I've been waiting … and waiting … for Debian to come to its senses and re-add the sound chip the ESS 1988 Allegro in my Gateway Solo 1450 back into the Lenny kernel.
I imagine there are a lot of ESS/Allegro chips out there. In Linux, as in OpenBSD and any number of other projects, a lot of really smart developers are very busy writing open drivers for the proprietary hardware we're stuck with. Sometimes they get cooperation from the manufacturers. Often times they reverse-engineer the whole damn thing. Still, there are a lot of “binary blobs” out there.