From my own research, difficulty appears to vary by card manufacturer, linux distro, and specific task. If you pick the right distro, support is decent. If you pick the wrong distro, you spend many hours wandering the internet safari. I can sympathize with Google's position.
In the briefest terms, AMD/ATI = Hard Mode, or so it appears.
Most recently, it took me a significant part of a weekend to setup a GPU-based Dogecoin miner on Debian, using ATI cards. The first and most painful lesson was learning that Debian Squeeze was a non-starter, which wasn't immediately obvious as several seemingly outdated guides exist, referring to experimental apt packages that no longer exist. Upgrading to Wheezy, I only managed to get a single card working, though a second identical card was plugged into the motherboard and known to be good. Lamenting my half-solved problem, a coworker directed me to a hardware hack (resistors stuck into a DVI/VGA converter) so that the second GPU would be fooled into thinking a monitor was present, so it would be recognized by the mining software. Apparently, this is a hardware hack needed to run Apple desktops in headless mode.
Supposedly, these things are "easier" on NVidia-based setups, or at least have a larger community to assist, but there are still some gotchas. I wouldn't blame Google for feeling that things need to be improved before offering official support. With any luck at all, Steambox will push card manufacturers to create better drivers for at least one distro, even if it's only Steambox. The Count tells me that One is greater than Zero, Ah, Ah, Ah.