The Unified Linux Driver--available for download from ATI--is a collection of "drivers," software that tells a computer's operating system how to interact with hardware components.
A scarcity of ready-made drivers has been one of the most significant factors against adoption of the open-source Linux operating system for desktop PCs. Serious Linux hobbyists will write their own drivers for PC components and swap homemade drivers with other Linux boosters.
The new ATI driver collection supports all recent versions of ATI-manufactured graphics boards, from the Radeon 8500 to the company's current speed demon, the. The drivers enable support for version 2.0 of the OpenGL graphics specification used in many computer games and other graphics-rich applications.
"By releasing their Linux driver, ATI is delivering superior graphics performance to all market segments, acknowledging that Linux is rapidly becoming a real and viable choice for the desktop," Michael Robertson, CEO of Linux software publisher Lindows.com, said in a statement.
ATI, once the leader in the crowded graphics chip industry, has played second fiddle toin recent years, amid drastic consolidation in the industry. ATI's prospects brightened this year, however, with the of new graphics chips that dramatically outperformed competing Nvidia products.