the experience with nVidia/ATI graphics cards deppends on types you worked with very much. I have good experience with nVidia (GeForce 2 MX 400, GeForce 5 FX 5500) as same as with ATI (Radeon X2300).
The reason you were not able to make working your card with new 2.6.27 kernel should be related to .run file. I never used this, but I quickly looked in to nVidia pages, and it seems the .run file probably contains any universal driver, that is not distribution and kernel related. Instead of this, SuSE packages contains drivers compiled according to SuSE kernel that should have some differences to others. It is because the kernel does not deppends only to source codes, but also to options set during compilation (like enabled processor features, modules compiled directly in to kernel, …)
If you have some time to play you can try to uninstall driver from .run file and try to install it from package and tell us if it helped.
ATI cards are great hardware-wise, but they have very sucky drivers which in the end makes them usesless if you can’t get the drivers to run properly… I also use a Radeon (older AGP model 9200SE) on an older PC and luckily I don’t really need the ATI/AMD drivers as acceleration for it is included in the X driver already. All my other PCs though use NV cards
I’m having issues with an ATI 3450 and OpenSuSE 11.1. All the drivers see to work fine with OpenSuSE 11.0. The manufacture is Sapphire and I’ve had other issues with Sapphire ATI chipsets and Linux. I use another 9600 series ATI card in a P4 which is hated by almost every Linux distro with the exception of openSuSE and Slackware, though it works with Solaris, and BSD. I don’t know why. I use a Radeon AIW in one of my kids systems and everything seems to work with it. It’s an actual ATI card.
I have Nvidia 7600 and 8200 cards in computers. I’d say they work 60/40 with Linux distros. I’ve had issues with both and different flavours of Windows. Both the above work fine with OpenSuSE 10.0 through to 11.0. OpenSuSE 11.1 wasn’t happy with the 7600 depending on who manufactured the card. I’ve found MSI cards worked over ASUS cards. I’ve had good luck with XFX cards where others have had negative experiences.
I’ve found that frequently I had go into the xorg.conf file and change the card reference to “VESA” to get around a failed install of Nvidia and ATI drivers. Failures to install ATI drivers seem more dramatic and I’d say that Nvidia is more Linux friendly… IMHO. I find that ATI Hybrid Crossfire works with Linux where the ATI driver supports it.
Of course you have watch heat issues with Nvidia cards and check the chipset references on your card against the lists of which cards might have manufacturing issues where you can get an authorized and confirmed list.