As read at http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...r&d=2010-01-05"shane2peru: stuff is going on over there at ATI and they started dropping support for Linux drivers"
What does that mean?!
It's only a matter of time
The closed source driver should be considered as a stop-gap solution for temporarily providing half-as'd video drivers on linux. It is really a windoze driver that has been wrapped in a bunch of layers of crud to make it sort-of work in linux.
The real linux drivers are open source. And that is where a huge part of their linux strategy lies. Now naturally, going from nothing to everything can't be an instantaneous move -- it is and has been a big game of catch of with years of neglect by ATI. The changes really started back in 06 when ATI got swallowed up by the much more benevolent AMD. ATI, back before 06, had a serious crackhead problem. They didn't offer much (if anything AT ALL) in the way of documentation that could be used by open source driver developers -- and this went on for years. They are now starting to catch up with the backlog. Everything up to R700 is more-or-less working. There are some major architectural changes in the pipeline, but the big stuff has been done. R800 shouldn't take nearly as long as it took for R600/R700 due to the similarities and **relatively** small backlog of stuff that needs to be done first.
To translate that all into a concise answer to your concern, NO, AMD is NOT dropping linux support. AMD is ADVANCING linux support far beyond anything previously imagined. AMD is building itself into the STRONGEST position of support by ANY graphics vendor in terms of linux support. What they have is strong hardware (unlike intel, which has WEAK hardware) combined with a very good to excellent -- and quickly improving -- out-of-the-box experience (unlike nvidia, which refuses to provide the documentation required for real open source drivers, and thus provides a VERY VERY BAD out-of-the-box experience).
You see, the big question is this:
You have two vendors with hardware that *just works* when you install *any* linux distro (intel and AMD), and you have two vendors which have decent hardware performance (AMD and Nvidia). Which one would you choose? I would choose the ONLY one that happens to be BOTH.
To be fair, supporting OS drivers wouldn't have been wise for the company when it was just ATI. Large Companies aren't about pleasing the moral agenda of linux users, they're about making money. With any company, linux users get what they want if and only if it somehow makes the company money.
Providing documentation and drivers is a huge effort. If you read bridgman's posts between the lines, you'll get an understanding just how many people are involved and how expensive their OS efforts actually are.
What would ATI have had to gain from that investment? It could have shifted the sales numbers slightly within the linux desktop market, which is maybe ~2% of the entire desktop market. Altogether, it could have increased their market share by what? Maybe 0.5%? Hardly worth spending millions.
It's probably the same reason with nVidia. They have drivers that are good enough to please most linux users, their market share would increase even less if they provided proper OS drivers. Not worth the effort. If there's anything nVidia has to worry about, it's not a handful of linux users not buying their cards any more.
Now why did AMD/ATI decide to start an effort towards documentation and OS drivers? For the same reason they bought ATI in the first place: integrated platforms with joined CPU/GPU combinations (i.e. Fusion). If they want to sell netbooks, smartphones, HTPCs, HD recorders and others with their hardware, there has to be good linux support, which can only mean OS drivers.
The current linux users are basically guinea pigs to test the new drivers, increased linux sales and reputation being just a nice side effect. AMD as a company doesn't care much about us , they care about future Fusion sales. But that's fine with me, I'd be happy to be a guinea pig once evergreen starts being supported
 of course, those involved with the linux program care very much, they're doing a good job. Current linux users just don't play a major role in the company's long-term strategy, the OEMs choosing Fusion for their products do. Because that's where the real money is.
Then it is not a long term strategyCurrent linux users just don't play a major role in the company's long-term strategy
Who can say that linux won't be the primary application development platform for hand-held devices like google's nexus one or nokia's linux based devices? Or the primary web design platform for WebGL? Then many of the today's linux desktop users will become app or webgl developers for those platforms (which includes opengl based graphics design). What would they think before building their next machine?
"Hmm yeah AMD's linux support is crap but I hope it will get better in the future"?
Its not logical for a long term strategy to be this* blind...
this year i will buy my 5. amd/ati cart in just 3 years now.
over 3 years now the linux support Grows strongly.
the real diverence nvidia vs amd is really smal only on smal CPU's you can feel the diverence @ viedeo acceleration.
on an strong quatcore workstation there is no problem play a fucking viedeo.
Oh, the laptop runs fine under fedora 12 with a nvidia card, while the desktop computer with it's ati card is randomly crashing if I choose the bad app...
Company of Heroes, steam version, wine 1.1.35 & wine 1.1.31, catalyst 9.12, HD4850.
I've also tried under ubuntu with packaged wine & fglrx, the game does not start if I try to raise graphical details a little and I have GLSL errors if shaders are enabled. Under fedora, the game start but Xorg is completely freezed when the first frame is rendered.