Re: Nforce, Linux and the endless story of the drivers!!!!!!!!
Recent ALSA has driver for nForce sound: intel-8x0 for nForce2,3 and intel-hda for nForce4 (no hardware mixing in nForce2 however it can do this). You have to confirm names of modules because I never used them so could wrongly name them. On nForce2 APU I use OSS nForce driver to have hardware mixing, for nForce4 I had to put in Audigy2 card to have hardware mixing.
For usb the driver is built in in every kernel: select OHCI to enable it.
nVidia won't open drivers. This is not big obstacle IF manfacturer keep updating them as soon as kernel changes. However Nforce driver 1.0-310 used to kernel panic on my Abit NF7-S 2.0 mainboard and kernels equal or greater to 2.6.14. Missing ALSA support is also serious and OpenAL library is 1.0 -very old. People still wait for update. If the driver would be open someone could fix it.
As for ATI I know about their simple driver. I used first releases for my Radeon 9000 when I had one (It took some time when ATI linux driver began to support Radeon 9000). But in comparison to nVidia they are very limited yet: no XvMC and XAA hardware acceleration, limited colour depths. When ATI pushes new driver for download I read changelog to learn how far the progress is made. I could not find any impressive improvment yet, they only add support for new models faster than before and make little steps (which is good sign for linux community). If ATI implement XvMC acceleration I will start looking at it more. ATI earlier made DVD HW acceleration (since ATI 128 chip - before radeon appeared), but never provided acceleration support in driver for linux so you have DVD acceleration but can not use it because ATI driver do not support it. Nvidia provided DVD HW acceleration later (with geforce4 mx) together with driver support so you can use it with linux.
ATI is good if need only basic features of card. If you look for more advanced things like DVD HW acceleration nVidia is better.