I have only confirmed this works with Raspbian, btw...
If you just wanted to connect directly to your laptop, you can specify a static IP address on the same subnet as your laptop in the cmdline.txt in the root directory of your flashed (Raspbian) SD card. You just make sure your ethernet port on your laptop is set to obtain an address automatically (DHCP). Then add an ip address in the self assigned IP range at the end of the cmdline.txt like this:
dwc_otg.lpm_enable=0 console=ttyAMA0,115200 console=tty1 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline rootwait ip=169.254.0.2
You can just edit the file directly on the SD card. Save the file. Eject the SD card and return it to the pi. Plug your network cable into your laptop and the other end into the pi. Boot up the pi and after a minute, you should be able to access it via SSH at the IP address you assigned.
Here's is some more detail: http://pihw.wordpress.com/guides/direct-network-connection/in-a-nut-shell-direct-network-connection/