Tux: A brief history of the Linux mascot

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Ever wonderment wherever Tux the penguin came from? Jack Wallen offers up a spot of a past lesson.


Illustration: Lisa Hornung/TechRepublic

Way backmost successful 2008, I had my limb inked with the Linux mascot (check retired the assemblage of that event). Of course, erstwhile I look backmost astatine that gallery, my archetypal thought is, "I'm truthful young!" That was 13 years agone and (fortunately) Father Time has been reasonably benignant to me.

Getting that tattoo was important to maine due to the fact that it served arsenic a imperishable reminder arsenic to however Linux profoundly changed my beingness (read: My beingness with Linux: A retrospective). It's besides been a mode for different Linux fans to prime maine retired of a crowd. I cannot archer you however galore times I've been successful nationalist to perceive idiosyncratic called out, "Tux!"

That's right, the penguin has a name, and it's Tux. 

SEE: 5 Linux server distributions you should beryllium using (TechRepublic Premium)

But wherefore would an operating strategy opt to usage a cartoon penguin arsenic a mascot? Let's instrumentality a look astatine the past of this adorable small feline and uncover why.

Back successful 1996, respective members of the Linux kernel mailing database were chatting astir a suitable logo and mascot for the caller operating system. At the time, galore of the suggestions were thing much than parodies of different operating system's logos. Other suggestions that were bandied astir were of much ferocious beasts, specified arsenic sharks and eagles. 

It wasn't until Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux) mentioned that helium was fond of penguins. That notation beauteous overmuch ended the statement and a penguin would go the mascot of Linux.

Once the determination was made, Linus chimed successful again, stating helium was an "expert connected penguins" (because ... who isn't?) Torvalds made it wide determination were lone 2 types of penguins: randy penguins and those that are stuffed with herring. Clearly, Linus didn't privation to spell the randy route, truthful stuffed it would be. His archetypal thought was a somewhat overweight penguin that is seated aft having gorged itself and burped.

SEE: Linus Torvalds' top hits: A retrospective of the Linux kernel founder's interaction connected exertion (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Torvalds wanted to steer wide of the "macho penguin" image. This led the designers to make the cute, cuddly penguin we each cognize and love.


The penguin each Linux idiosyncratic knows and loves.

There's different rumored communicative astir wherefore the penguin was chosen. The rumor goes a small thing similar this: At immoderate point, Linus was assaulted by a huge, rabid man-eating penguin that was moving astatine much than 100 miles per hr during the attack. Obviously, this communicative isn't true, but it's inactive 1 that is told among the Linux community. 

A penguin by immoderate different sanction …

Now that we've established wherefore the penguin was chosen to correspond Linux, however did the sanction travel about? Again, it's each astir lore. But similar the prime of the penguin, this is good known among those who person been astir Linux for decades. 

When it came to naming the mascot, Torvalds was unavailable, truthful the developers launched a contention to sanction the penguin portion Linus wasn't around. The archetypal sanction to summation immoderate popularity was "Home," since the caller mascot (designed by Larry Ewing) held a singular resemblance to Homer Simpson. It wasn't until James Hughes suggested Tux (which stands for Torvalds UniX) that the Linux mascot had a name.

And, arsenic they say, the remainder is history. You mightiness deliberation a cartoon penguin has nary spot successful concern IT, but Linux has been astir for decades to beryllium that sentiment wrong. 

Happy 30th day Linux. Here's to 30 much unthinkable years with you.

For much connected Linux's 30th anniversary, cheque retired these articles by Jack Wallen:

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