The dilemma of the Linux laptop buyer


Why not go with an ATI GPU? The hardware support on Linux is slowly becoming the best on the ATI front, especially now that the free Gallium drivers are starting to perform rather well (50-70% according to Phoronix on the R600 series). Not only that, future Linux support is looking quite bright for ATI cards. An employee there has stated that open source driver support is expected to be fully synced up with the proprietary drivers in 2-3 generations (that is, around the Radeon 9xxx generation, which probably wouldn't be named like that marketing-wise, but still).

But yeah, the whole power saving support deal is still pretty much unsupported on all drivers so far. Apparently it's slowly becoming a priority on the Radeon Gallium drivers.
I haven’t tried R600g yet for various reasons (all of which are variants of the laziness argument), but Mesa has been stuck with OpenGL 2.1 support for a while due to various technical and even legal reasons — mainly patents in the U.S. covering GL 3 and 4 features — we are not going to see ATI Radeons showcasing their full capabilities using only open-source drivers very soon, and I’d rather not have to wait a whole 12 months after buying my laptop to get full functionality under Linux like the last time.

I mean, if I’ll only get the GL 2.1 subset of what the GPU supports I may as well buy yet another laptop with a lone Intel IGP and rest assured that it will just work at full power.

While Catalyst a.k.a. fglrx is probably a superior option, I don’t know about what their support for newer models is like.

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