Re: Why do proprietary drivers even exist?
Some hardware manufacturers have trade secrets to protect in the newest generation of microprocessor chips. Whereas my "Hot Rod gPC™," an Advanced Micro Devices®-equipped custom-build shoehorned into an Everex® TC2502 case, is fully FOSS-supported (xserver-xorg-video-radeon is fully functional on the integrated ATi® R600 GPU in the AMD® 780G/SB710 chipset), that's not the case with the brand-new AMD® Northern Islands GPU's in the Radeon® HD™ 7000 Series, which have massive hardware changes compared to the R6xx GPU's.
And some hardware manufacturers don't play at all nice with the open-source community; the LinUX Kernel Group had to reverse-engineer drivers for pre-2000 versions of Microsoft® Windows® NT™ for sufficient information on the registers of the nVIDIA® MCP-series chipsets in order to get said chipsets to work at all in LinUX, as I encountered during my all-too-delayed efforts to get an eMachines®/Acer® EL1210-09 (Advanced Micro Devices® Athlon 64® LE-1620, nVIDIA® MCP78S chipset; augmented with nVIDIA® GT218 in an Asus® EN210/DI/512MD3(LP) video adapter) ready for projector duty. And I still needed GeForce® Software Version 319 (ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates; nvidia-319, nvidia-settings-319) for dual-display operation, with xserver-xorg-video-nouveau unusable for either GPU (viz., no FOSS net).
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2HP / AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+
Audio: Creative Laboratoies SB0350/SB0250 (PCI)
Video: Diamond Radeon HD 5450 (PCIe x16)