Previously, I had thought that wasn't much of a problem: who needs 3D anyway, right? I had the high resolution I wanted, and that should be enough. Except, it turns out I do want the 3D acceleration.
I've been working on a site for klik's photography projects, and one of the effects is a layer that blanks out the screen when a large photo is displayed in a layer. The transparency effect took a lot of time, while it was pretty snappy on WinXP. I booted into a stock kernel, installed the restricted driver, and lo and behold: the effect was executed much, much more snappy.
Also, Google Earth, which I like and want to run semi-regularly, needs a 3D accelerated video card.
Am I completely out of luck? I don't know. Right now I am compiling a kernel (again), according to this guide. This will also compile the restricted driver along with the kernel, so that they 'match'. Perhaps that will enable the driver I need.
If this doesn't work, I will have to re-evaluate if Ubuntu is the right distro for me. I want to upload waypoints to my GPS receiver, and I want the 3D acceleration. I want them both at the same time. If I have to boot into another kernel, I might as well switch back to WinXP -- both work in there.
The alternative is to switch to a source distribution like Gentoo, but I'm not quite sure if I want to go there.
All in all, this is taking much more time than I wanted.