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r300+ chipsets are being very quickly reverse engineered
Ummm. The 9700 (first R300 chipset) was released in late 2002. What exactly is your definition of "quickly"? I bought a Ti4200 in late 2002 and have had good accelerated drivers since I bought it. Yes, these are closed source drivers. If you must have open source drivers, don't buy either ATI or nvidia. Neither company actually supports open source drivers anymore. ATI used to, but that is in the past. I think Intel actually has the best record right now with open source video drivers (not sure where Matrox stands nowadays).