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Updating BIOS to 2.1.0 makes support for TB16 even worse

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Updating BIOS to 2.1.0 makes support for TB16 even worse

This question has been answered by arkascha

After more or less having given up on Dell being able to provide a working setup with their own products I today found the new BIOS firmware version 2.1.0 and gave it a try. 

My setup: xps13 (9360 running Ubuntu with kernel 4.10) with a TB16 with updated firmware. 

I upgraded previously and spend quite some time trying to solve various issues. Had different docking stations from Dell before and ran into huge issues. That got better with the second TB16 I received (the first was some early bird model apparently and did not work reliable at all). With the current TB16 which I have been using for month now I can boot with a connected dock. Hotplugging will sometimes work, sometimes not. I can attach a screen through the dock (DisplayPort) which works ok-ish, did not even bother to check HDMI because of endless reports that it does not work. Back side audio does not work but the front one, ok, not nice but who cares. The ethernet is unusable, works for maybe a minute, then starts to drop and pick up the connection all the time. Unusable, so I have to use WiFi all the time. Great for a docking station... At least USB in the dock worked for my keyboard and mouse, so for slow devices. 

After upgrading to the current BIOS (2.1.0, had 1.3.2 previously) things have not improved, ethernet still unusable. But to my horror I found out that USB on the dock does not work any more reliably. Keyboard and mouse are recognized and work for maybe a minute, then they die. Replugging them reactivates them, again for maybe a minute. So unusable too now. Great! 

I have to plug both USB receivers into the Laptop itself. Exactly one of the reasons why I invested lots of money into the dock: to not having to attach all sorts of plugs manually. 

This is sooooo frustrating. 
Apparently Dell gave up to find a solution to the problems with their own hardware. 
Why is there a "project" and messages that they are working on a solution, when nothing happens even after month? Frankly I doubt anyone actually works on those huge issues. To me this looks like Dell simply gave up on fixing their own hardware they sold for much money. Very sad. 

Or does anyone have a hint for me that helps solving at least the annoying new issue with the USB ports on the TB16? 
Can I downgrade to a previous version of the BIOS (1.3.2) or will that ruin the system? 

Verified Answer
  • I have news, actually I have POSITIVE NEWS!

    This is a bit awkward, but it looks like I could solve some of the issues in a very simple manner:

    I realized that mouse and keyboard dying after a minute resembled my ethernet inside the TB16 also dying after some time and that all of that points towards power management. So I registered all three, the mouse receiver, the keyboard receiver and the ethernet adapter inside the dock on the blacklist of the power management to prevent them from ever getting auto suspended.

    Et voilá: I have been using my mouse and keyboard for a few hours now without any issue, also the ethernet suddenly appears to work fine so far, though I only registered that inside the blacklist some 30 minutes ago. So I will have to monitor that a bit longer.

    What is strange about this:

    Mouse and keyboard did work reliable before updating the BIOS. No changes to power management done by me before. The blacklist already contained USB HID devices before, which apparently was sufficient before the update. Now, after the update, it appears as if mouse and keyboard are not registered as HID devices any more which explains why the old blacklist does not cover them any more...

    Dell might want to take this as a hint to either fix the actual cause of the issue or to contribute to the Linux power management to prevent USB devices plugged into the TB16 to be auto suspended.

    The audio jack on the TB16 backside still does not work and most likely HDMI still is not usable. But lucky me has an old panel with a display port.


All Replies
  • Hi,

    i am in the same boat. XPS 13 9350 + TB16. After Thunderbold and Bios update. My Dock is dead, only display work. (Windows + Linux)

  • Hm, sounds like an entirely different issue to me, actually...

  • JFYI: I have Dell DS1000 and it works pretty well with 4.13.

    But situation with TB16 is ridiculous...

  • Good day Community,

    While Dell does not officially support TB16 on 9360 DEV Edition, I can confirm that Dell is working to resolve the USB concerned that started after updating to 2.1.0. I'm in the loop on the internal progress and will post updates as soon as I know more.

    Justin C

    Dell Technical Support L3 | Project Sputnik

    Dell Support is also on Twitter! https://twitter.com/DellCaresPRO


  • +1 - Exact same problem here. The dock is unusable except for power and external displays. I won't even try connecting a USB hard drive there.

  • Interesting enough the TB16 dock _does_ allow me to use USB: I copied 1.6GB of data to a USB stick attached to the dock this morning without any issue. Under load though, no idle time...

  • @Justin C I do appreciate your comment and thanks to the Dell staff to show activity on this issue!

    I failed to find any information about such activities though anywhere on the Dell pages. I could imagine that it would be a great help for all users (paying customers!) if such activities would be published in any form. As an aspect if transparency. Would that be possible? Because without that everyone is left with single, unauthorized remarks dropped here and here, from time to time, which certainly is not convincing...

  • @Arkascha,

    Happy to engage with you.

    I can tell you that once a solution to the USB concern is found and made available, a knowledge base article outlining the solution should be posted in public form. If/when I get that document, I will share it here first.

    Justin C

    Dell Technical Support L3 | Project Sputnik

    Dell Support is also on Twitter! https://twitter.com/DellCaresPRO


  • I can only confirm. Overall, the experience is getting worse and worse as updates come in? I mean seriously, this is outrageous, after spending over $2600 on the solution, we can't get anything decent?

  • @Dell-Justin C : Any chance Dell could make BIOS file for 1.3.2 available again ? I also would like to see if it is causing graphics issue somehow. Or a link in this forum maybe for anyone who's kept it around by any chance?

    Right now, my laptop is useless :-/

    Thank you.

  • Hi

    I'm not sure if BIOS can be downgraded at all. But if it can - you can get 1.3.2 here


  • ah, would have been good to have the .exe, as to update straight from the bios with the flash update tool. Thanks for the link though!

  • @Justin C

    Why was BIOS version 1.0.7 "released" today? Is that the fix? Do you want us to downgrade?

    There was also a bunch of other drivers "released" today but they are identical binaries to ones released previously.

  • @cypher435 Indeed that looks very strange. Version 1.0.7 should be _really_ old. But no mentioning at all of that, just comments about the huge "improvements" it brings.

    So what should we do with that "release"?

    Again as typical no information at all from Dell.

    Sooooo frustrating, how paying customers are treated.

  • Probably 1.0.7 is for thous who wants to downgrade from 2.1.0. But it's just my guess. Any comment from Dell will be much appreciated.