So who is the winner of this heated battle then? You are - the consumer. Whilst NVIDIA still came out on top, it did so with only the smallest of margins in most cases - and you can feel confident that owning a Radeon is no longer a blocker to a decent experience in Linux.
That said, there are (as always) some little things. Firstly, many people would rather not need to use a closed-source driver at all. Intel users get a decent out-of-the-box experience with full 3D on cards that aren't Poulsbo-based, and in theory ATI users do too - in practice I was greeted with a white screen when using the Free ATI driver on the Radeon HD 4870 (reverting to the basic VESA driver allowed me to log in).
Another minor nitpick is that whilst with the GeForce connected I can run the system's text consoles and bootup animation at 1920x1200, ATI doesn't support widescreen modes at boot. This could be an issue in the future with "Plymouth project" which plans to give a clean boot procedure in consistent high resolution, with no ugly mode changes - then again, Plymouth will probably never work with closed-source drivers anyway.
Despite the niggles, however, I think ATI has earnt plenty of praise for its progress - the company is certainly in a position to compete now, rather than being an also-ran. Which means for me, I can stop pushing friends and family towards NVIDIA in the vain hope that they might want to use Linux - knowing that ATI doesn't cripple them.
Let us know your thoughts in the HEXUS.community forums.