But a bit of schock as I'd never would have thought that this would have become a problem in the Linux world. Of course, the ATI driver isn't free so we're not in Kansas anymore...
Intel is the only one of the big three GPU makers that seems to have a true interest in producing high-quality open source GPU drivers. NVIDIA produces fast drivers, but the drivers aren't terribly good in terms of doing things "the right way" and they're definitely not open source. ATI releases specs and pays people to work on open source drivers, but they don't really seem to have the same commitment that Intel does.
In my experience the radeon driver is generally usable, but not terribly fast (and the power management tends to... uh... well it sucks.)
Need help with Linux or FreeBSD? Catch me on IRC: I'm ThinkRob on FreeNode and EFnet.
Current laptop: X200s/X201 hybrid
Current workstation: none