Intel has put a lot of money and effort behind its open-source video drivers for Linux, which is the main reason I went with the Intel X4500MHD video option on my new laptop, instead of the faster NVIDIA option. Going with a 100% open source solution gives two main benefits: everything works perfectly out-of-the-box, and you get features like monitor hotplugging that have set to be implemented in the closed drivers from NVIDIA or AMD.
There’s just one drawback — the Intel drivers, and the Linux video stack in general, are going through some major updates right now, which results in some odd bugs. OpenGL-accelerated desktop effects seem to work perfectly, but some windowed OpenGL apps glitch parts of the display outside of their windows, and there are also some GLSL and depth-buffer bugs that cause visual issues with some apps, like the Penny Arcade Episodes.
That work is still ongoing, but with the latest alpha of Ubuntu 9.10, the results are starting to show. I installed it on to a spare partition on my laptop today and did some testing, and I’m glad to say that the above-mentioned bugs seem to have all-but-disappeared. Windowed OpenGL apps ran just fine, and the graphical corruption in Penny Arcaide Ep 1 has disappeared. The problem now is stability — X crashed a few times when launching OpenGL apps during my testing — but with any luck those bugs will be ironed out before the 9.10 release in October.