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Enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04

Ubuntu 20

In this article, we will provide a detailed guide on how to enable Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04. Thunderbolt is a hardware interface that allows for the connection of external peripherals to a computer. It has gained popularity due to its high data transfer speed and versatility.

Quick Answer

To enable Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04, you need to install the necessary kernel modules, configure the Thunderbolt security settings in BIOS, and install the bolt and thunderbolt-tools packages. After following these steps, you should be able to connect and use Thunderbolt devices on your Ubuntu system.

Prerequisites

Before proceeding, ensure that you have the following:

  • A system running Ubuntu 20.04.
  • Administrative access or sudo privileges.
  • A Thunderbolt device for testing.

Installing Necessary Kernel Modules

The first step in enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04 is to install the necessary kernel modules. The kernel is the core of the operating system and the modules are pieces of code that can be loaded and unloaded into the kernel upon demand. They extend the functionality of the kernel without the need to reboot the system.

Open a terminal and run the following command:

sudo apt install linux-modules-extra-$(uname -r)

In this command, sudo is used to execute the command with root privileges. apt install is the command to install packages on Ubuntu. linux-modules-extra-$(uname -r) is the package we want to install. Here, uname -r is used to get the current running kernel version.

After the installation, reboot your system to load the new kernel modules.

Loading Kernel Modules Manually

If you want to load the kernel modules manually without rebooting the system, you can use the modprobe command as follows:

sudo modprobe thunderbolt
sudo modprobe intel-wmi-thunderbolt

The modprobe command adds and removes modules from the Linux Kernel. In this case, thunderbolt and intel-wmi-thunderbolt are the modules we want to load.

Configuring Thunderbolt Security Settings in BIOS

Next, you need to check the Thunderbolt security settings in your system’s BIOS. Make sure the Thunderbolt security level is set to “none” or “no security”. This will allow Thunderbolt devices to connect without any restrictions.

To access BIOS, you usually need to press a specific key (like F2, F12, Delete, or Esc) during the system startup. The key varies depending on the system manufacturer and model. Once in the BIOS, navigate to the Thunderbolt settings, usually found under the ‘Advanced’ or ‘Security’ tabs.

Checking Thunderbolt Functionality

After rebooting, you can check if the Thunderbolt is working by connecting a Thunderbolt device, such as a dock or external display. If Thunderbolt is enabled, the device should be recognized and usable.

Installing Bolt and Thunderbolt-Tools

If you haven’t installed the bolt and thunderbolt-tools packages, you can do so by running the following commands:

sudo apt install bolt
sudo apt install thunderbolt-tools

These packages are used for managing Thunderbolt devices on Ubuntu. bolt is a system daemon that manages Thunderbolt 3 devices, while thunderbolt-tools is a utility for managing Thunderbolt controllers and devices.

Troubleshooting

If Thunderbolt is still not working after following these steps, there may be additional configuration or compatibility issues specific to your hardware. You can try updating your system’s firmware or checking for any known issues with Thunderbolt support on your machine. The Ubuntu community and forums are great resources for troubleshooting specific issues.

Conclusion

Enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04 involves installing and loading the necessary kernel modules, configuring the Thunderbolt security settings in BIOS, and installing the bolt and thunderbolt-tools packages. While these steps should generally enable Thunderbolt functionality, additional troubleshooting may be required for specific hardware configurations.

Remember, Thunderbolt is a powerful interface that can significantly enhance your system’s capabilities. With it enabled, you can enjoy high-speed data transfers and versatile connectivity options.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt is a hardware interface that allows for the connection of external peripherals to a computer. It provides high data transfer speeds and versatile connectivity options.

Can I enable Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04?

Yes, you can enable Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04 by following the steps outlined in this guide.

What are the prerequisites for enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04?

The prerequisites for enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04 are a system running Ubuntu 20.04, administrative access or sudo privileges, and a Thunderbolt device for testing.

How do I install the necessary kernel modules for Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04?

To install the necessary kernel modules, open a terminal and run the command "sudo apt install linux-modules-extra-$(uname -r)". After installation, reboot your system to load the new kernel modules.

Can I load the kernel modules manually without rebooting the system?

Yes, you can load the kernel modules manually without rebooting the system by using the "modprobe" command. Run "sudo modprobe thunderbolt" and "sudo modprobe intel-wmi-thunderbolt" in the terminal.

How do I configure Thunderbolt security settings in BIOS?

To configure Thunderbolt security settings in BIOS, access the BIOS settings by pressing a specific key during system startup (e.g., F2, F12, Delete, or Esc). Navigate to the Thunderbolt settings, usually found under the ‘Advanced’ or ‘Security’ tabs, and set the Thunderbolt security level to "none" or "no security".

How can I check if Thunderbolt is working after enabling it on Ubuntu 20.04?

After enabling Thunderbolt and rebooting, you can check if it is working by connecting a Thunderbolt device, such as a dock or external display. If Thunderbolt is enabled, the device should be recognized and usable.

Are there any additional packages I need to install for managing Thunderbolt devices on Ubuntu 20.04?

Yes, you can install the "bolt" and "thunderbolt-tools" packages by running the commands "sudo apt install bolt" and "sudo apt install thunderbolt-tools" in the terminal.

What should I do if Thunderbolt is still not working after following the steps?

If Thunderbolt is still not working, there may be additional configuration or compatibility issues specific to your hardware. You can try updating your system’s firmware or checking for any known issues with Thunderbolt support on your machine. The Ubuntu community and forums are great resources for troubleshooting specific issues.

What are the benefits of enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04?

Enabling Thunderbolt on Ubuntu 20.04 allows you to enjoy high-speed data transfers and versatile connectivity options. It enhances your system’s capabilities and enables you to connect external peripherals such as docks, displays, and storage devices.

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