I'm through with ATI

I’ve finally done it. Today I installed my new nVidia GeForce GTX 275. After about a year with my Radeon HD 4870 I couldn’t stand it anymore. ATI makes me feel like I’m a beta tester for their drivers. I feel cheated and stupid for being such an idealistic idiot at the same time. They promised to open up their drivers (which was the main reason for me to buy an ATI card in the first place) and neither have they done so in the meantime, nor have they shown any clear sign that they will in the near future.

Even worse, ATI isn’t supporting Linux anymore, they are only supporting Ubuntu and maybe OpenSuse, merely releasing new drivers matching the kernel versions included in the releases of these distributions. As a user of the rolling-release distribution Arch Linux, I have but two choices when new kernel versions come out: Using one of the open source drivers (each lacking certain features such as energy-saving, tv-out or compositing support) or using modified binary drivers.

Concerning the latter, the Arch Linux community has once more impressed me very much. People try to get these drivers to work and are actually quite successful, especially regarding the fact that they neither wrote the drivers, nor are paid for this work. I wonder if ATI watches the famous AMD/ATI Catalyst Bar & Grill for inspiration and tips on their future driver releases…
Nevertheless, the aforementioned busy Archers don’t have access to the driver sources and so even they can’t solve all the problems arising with each new kernel version. And so I – like many other ATI users – had to live with many inconveniences while using them, including not being able to play WoW under Linux, regular manual reinstallations of the drivers and irregular system freezes…

I’d like to note what finally changed my mind to switch back to nVidia although not being a cheap decision: Recently, I met a former lecturer of mine and told him about the situation with the ATI drivers. He told me that he applied at an ATI factory in Germany in 2002 and ATI was talking about opening their drivers even at that time! And then he added that the factory doesn’t exist anymore. I didn’t want to continue looking at such a “promising” future and ordered the nVidia card few days later.

Anyway, the good news is: The nVidia card is working great out of the box! Finally, I can play my favourite game WoW inside my favourite operating system once again. TV-out is working without any hassle, I have options in a graphical dialog I didn’t even touch yet :) And the card is really quiet when idle. Now the only thing left is to get rid of the ATI card.

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