I’m thinking which extensions to get for my Laptop 13 AMD on which I will install Linux (either Fedora or openSUSE). I intend to use one external monitor, and I currently have a small USB-C docking station (Microsoft USB-C travel hub) with HDMI and VGA outputs.
So I’m wondering if HDMI-over-USB-C works reliably on Linux. Can I rely on that docking station or will it give me trouble?
I also thought about getting an extension card in which case I’m wondering whether to get HDMI or DisplayPort. Which one works better with Linux? Including standby (sleep) and all that?
Or do all options “just work” nowadays without fuss?
HDMI over USB-C is discontinued according to HDMI LA (the group that maintains and updates the HDMI standard) and even when it did exist it wasn’t very common.
Most USB-C to HDMI adapters (including the Framework HDMI Expansion Card) actually use DisplayPort over USB-C and then the adapter internally translates that DisplayPort signal into an HDMI signal.
Assuming that that dock operates on the way described above it should work without issues, however I don’t know how to confirm that it operates that way.
Afaik both the DisplayPort and HDMI expansion cards should just work. Although if there is a difference I’d expect that DisplayPort would probably be better since both options use DisplayPort over USB-C but the HDMI option adds the additional complexity of translating DisplayPort into HDMI.
I’m on Manjaro and have a hell of trouble with the front left port leaving the display black when coming up from hibernation. Even when nothing but a single HDMI module was plugged in. The left rear port is also affected but less frequently. Right now, the rear right port switches off the internal display when HDMI monitor is plugged in and turned on.
Support had no help at hand except the advice to switch to a supported distro or downgrade the kernel (which I did, and later switched back, and now the right rear port acts up).
So, no, not “Linux” in general is HDMI module compatible. The FW hardware or firmware has some unusual feature that not all distros can handle.
I personally do a lot of monitor hopping with my framework (Ubuntu 23.10 currently) and cannot say that I would prefer any option for reliability (usb-c just needs less cables in most cases).
Most frequently I use:
a USB-C Dock with two monitors (2560x1440), one connected via HDMI, one is DP (additionally I always have LAN, audio and usb plugged in there), no issues at all
a 4K monitor with built-in USB-C display port connector, works fine including the USB hub and network adapter
monitor that only supports HDMI with the expansion card, also no issues
I have also used the framework with various cheap usb-c adapters/docks, usually there are no issues. I have also used the HDMI expansion card as an improvised USB-C adapter with different laptop brands. So in general I would guess that as long as Microsoft did not do anything weird you should be fine
I really appreciate everyone being thorough in describing their experiences here, helps us help you - so thanks for this, genuinely.
Here is how this sort of thing usually hammers out.
Docks, we can’t certify compatibility with all the docks out there, so when having an issue, we recommend keeping them to USB-A/USB-C duties and leave the video output to expansion cards.
If you are trying to use USB-C expansion card and are having issues with an external display, try a lower resolution or a different expansion port to see if this changes anything.
If you have a HDMI or DP expansion card and are having trouble, please try different cable and if that doesn’t work, then try a different expansion slot - if this also fails, time for a support ticket linking to your post here in this thread.
tltr: Docks and adapters will be the #1 cause of flaky external display experiences.