I have recently acquired a Dell UltraSharp 34, a very nice screen able to drive up to four different inputs. It also has an USB hub.
I use it with two laptops:
one laptop for working, plugged in USB-C
one laptop for testing, plugged in DisplayPort and USB upstream
As for the USB hub, I plug in it my keyboard, mouse and headphones. Now, when I
toggle the input the USB hub automatically switches to the laptop which
currently uses the screen. This is cool but not that easy. To effectively
switch the input source, one needs to click on a button behind the screen,
choose the function
input source with a kind of joystick, then select the
desired input and click again. This is quite complicated for such a simple and
Fortunately the screen provides an I2C interface allowing to programmatically change the screen settings from a computer connected to it. On Linux these settings can be changed using the software ddcutil.
Firstly, in order to use this tool, the kernel module
i2c-dev must be loaded.
Then rights must be set to access the device as a non-root user. For
simplicity’s sake, I decided to give the rights to the
users group. Here is
the relevant part of my
configuration.nix for NixOS
[ "i2c-dev" ]; boot.kernelModules = "KERNEL==\"i2c-[0-9]*\", GROUP+=\"users\""; services.udev.extraRules =
Now to make sure
ddcutil is working correctly, call the commands
$ ddcutil detect Invalid display I2C bus: /dev/i2c-4 EDID synopsis: Mfg id: AUO Model: Product code: 22333 Serial number: Binary serial number: 0 (0x00000000) Manufacture year: 2018, Week: 0 DDC communication failed This is an eDP laptop display. Laptop displays do not support DDC/CI. Display 1 I2C bus: /dev/i2c-5 EDID synopsis: Mfg id: DEL Model: DELL U3421WE Product code: 41349 Serial number: 9C6P653 Binary serial number: 810566732 (0x3050444c) Manufacture year: 2020, Week: 52 VCP version: 2.1
My Dell screen is correctly detected. Then the command
$ ddcutil capabilities ... Feature: 60 (Input Source) Values: 1b: Unrecognized value 0f: DisplayPort-1 11: HDMI-1 12: HDMI-2 ...
This last command will dump a bunch of things that can be set using
and in particular the command to switch inputs.
Now if I want to switch the screen input to
DisplayPort-1, all I have to do
is calling the command
setvcp for the feature
Input Source with the value
given by the
$ ddcutil setvcp 60 0x0f
And if I want to switch it back to USB-C:
$ ddcutil setvcp 60 0x1b
I only use these two inputs so I made a script to quickly toggle between the two:
#!/usr/bin/env bash set -o nounset set -o errexit # Get current input current=$(ddcutil getvcp 60 | sed -n "s/.*(sl=\(.*\))/\1/p") # Get the other input case $current in # Usb 0x1b) output=0x0f ;; # Display port 0x0f) output=0x1b ;; *) echo "Unknown input" exit 1 ;; esac # Set new input ddcutil setvcp 60 $output
I’d love to be able to switch only the USB hub as well but unfortunately it doesn’t seem possible with this screen. If you know a way to do it, let me know.