Also, would it make any difference if I switched to a different distro?
I am assuming your asking if you can run the proprietary ATI driver for your card on another distro?
If so, you can as long as it uses an older version of X and an older kernel.
You could downgrade the kernel and Xorg on vl and get the driver to work, but it would be a lot more work than getting an nvidia card or newer ATI card.
I have an ATI X1300 that works great, but nvidia supports just about all there old cards I even have a tnt2 card that works with the latest kernel and xorg.