A few weeks after I received my new laptop, System76 sent out a quick survey. I filled it out and entered a bunch of the information that I’ve posted here around the issues that I’ve run into.
Much to my surprise, they actually opened up a support case, and were quite helpful at providing at least some kind of suggestion for every point I brought up, including positive comments.
After a bit of back-and-forth troubleshooting, it looks like this is a specific device incompatibility with my Denon AVR-789. Nothing that they can reproduce. Works fine when I test directly with another TV. I suspect it has something to do with improperly initializing the sound output. I can trick it into playing the audio by running some audio that works, and unpausing the audio I want before it clears the audio connection. System76 were super patient troubleshooting this, providing many reasonable options, but for now, I’ll need to wait until the bug is squashed. Probably just an edge case too-new hardware.
Middle mouse button
This was more of a comment (personally, I believe all Linux laptops should not be without a middle mouse button), but surprisingly, they addressed it. Instead of suggesting clicking both buttons at the same time, they actually pointed me at a way to set up a “middle click” keyboard hotkey. I’m fine with the clicking both mouse buttons, but you learn something new every day.
Another (positive) observation on the feedback form, they provided a configuration to lower the brightness (beyond the function keys).
For this one, System76 support recommended an inexpensive way to spray coat the lid to prevent further scratches. Not a direct solution, but I’m not really broken up by the scratches (though I’m sure other people would be). It’s like the first scratch on a new car, gotta rip that band-aid off early so you don’t have to constantly worry and be paranoid about keeping it scratch-free. Though I do think this speaks directly to the quality of the plastics used, and unlike all of the other responses, this was an excuse, not a solution. They did mention that more often than not, they simply replace scratched lids.
Keyboard dead spot
Support jumped on this issue and said they would quickly send out a replacement keyboard. I was actually blown away by how readily they wanted to solve this problem. However, I was crestfallen a day later when they quoted $61 for shipping, since I didn’t opt to purchase the Canadian Shipping Warranty option. I expected there to be a shipping cost, but the shipping warranty at purchase was only $48. After a bit of back-and-forth, they were looking into less expensive USPS shipping options, and found that, since it was so close to purchase, they were able to offer me the option to purchase the shipping warranty - which sounds like a slimy used-car-salesman tactic the way I describe it here, but that was not how it was presented.
Overall, I was surprised at the quality of support that I received. For some of it, it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, for others, they just simply cared and spent the time looking up a solution. There were a few points where prices were misquoted and forms were a bit buggy, but there was always a good reason. I’m disheartened that there is such a disparity between the cost of the shipping warranty and the cost of shipping an individual part (possibly one-way?). All told, I’ve been messaging back-and-forth with them for a week and a half or so now. They’re fast to respond, but on most days, because timezones and my work hours, it’s a day turn-around between messages.