fixes it, I've had to do that with other externally powered USB hubs occasionally.
I've got to admit I initially dismissed this, but it might be what happened.

I certainly initially started with just using the power cable I got with the (original) dock. I also THINK I used that same power cable for all the other dock testings, but I'm really not sure. The lenovo docking certainly draws more power (read: the size of the power adaptor is larger), but at this point I can't recall if I used that one on my deck dock. It certainly wasn't the HP one, as that one used a proprietary power outlet.

The "removing from power entirely" might have worked. As I said at the end of my last post, I unplugged the device entirely and installed it underneath my television. Just the HDMI and the power. And a bluetooth connection to my PS4 and PS5 controllers.

Lemme tell you: this one works PERFECTLY! Sure, it's plugging in and reconnecting the controller each time, but with the auto-resume feature I can be "in" a game in a matter of seconds.

I wasn't initially planning of turning my steam deck in an actual console, but now that I've tried it I gotta admit it's a lot better than I anticipated.

Personally I haven't tried running two external displays off of the Deck at the same time, but my HDMI monitors and TV are both recognized instantly using either the Dock (both while plugged into power and without), an Anker USB Hub with HDMI out, or the little Motorola Ready USB-C to HDMI dongle that came with my phone.
To be fair, I think this is the main culprit: not so much the HDMI or the displayport, but the attempt at doing both at the same time.

I can't say I'm very disappointed. It would be funny to use the steam deck as my work "laptop" (meaning: just running citrix), but I can't say I bought the steam deck for that purpose. :P

The only problems I've encountered were weird settings for external displays, and I manually had to set the resolution, orientation, and refresh values correctly for my monitor, my TV got recognized with the correct settings.
Yeah, ok...I've had my share of those on my displayport'ed monitor as well.
 

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