Linux: there's money to be made

As the adoption of Linux undergoes exponential growth, a Sydney-based company believes it can cash-in on the operating system, despite the fact that its source code is distributed freely over the Internet.

Anthony Rumble, a Linux-devotee who has been using the operating system since its first release in 1992, has launched EverythingLinux.com.au - a one-stop e-commerce shop for users of the OS. The online store which takes orders and credit card payments in a secure environment, sells a variety of products - from a soft toy version of the Linux icon, Tux the penguin, to books, Linux CD-ROMs and pre-paid support.

But you thought Linux was free?

"It's free in the sense of free speech, not free in the sense of free beer," explained Rumble, "Yes the software itself is free, but things like books, distribution and support are not."

"Essentially we're selling the distribution - CD-ROMs. Sure you can go download Linux from the Net, but 600MB worth - it's going to take a long time and if you're being charged by bandwidth, it's going to cost you a fortune."

EverythingLinux.com.au is also selling technical support - something which doesn't necessarily come with versions of Linux available on the Net. "The biggest complaint we hear about free software from enterprise clients is the lack of commercial grade support, particularly locally," said Rumble.

The company is selling pre-paid telephone support catering for both corporates using Linux in the server area and hobbyists using the OS on the desktop. Pricing starts at $60 for one hour.

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