It is strange situation in Linux graphics. I can't imagine any other segment of HW, that was so perseveringly sabotaged by HW vendors. Nowhere else is so much hogwash about IP. In every other segment, there is at least one major vendor who supports Opensource way.
I appreciate nVidia efforts to provide binary driver in those dark times, but this solution is not sustainable for a long time. OSS driver is nescessary and former Linux-ignorant ATI under the direction of AMD showed, that it could be done.
1) ATI strongly attacks nVidia at Windows/DirectX segment.
2) It is obvious fact, that nVidia does not have x86 license, so production of own independed CPU+GPU solution for Windows is imposibble. With binary software, they can hardly go non-Windows (Linux) way with another CPU architecture.
3) With ATI and nVidia binary drivers become close, ATI would have real advantage of additional OSS driver.
Summary: It is time to test actual ATI drivers with some HD4000/5000 card, and I will see....