I’ve spent some time trying to get Thunderbolt and USB-C docks working with my System76 Galago Pro laptop. It took me a while to find information on this, and I figured I would post my findings here just in case anyone else is also searching for a solution. In this article, I’ll mention a few tweaks that are related to making this work.
Out of the box, USB-C and Thunderbolt docks do not seem to work with the Galago Pro. I found this strange, since I read that others had no problem getting these docks to work on laptops made by other manufacturers (such as Lenovo). What I found is that there are a couple of BIOS settings to tweak. It’s possible that other laptop manufacturers/models may require similar changes.
On this particular laptop, you can enter the BIOS by pressing F2 a handful of times after you first power on the device until you see the Setup Utility.
First, inspect the “Security Level” setting for Thunderbolt. It’s in Advanced, and then under “Intel(R) Thunderbolt”. It should be set to “Unique ID”. You can actually disable Thunderbolt security outright, but I don’t recommend you do that – there’s a reason that the Security Level setting exists, and Thunderbolt has BUS access. You definitely don’t want to disable Thunderbolt security. I have found that Ubuntu (and by extension, Pop!_OS) work just fine with the security enabled out of the box, the GNOME desktop is able to authorize Thunderbolt docks just fine. (I haven’t tried other docks). I have had issues getting Arch Linux to authorize the dock via GNOME, even with the appropriate software installed. Your mileage may vary. (If anyone knows the solution for Arch, please comment!)
Second, there’s another BIOS setting you need to change. This is the reason it took me months to figure this out, because I found this on accident. In the BIOS (back at the main screen), go to the Advanced tab, and then “Advanced Chipset Control.” There, set DDI Control to “DDI to TBT”. This is the magic setting that fixed all of my problems.
I have personally tested a few USB-C dongles made primarily for Macbooks, and also a Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Dock. With the above settings, they work fine. I do have to disable Thunderbolt security for Arch to work, but when I have time I plan on looking into why that is (I don’t plan on keeping Thunderbolt security disabled and neither should you).
I hope this article helps someone, if anyone out there is looking for a solution like I was.