Tux: A brief history of the Linux mascot

Ever surprise the place Tux the penguin got here from? Jack Wallen provides up a little bit of a historical past lesson.


Illustration: Lisa Hornung/TechRepublic

Manner again in 2008, I had my arm inked with the Linux mascot (try the gallery of that occasion). In fact, once I look again at that gallery, my first thought is, “I am so younger!” That was 13 years in the past and (happily) Father Time has been pretty sort to me.

Getting that tattoo was necessary to me as a result of it served as a everlasting reminder as to how Linux profoundly modified my life (learn: My life with Linux: A retrospective). It is also been a method for different Linux followers to select me out of a crowd. I can’t inform you what number of occasions I have been in public to listen to somebody referred to as out, “Tux!”

That is proper, the penguin has a reputation, and it is Tux. 

SEE: 5 Linux server distributions you need to be utilizing (TechRepublic Premium)

However why would an working system decide to make use of a cartoon penguin as a mascot? Let’s check out the historical past of this cute little man and uncover why.

Again in 1996, a number of members of the Linux kernel mailing checklist have been chatting a few appropriate emblem and mascot for the brand new working system. On the time, most of the strategies have been nothing greater than parodies of different working system’s logos. Different strategies that have been bandied about have been of extra ferocious beasts, resembling sharks and eagles. 

It wasn’t till Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux) talked about that he was keen on penguins. That point out just about ended the talk and a penguin would turn out to be the mascot of Linux.

As soon as the choice was made, Linus chimed in once more, stating he was an “professional on penguins” (as a result of … who is not?) Torvalds made it clear there have been solely two kinds of penguins: randy penguins and people which can be full of herring. Clearly, Linus did not wish to go the randy route, so stuffed it could be. His unique thought was a barely obese penguin that’s seated after having gorged itself and burped.

SEE: Linus Torvalds’ best hits: A retrospective of the Linux kernel founder’s impression on expertise (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Torvalds needed to avoid the “macho penguin” picture. This led the designers to create the lovable, cuddly penguin everyone knows and love.


The penguin each Linux consumer is aware of and loves.

There’s one other rumored story about why the penguin was chosen. The rumor goes just a little one thing like this: In some unspecified time in the future, Linus was assaulted by an enormous, rabid man-eating penguin that was shifting at greater than 100 miles per hour throughout the assault. Clearly, this story is not true, nevertheless it’s nonetheless one that’s instructed among the many Linux group. 

A penguin by every other identify …

Now that we have established why the penguin was chosen to characterize Linux, how did the identify come about? Once more, it is all about lore. However like the selection of the penguin, that is well-known amongst those that have been round Linux for many years. 

When it got here to naming the mascot, Torvalds was unavailable, so the builders launched a contest to call the penguin whereas Linus wasn’t round. The primary identify to achieve any reputation was “Dwelling,” because the new mascot (designed by Larry Ewing) held a exceptional resemblance to Homer Simpson. It wasn’t till James Hughes instructed Tux (which stands for Torvalds UniX) that the Linux mascot had a reputation.

And, as they are saying, the remaining is historical past. You may suppose a cartoon penguin has no place in enterprise IT, however Linux has been round for many years to show that sentiment improper. 

Joyful thirtieth birthday Linux. This is to 30 extra unimaginable years with you.

For extra on Linux’s thirtieth anniversary, try these articles by Jack Wallen:

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