Item Circulation Software, Linux
Our staff use a PC running a client at each branch library while our patron records and item data are kept on a centralized server operated by the Valley Library Consortium. This is part of the reason why the system is sometimes slow to process check-in/check-out and fast-adds; we currently have 256k connections.
This summer, we're hoping to address the speed issue by upgrading our Internet connections to full T1s at all branch locations while VLC is going to upgrade their server hardware and up their bandwidth.
On a Linux-related note:
Currently, we are using Linux as the operating system for our content filtering and caching and our item catalog computers. Due to the requirements set by our Gates grant, we currently have no plans to migrate any of our patron computers to Linux. However, we do plan to use "hacked" wireless routers running Linux for our public wireless service.
Should we build our own computer lab, one of my requirements will be to install a Linux distribution (very likely Ubuntu Desktop) on custom-built boxes. Using virtual machine software like VMWare or Parallels, any other operating system environment (Vista, XP, Mandriva, or even legacy os') can be installed and run on top of Linux.
This would allow a great deal of flexibility for hosting a variety of applications with little or no downtime. One class could reserve the lab for Novell Netware, while later that same day, another class could learn how to use Adobe Photoshop or the Gimp on Windows XP.
I personally use Xubuntu 7.0.4 on my personal IBM ThinkPad T41p, and it handles all my day-to-day needs. In my opinion, open hardware and software (where source code and specifications are freely available to anyone) standards will become even more widespread and mainstream in the future.
Proprietary platforms will still have their place in the market, but will either work with open standards or have some open equivalent that will do as good or better.