ATI graphics cards suck and I can’t recommend buying them. I’ve spent significant amount of time trying to get run their proprietary drivers on Linux and the conclusion is that the X.Org free drivers are dozen times better than those from ATI, despite 3D acceleration and TV-out don’t work with my ATI card. Effectively, my new ATI card is a 3D incapable device without TV output.
I don’t believe NVidia is much better – I’ve once had particularly bad experience with an NVidia graphics card. Intel cards are well supported, but does Intel make anything else than onboard cards? We clearly miss real competition on the hardware market.
I really can’t understand the ignorance of hardware vendors. They are incapable to produce stable and well working drivers for Linux. Well, why don’t they provide specifications to their devices then and let people make good drivers for free? What’s so secret on accessing 3D graphics acceleration or making a printer to print a borderless photo?!
Will Linux and other non-proprietary operating systems still be usable without essential modern hardware features? I doubt. But what’s the solution? Current market turns into unbreakable oligopoly in many areas, so the natural market mechanism doesn’t work. Open hardware would be the best solution, but it seems this is not something that could become widely accessible in the foreseeable future. Apparently there is not much else to do now than continuing the reverse engineering battle. 🙁