I wanted to upgrade my ancient Dell Latitude C800 from Fedora Core 4 to something newer. So, I decided to try Fedora 8. During the install the video was garbled so I did a text install. After everything installed, I tried to get X running. I didn't have a lot of success. Everything was weird and still garbled. The install itself detected the ATI card so I continued to work with the ATI driver.
It was late and I still wasn't having any success so I decided to try out Ubuntu 6.x (I happend to have the CD handy). This didn't work either, giving me basically the same problem as the Fedora 8 install. So, I decided to call it a night.
In the morning, in an attempt to get something to work, I tried out the VESA driver. I discovered that this worked fine. I was even able to configure things so that I would be able to display at 1450x1050.
So, my conclusion is that the newer Xorg ATI drivers don't work very well with my ancient hardware, but the VESA drivers work fine. We're not talking about high-performance hardware here, so this is good enough for me.