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. http://packages.linuxmint.com/list.php?release=Julia 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.