Lenovo Thunderbolt docking stations are terrible
Ever since getting my new Thinkpad t14s, my Lenovo ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 gen 1 docking (Type 40AC) started acting up on the USB side.
The USB was flapping constantly (keyboard, mouse, camera and DAC attached to a USB switch plugged into the docking). The keyboard was missing keys, the mouse was lagging every other seconds, etc.
As a workaround, I decided to plug my USB stuff directly into the laptop and move on with life.
But then a couple of weeks later, the docking started acting up with the external display as well. The external display was going blank for no reason. The temporary fix was to unplug and replug the Thunderbolt cable.
I assumed the docking was slowly dying so I asked our IT department for a replacement and they told me they were overwhelmed with Lenovo docking station issues and they were out of stock of Gen 2s anyway.
Dell docking stations are actually quit good
A US based colleague then suggested to get a Dell Thunderbolt Dock WD19TBS instead, claiming that everything worked perfectly on his P51 and that he was able to update its firmwares with
fwupdmgr (which is impossible with Lenovo Gen1s, you need a Windows machine).
I ordered one and got:
- shocked at the price of TB3 docking stations, those things are pricey
- no external display issues anymore :D
- USB flappings, still :(
- a very good impression on the built, it’s solid, probably twice the weight of the Lenovo and it has a fan (that you barely hear when it runs)
Updating Dell docking firmware
I decided to try to update the docking firmwares with
fwupdmgr from my t14s running Fedora 34 and indeed, it just works.
Updating T14s firmwares
Then I decided to upgrade the laptop firmwares but it was not possible because of this error:
WARNING: UEFI ESP partition not detected or configured
My laptop is installed in EFI and everything sits in
If you look at the suggested documentation, they suggest to edit the
uefi_capsule.conf if nothing else works.
I didn’t see the need to do so because
/boot/efi is a location that is supposedly checked.
I decided to proceed with the following:
sudo vim /etc/fwupd/uefi_capsule.conf
From this point on, I was able to update every and each firmwares that could be updated:
sudo fwupdmgr refresh --force sudo fwupdmgr get-devices sudo fwupdmgr update
There were so many things to upgrade that I had to reboot a couple of times.
Updating T480s firmwares
I also managed to update my T480s.
After upgrading all possible firmwares, the USB flapping is gone.
Lenovo Thunderbolt docking stations are quite terrible and unreliable (sources: own experience and IT support claims).
Updating the Gen1 with
fwupdmgr is not possible. You need a Windows machine. Only Gen 2s can be updated from the Linux CLI.
The Dell WD19TBS can be updated with
fwupdmgr may ignore your
/boot/efi install and you need to hardcode the value in
uefi_capsule.conf and reboot.
Even though it might sound not natural, but I recommend to get the Dell Thunderbolt 3 docking for your Lenovo laptop if you have the choice.