Yes there are two drivers, but hardly anyone uses radeonhd any more and the normal OSS "ati" driver works with *all* the ATI cards and with 3D acceleration on a recent kernel. (except the very recent R800 which is 2D only atm IIRC).
Also, fglrx isn't too bad any more, the only issue I'm having with it is slow unminimizing with compiz which means I have to run it with compositing disabled. And it's updated every month, I'd hardly call that "infrequent".
I have 2 nvidia laptops, 1 has frequent text corruption with Compiz, the other doesn't recognize the right screen resolution and so I have to supply a EDID file via xorg.conf; nvidia isn't perfect either.
FWIW - I have ATI in my desktop *because* they release documentation, I used to use Nvidia.
It's fine if you like nvidia, but try not to spread FUD.
Fair points by all. I was a bit harsh and incorrect in regards to the open source drivers. But my dislike of their binary driver comes from experience. About a year ago I bought a cheap ATI card for my media computer, so I needed tree-free video and tvout. I can't remember the exact model now but at the time it wasn't supported by the open drivers and the binary crashed so often I returned the card. Then I got an nvidia and although I'm currently stuck on the closed driver (until tvout support for nv50 is here) it works great. On top of that I've been really impressed with nouveau and use it exclusively on my desktop.
But going by the defense that the open source ati drivers got I will give one of their cards another try. Unfortunately I don't need one right now.
Some of the workstation cards will be pariah for long time because they just wont be in the hands of people who can do anything with them. I think once the expensive workstation card buyers stick foot up nvidia they'll all of a sudden want to help.
FUD.Open Source: Two different drivers for different models of cards, works mostly if the stars are aligned correctly.
You only need to use one driver, and it is stable and accelerated, up to OpenGL 2.0. With KMS and everything else.
I really respect the work the nouveau guys are doing, and they have my support. But I will not support a company which is making things difficult for them.
And AMD open source driver is, by all accounts, far more usable and stable on recent hardware than nouveau.
Right now, Nvidia is the way to go if and only if you love binary blobs and don't care for open standards and open drivers.