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Mint and Starling: A Perfect Couple

Logo Linux Mint

Image via Wikipedia

I have always preferred Linux Mint to straight up Ubuntu. It tends to run better and I love the Mint Menu. It more or less allows me total control of my operating system through the menu. So, when I bought the Ubuntu centric Starling from System76, I was a little disappointed Mint would not work.

I think that is my major disappointment with System76. I perfectly understand that their drivers are designed for Ubuntu but it seems like they specifically cripple it for Linux Mint.  On their Knowledge Base they have a wiki on getting Windows working on the Starling, but then seem to go out of their way to cripple a distro in the Ubuntu family.

My first frustration, with a wonderful computer BTW, was I could never get Linux Mint to boot via Live USB. Live USB would start up for a Ubuntu image but not Mint using the same software. While I perfectly understand catering to a specific distro with the default installation, it should in no way cripple other distros from being installed.

While Starling is a fine computer, and Ubuntu 10.10 worked nicely, Linux Mint is my distro of choice. As soon as I got 10.10 up and running I installed WebupD8’s Mint Menu and Global Menu. In many ways Mint Menu is what makes the Mint experience, but it still bothered me that Mint could not install outright.

I had Ubuntu 10.10 updated with System76 drivers, and discovered the Mint Repos. Why I hadn’t thought of this before is beyond me. Mint is just Ubuntu on sterroids any way. I initially added debs like backup and mint-install with no ill effect. Eventually I put on mint-system which made my distro full blown Linux Mint.

It turns out wireless works fine, I actually think it is less finicky than before. Webcam works fine, except for video. So clearly there is nothing in Linux Mint that prohibits it from working nicely with the Starling. In fact I would argue its a better fit than Ubuntu straight up.

There are two possibilities here. One Linux Mint has long been known for its superior driver support and maybe System76 drivers are just not needed with Mint. The other is that with the drivers installed on 10.10 work close to perfectly on Linux Mint. There is nothing in the System76 drivers themselves that won’t work in Linux Mint. The wrapper that installs the drivers however will only work on Ubuntu.

Here is the point I’d like to make. I have no problem with System76 catering to Ubuntu in fact I think they should. Ubuntu and its family of distros certainly have a strong plurality of linux users. I have no problem with Ubuntu being on there as the default distro. I have no problem with the System76 driver being focused on Ubuntu. What I do have a problem with is other distros being crippled in some way as not being able to boot a live usb on a non ubuntu distro and system 76 drivers being crippled on non Ubuntu distros.

I want to be clear I am very happy with my Starling. It is working even better now with Linux Mint on it. I just wish it would have been an easier process.


4 responses to “Mint and Starling: A Perfect Couple

  1. For the record I don’t really like Linux Mint it runs “hotter” than Ubuntu and is a lot heavier than Ubuntu as well. The Unified menu is nothing new we see it quite nicely in KDE and have for a while. I give Linux Mint a huge amount of credit for not going along with Unity, and creating Linux Mint Debian Edition which is in my opinion better.

    Here are a few counter points to your post. I am sure you have are already aware of them.

    I think your just paranoid. I am a Ubuntu user as well as Kubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and Crunchbang. Linux Mint is a lot more radical and a lot less meticulous about there “coding” and there are a lot of stability issues that you might run into.

    Your mentioning of drivers when comparing Ubuntu and Linux Mint is rather silly. Linux Mint is a derivative of the latest version of Ubuntu. The drivers employed are either open-source and limited or proprietary and work perfectly. When you are installing Linux Mint on your computer are you installing the proprietary drivers the way system76 does for you.

    System76 like any other computer company besides google couldn’t careless what you do with your computer after you fork over the money. I don’t think you actually believe they crippled their computers for any other OS because they provide documentation for installing Windows.

    Overall you might want to look at other operating systems to test, Debian and Fedora are two different animals that might work well for you as ways of testing out the computer.

    I use Ubuntu, and love it as an ever evolving beast, but the derivatives made off of it make a fatal error. Ubuntu is released every six months. For large team and a massive community that is still a huge endeavor basing an operating system of of their product always puts derivatives behind having to work with what they can.

  2. I don’t believe you have ever used Mint. One thing its not is heavier than Ubuntu. Linux Mint Debian is much faster because it got rid of the Ubuntu base.

    I have tried other distros, same effect. If its not a Ubuntu live usb it does not boot. Again the drivers seem to be just fine, no ill effect when I put mint on. The issue is the wrapper that installs them won’t install them on a non-ubuntu distro.

    My Windows comment was in reference to irony of a Wiki setting up your system76 on Windows, not nothing like that for non ubuntu distros, even ones in the same family.

    My point was not that system76 should go out of there way to support Mint, but they should not add obstacles either.

  3. I am not sure what you mean by heavier. Ubuntu on its own always felt buggier which made it slower. Mint always made it stabler and as a result faster. LMDE is much faster than Ubuntu.

    But then that was my point. The Ubuntu Deb should not be crippled when it will run perfectly well on it.

    My largest problem with Ubuntu is their fuck the user attitude. We are going to do this or that no matter what the end user wants.

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