Applications That Use OpenGL Such As Google Sketchup or Google Earth Do Not Work As Expected When Connected to a DisplayLink-Based Docking Station

Last Update: February 4th, 2021
Article ID: 811929

Docking stations based on DisplayLink USB video technology are in essence a 'virtual' graphics adapter that relies on the host laptop's CPU and internal physical graphics processing unit (aka as GPU) to generate the information shown on the dock-attached displays.

In rare instances, Windows applications that use a technology known as OpenGL to draw the image shown on the display will attempt to direct OpenGL related tasks to the DisplayLink-based docking station's virtual graphics adapter, and not to the 'real'/'physical' GPU within the laptop.  

Since the dock is not a physical GPU that supports OpenGL, this can sometimes cause applications that make use of OpenGL (such as Google Earth or AutoCAD) to not work as expected or result in various types of error messages. 

The true root cause of this behavior can vary, and ultimately lies outside of the docking station or its associated DisplayLink driver. In some cases the root cause lies within the Windows driver for the host system's physical GPU and in rarer cases within the Windows operating system itself.  

In some cases updating either the driver for the system's internal GPU or updating Windows itself (when Microsoft provides such updates) can help, however that is unfortunately not always the case.

If updating those components does not help, in most cases there are two possible workarounds. 

The first is to configure Windows to have the ‘Main’ display set to a display directly connected to the host system's built-in internal GPU, whether that is an internal laptop display or another external display connected to one of the system's built-in video outputs (a quick guide to doing so is here -> 

If the first option does not prove a suitable workaround, the second option is to boot the system without the dock connected, launching the affected application, and then connecting the dock may also help.