Right now, there's a lone audio cable running from my A8N-SLI Deluxe's onboard audio to the auxillary input jack on my speakers, and that cable makes me sad. It's there because there aren't any drivers for my X-Fi card for Linux. I'm not playing games or doing any audio editing in Linux, so having good sound isn't critical, but listening to music through the noisy onboard audio really sucks.
So, what's Creative's story? The last mention of X-Fi support on Linux was a post from May 18, 2006 . It says " Creative plans to make proprietary (closed source) drivers available for the X-Fi series of sound cards in the second quarter of 2007. These drivers will have full support for ALSA (playback, recording, mixer, MIDI, synthesis) and OpenAL 1.1 (with EAX effects). " We're about to enter the second quarter, but we've heard nothing from anyone at Creative for 10 months.
It's safe to describe a standalone soundcard as a luxury item these days, virtually every montherboard you can buy includes good onboard sound, especially for people who don't play games. The only reason anyone needs a standalone soundcard is if they play games or if they want the cleaner, less noisy audio that you get when you move the DACs and sound hardware up off the motherboard. When I buy a luxury item, I expect it to provide better functionality than the commodity hardware I already have, everywhere I need it to. My standalone soundcard, which I paid for, should be demonstrably better than the onboard codecs that came soldered to my motherboard for free--whether I'm running Windows or Linux.
The X-Fi has been on the market for almost 18 months now. I'm not asking for support for 3D sound or a fancy control panel. All I want is the ability to play MP3s and watch video using my X-Fi card. It's time for at least a beta release, Creative.