Thanks to recent commits in the RandR 1.2 branch for the open-source X.Org Radeon driver, it's now possible to use S-Video and composite TV output on your ATI graphics card without any patches. This is not limited to the R200 series but will also work with the R300 series and theoretically any graphics card supported by the xf86-video-ati driver. In this guide have outlined the instructions for enabling TV output support from the Radeon driver git code as well as some of the current limitations.
The commits in the RandR 1.2 branch earlier this month by Alex Deucher brought in initial TV-Out support (as a result of GATOS relicensing its code). However, some of the initial limitations include only 800 x 600 resolution supported, composite and S-Video support with no component support, and no TV-Out detection support. Below are the basic steps needed to checkout the xf86-video-ati driver from the randr-1.2 branch and then to build and install the driver. X server 1.3 is also needed with the standard X development libraries.
git checkout origin/randr-1.2
You may also need to build xrandr from git.
As the Radeon code at the time of publishing this guide doesn't allow for TV-out detection, you need to force it manually. Likewise, 800 x 600 is the only resolution currently supported.
xrandr --addmode S-video 800x600
xrandr --output S-video --mode 800x600
If all went well you should have TV out support working. It's that easy!
For our purposes we had used a Lenovo ThinkPad R52 notebook with a Mobility Radeon X300 64MB graphics card using the S-Video out. The Linux distribution used was Fedora 7 with X server 1.3 and the Linux 184.108.40.206 kernel.
This TV-Out support with the open-source Radeon driver is very preliminary but it is terrific to see that progress is being made and even for the R300 series. When additional progress is made with the driver we will be sure to pass along additional information. You can subscribe to our RSS feed and be sure to stop by the Phoronix Forums if you run into any technical problems or have questions on TV-Out for the xf86-video-ati driver.