And worst of all, there are no drivers for my favorite soundcard for newer versions of Windows or for Linux (at least not without paying).
What is your favorite soundcard? If you mean Aureal cards, they are supported by ALSA. Manuel Jander and Jeff Muizelaar reverse-engineered the closed source OSS driver and the Windows drivers, and produced hardware documentation as well as a ground-up ALSA re-implementation. Manuel even figured out the 3D side of things, but his questions asked on the OpenAL list regarding the development of an Aureal OpenAL driver revealed the true nature of "Open"AL:

Garin Hiebert (Creative engineer):

With OpenAL, the original idea was to include a variety of vendors who are not going to want to share all their core or extension code with one another to create a seamless experience across the hardware/software transition. For instance, Creative isn't going to share its EAX effect code to allow other vendors to adopt the feature at the same quality level. NVIDIA has their own capabilities and extensions that they aren't going to share with others as well...
Manuel Jander:
OK, that means that its not entirely a technical reason, rather more "political". Maybe one should do a fork to have a OpenAL variant backed only by technical argumentation.
Garin Hiebert:
Absolutely true. Creative would not have spent so much time on OpenAL if its purpose were to make our hardware irrelevant. Same with NVIDIA. Both companies want to enable APIs that help them sell hardware. Selling more Aureal boards on EBay doesn't serve either company's interest at all.
There you have it, the reason we don't today have hardware accelerated 3D audio for Aureal cards. Pretty lame in my opinion, but that's the way it is when you have monopolies in charge of the standards.

This stuff was posted on 8 Jan 2004 if you want to go back and read the thread.

Score:3, Informative