DisplayLink Software Causing MS Office and Internet Explorer Crashes

We've just had an interesting support call and, after some hours, found the solution to the problem so thought we'd share it here so that others might save time on the same issue.

The problem:

Brand new PC - very good spec, not that it is relevant to the problem, but a joy to work on as it is a Fujitsu i7 PC with 16 Gbytes of memory and a Samsung 512 Gbyte SSD drive so everything is very quick in Windows 7 (the machine is licenced for Windows 10 also but LOB (Line Of Business) software at site means that this can't yet be used.

Everything was working fine on the machine and software installs of Adobe, Office, Dropbox and other utilities etc. and then Office stopped working. Outlook was in the process of downloading / synchronising email box from Office 365 Exchange mail when it all just stopped working.

The error we were getting was instant upon launch of Office, and we found that Internet Explorer (IE11) was doing the same. You'd click on the icon to launch and no - crash, not happy.

We went in circles for quite a while on this - was it DLL issues, was the problem due to DLLs? Would repairing / removing and reinstalling Office work or would 32 / 64 bit make a difference? Having not got very far, we escalated the issue with Microsoft. Their support for Office 365 is very good and quick and a testament to their dedication to customer satisfaction. About 30 minutes after logging the ticket, we had a joint remote session on the PC affected and I explained what we were seeing and what diagnostics we'd done so far etc. so that we need not repeat things.

Pretty quickly, Jibin (the Microsoft Engineer assigned to the ticket) asked about recently installed programs, so I replied that it was all very standard utilities and software we often install on machines and all good and clean (known sources and corporate licences). We had a look at Program Files and Jibin asked about one that evidently popped out at him on the list, which was: Displaylink - which I did not particularly recognise or recall having installed to the best of my knowledge. Jibin went on to explain that this software is often automatically installed by external screen hardware like USB docking bays and external screen drivers. The version that we had installed (probably from something like a USB Dock being plugged into the computer) was version X and that he'd seen this before. We uninstalled the software (a few clicks), downloaded the latest version from and installed.

After a quick reboot, everything worked perfectly and normally again. I'm very glad we logged this ticket as searching on the net for the problem was in this case bringing up blanks. So Jibin Samuel at Microsoft, thank you very much for your help and sharing your experience :-)

We'd not noticed the software as it is automatically installed by devices and sounds rather innocuous in name. Newer versions of the software are much better on this.

For anyone else, if you find that MS Office and Internet Explorer crash quickly, immediately after clicking on the icons and Office installs are failing, do have a look for DisplayLink in Programs and Features.

Good luck fixing this problem if you have the same problem.

Welcome to The New Dawn of Open Source Networking with Vyos - a Vyatta (now Brocade) Fork

Onega are fans of Open Source software though we are aware that this is not a be-all and end-all in business. Philosophy aside, you have to first ask yourself if an open source project makes economic sense - i.e. weigh up (cost of software aside - Open Source does not necessarily mean no cost) the cost of ownership, support options and if it is the best tool for the job. Open Source projects can be really good, or they can be rubbish!

So, general points on Open Source aside, I recently have been learning about VYOS. This is a Fork (spin out) from Vyatta, which in turn packaged Xorp then Quagga network projects and others to create a fully-featured Open Source router.

Onega have been using Vyatta since 2006, which was early in its conception. We were the first ISP BGP implementation of Vyatta globally and we've been very happy with the software which offers features and protocols that normally are only found on the 'big iron' network equipment such as that from Cisco, Juniper or Extreme, but at a much lower price point (and running on standard X86 / X64 Intel based servers). Vyatta was purchased by networking giant Brocade (best known for their Fibre SAN routers) in November 2012.

When we first bought into Vyatta, the cost was approx. £220 a year for a three year enterprise subscription -  then Approx £450 a year for a similar Enterprise support and update subscription upon renewal and now, at renewal under Brocade (who bought Vyatta out) has gone up to approximately £900 a year. So every three years the cost has doubled. I'm not sure if it can sustain being doubled again.  I guess this is as a result of going from a young and aggressive company being disruptive to the mainstream networking industry through to being a mature part of a big player.

Considering that our need of support for the Vyatta routing software has been quite minimal over time (two primary support tickets in just under ten years is not bad) and given our familiarity with the protocols and the product, the value added makes us question if we need the full Brocade support. Since having been purchased, Vyatta branding has been dropped and so have all references to community and Open Source.

Thus, I was very happy to discover Vyos - -recently. This is an Open Source fork of one of the later Vyatta Open Source releases and it is actively updated, developed and supported. This is in use at thousands of sites around the world and looks to be just the ticket for Onega's own network use to upgrade our older Vyatta routers. An Intel based server with a modern processor and appropriate network interfaces (typically fibre, gigabit Ethernet and 10Gbps Ethernet now) will provide an excellent and very high throughput server compared to a traditional Cisco router, with more flexibility for upgrading where needed, and no vendor lock in.

We also make use of the excellent MicroTik ( routers for wireless and smaller networks and their OS is available separately to their hardware to do similar jobs. But for core networking, Vyos looks like it will fit the bill. Full kudos to the team that continue to work to make it a success in the Open Source project space.

Well worth a look if you are in need of router upgrades to see how this would work in your case. Onega have good experience at implementing and supporting these solutions and they are very much production ready and proven with years of solid core networking use here at Onega and around the world.