Originally published: 2010-05-27
I'm not going to beat around the bush here: these chipsets ought to be an embarrassment to Intel. As noted several times, there is no open-source 3D support for these chipsets, and there is no documentation for them, either. In short, if you buy a netbook with a GMA 500 or 600 chipset, it will probably break with the next release of whatever distribution you run. Want to run a different kernel for whatever reason? You're probably SOL there, too.
It used to be the case that all-Intel hardware meant the machine would run Linux very well. Not so anymore. This is a betrayal by Intel. I do what I can to avoid buying Intel hardware these days, but it's hard to do in the notebook market. To my knowledge, no vendor sells an AMD-based notebook without Windows. I really wish I could get an AMD-based equivalent of System76's Lemur notebook, for example. As it stands, if I want a notebook, I have to choose between giving money to Intel or giving money to Microsoft. So, I will almost certainly buy Intel hardware when I purchase my next laptop. I will, however, tell everyone interested in a netbook to stay far away from any netbook whose GMA chipset has a three-digit number. I may even advise them to purchase a netbook with NVIDIA's Ion chipset. At least NVIDIA does a reasonable job of keeping their closed-source driver up to date.
Update: I ended up buying an Asus EeePC 1201T. AMD CPU, AMD GPU, and no Windows! Sadly, it appears that it is no longer available without Windows. The WiFi chipset is also...lacking, at least from a driver perspective. Still, I am rather pleased with it.