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Administrators can choose from a variety of options when determining the structure of their server architecture. This chapter compares architectural approaches to open source public workstations, exploring three distinct approaches and attempting to identify specific advantages and disadvantages of each. All of these approaches should be considered viable options for any library that can live with using an open source operating system--that is to say, any library that doesn't need to offer applications incompatible with the Linux or BSD environments. When evaluating the issue of application compatibility, it is important to consider the possibility of running some applications under Wine or the commercially supported equivalent, CrossOver Linux. Whether this is feasible depends on the specific applications to be run and the number of them. It is also possible to run Windows applications in a VMware virtual server. However, this approach generally requires purchase of a Windows license, which reduces the cost savings possible. The approach you choose will depend on the applications you want to run, the intended use of the workstations, and cost considerations. Decisions about server architecture affect system functionality and determine which features may be available, so it is extremely important to be fully informed before making a choice.
Note: Userful's products are included in the comparison in table 2 because they are based on Linux and other free, open source software and because the applications on a Userful workstation are free and open source. Userful includes proprietary management tools with its products, while the other solutions can be implemented wholly with open source software. Open Sense Solutions makes all of the software used in its custom solutions available as open source. Support services from Canonical, Open Sense Solutions, and Userful that are mentioned below are not free.
This approach involves loading a Linux distribution like Ubuntu on each workstation. General support services are available from Canonical and other vendors. Custom Linux distributions, updating services, support, and session and print job management are available from Open Sense Solutions and Userful. …