"It's often been said that these days we are living in are the
epitome of "the virtual": everything is digital, intangible; in a
word, "virtualized". The rise of the so-called "Linux Service
Companies" are maybe one of the best examples of this trend:
business companies which do not provide neither tangible goods,
such as cars, nor less tangible but nevertheless "branded" goods,
such as software. Instead, what they sell are services, and this
article tries to give a brief overview of what the heck that means,
and if this could be the answer to the everlasting question "How
can you make money with software you can get for free?"
"Freedom of speech would allow me to talk about Linux Service
Companies (LSC from now onwards, to follow our glorious tradition
of geekdom and acronymitis) even if I didn't know anything about
them. The fact is, I actually worked for one of them: Linuxcare
Italia S.p.a., the Italian subsidiary of Linuxcare, Inc. Linuxcare
Italia was closed together with all European operations something
like a month ago- and I'm writing this to clarify my position- but
the time I spent with them has taught me something about what an
LSC actually is and does."
"A "service" is just what the name itself says. From
Webster's dictionary, a service is "a useful labor that does not
produce a tangible commodity". So, an LSC can be thought as a
business that, instead of pushing "products" on the market, listens
to customers' needs and reacts accordingly, "producing a useful
labor" which satisfies the counterpart's requests. We'll see
that the distinction between "products" and "services" is sometimes
quite blurred, especially from a marketing point of view; but it is
nonetheless a useful difference to start with."
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