The following is a defense of nVidia drivers on Linux (and actually on Windows too).
Firstly, on the OpenGL front: the support for Linux vs Windows is basically the same. So incredibly the same that I have observed the exact same bugs on both, reported the bugs to the developer channel and have seen them fixed at about the same time.
Secondly, well lets wait a moment. I am a professional open source developer, i.e. I get paid to work on that stuff. Currently I am having to deal with Qt which powers KDE. Lets talk some nasty things here:
1. KDE4 was released as pre-alpha quality, in fact KDE4 is still awful in terms of quality.
2. Qt needs serious work and help to improve it's GL support. For those that understand OpenGL and can read C++ code, just open up src/opengl/ in Qt source tree. It has improved significantly in the last 6 months, but it still has serious issues. Compounding the issue, is that the drawing API of Qt (QPainter) poorly maps to GL.
With that in mind, seriously, if KDE4 works poorly there are obvious reasons: firstly KDE4 is still pretty bad, and secondly it uses some pretty odd ball usage patterns of GL. Performance and bug fixing of drivers is catered to common usage patterns. It is not reasonable to expect that a driver works agaisnt any usage pattern, to give you an idea how hard it is to write GL drivers, the GL 3.2 compatibility spec is 558 pages long. Compound that with odd ball usage patterns and in all honesty pre-alpha quality code, it is a shock to me that KDE4 works at all. (Before KDE4 I used KDE always, but once KDE4 was the only KDE option in Fedora, I have dumped KDE completely for GNOME).
As for people jumping up and down loving Intel's open source drivers: they are pretty bad in terms of performance and capabilities, I won't ever target an Intel chipset. It is nice that AMD is releasing many of the low level specs of their cards, but their GL drivers still suck, be it Windows or Linux. Basically, their GL drivers are made to run ID games well and beyond that it is crossing your fingers.
If you want good GL support for Linux or Windows, there really is only one main stream choice: nVidia. Under nVidia, GL support is practically the same in Linux and Windows with the performance being the same too. (Actually for some of my applications, Linux runs faster over Windows).
As for keeping up with the latest "Linux kernel technologies", give me a break people. Sleep and hibernate are buggy in Windows too, its the kiss of death half the time for me using them under Windows (be it Vista or XP). Also, nVidia's X-configuration tool for setting up at least dual monitor's works much better than the monitor setup situation in Vista and XP for me, orders of magnitude better and easier.
Also, open sourcing the drivers is not probably going to be a solution. On all my boxes, the sound drivers are open source drivers, the sound daemon (Pulse audio) is open source, but still on my Dell box, the sound often stops working completely after an hour or so. Shoot sound is still screwed up on the Linux platform. Sound drivers and daemon are orders of magnitudes simpler than 3D graphics. For graphics, under X there have been so many screwed up attempts for fast graphics: DGA, DRI, ect. Ever wonder why nVidia's driver does not support them? The answer is pretty simple: because they are/were bad ideas that should have never seen the light of day.
Now some of you may hate me for providing this link, and the rant of it is out of date some now, being a year old, but it illuminates: http://linuxhaters.blogspot.com/
and go to "I hate Linux Graphics". Unfortunately, the blogger is a vulgar monster and the link http://linuxhaters.blogspot.com/2008...en-source.html
gets edited by the rough language filter of the forum, jsut change **** to the four letter word starting with 's', all lower case.