Tux The Penguin 

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The concept of the Linux mascot being a penguin came from Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Tux was created by Larry Ewing in 1996 after an initial suggestion made by Alan Cox [1] and further refined by Linus Torvalds on the Linux kernel mailing list [2]. The first person to call the penguin "Tux" was James Hughes who said that it stood for "(T)orvalds (U)ni(X)"[sic].

Tux was designed for a Linux logo contest. Confusingly, there were actually three separate contests and Tux didn't win any of them. This is why Tux is formally known as the Linux mascot and not the logo. Pictures of some of the other contestants can be found here. Tux was created by Larry Ewing using GIMP (a free software graphics package) and was released by him under the following condition:

Permission to use and/or modify this image is granted provided you acknowledge me lewing@isc.tamu.edu and The GIMP if someone asks. [3]

According to Jeff Ayers, Linus Torvalds had a "fixation for flightless, fat waterfowl" and Torvalds claims to have contracted "penguinitis" after being gently nibbled by a penguin: "Penguinitis makes you stay awake at nights just thinking about penguins and feeling great love towards them." Torvalds' supposed illness is of course a joke, but he really was bitten by a Little Penguin on a visit to Canberra, Australia [4]. Torvalds was looking for something fun and sympathetic to associate with Linux, and a slightly fat penguin sitting down after having had a great meal perfectly fit the bill.

Tux has become iconic for the Linux and free software community, with one British Linux user group adopting a live Black-Footed (Jackass) penguin at Bristol Zoo on the occasion of Linus Torvalds' birthday.

[edit] Appearance

An Adélie penguin
An Adélie penguin

Tux does not accurately portray any of the 19 species of penguin although the Adélie Penguin closely resembles it.

Tux, in the form of the PaX logo
Tux, in the form of the PaX logo
Tux with "Bob" Dobbs' hair and pipe, as the Slackware mascot
Tux with "Bob" Dobbs' hair and pipe, as the Slackware mascot

He is often dressed or portrayed differently, depending on context; for example, when representing the PaX security algorithm, he wears a helmet and brandishes an axe and shield, and his eyes are red.

[edit] Uses

Tux is the star of many games, including Tux Racer, in which the user guides Tux down a variety of different icy hills on his belly, trying to catch herring and beat the time limit. Tux is also a character in the webcomic User Friendly.

In some Linux distributions, Tux greets the user during booting, with multi-processor systems displaying multiple tuxes.

TUX is also the name of Linux kernel-based web server.

[edit] Tux in Popular Culture

  • On the Madagascar DVD, the penguins provide their own commentary on their scenes. When Private is struggling to operate a computer, Skipper comments, "You told me you knew Linux, Private!"
  • In the webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del, the devout Linux user Scott has a pet penguin named Ted, an obvious reference to Tux.

[edit] Video games

Tux has taken on a role in the Linux community similar to that which Mario holds in the Nintendo community. As such, several video games, mostly free software/open source and/or for Linux, have starred Tux, including:

[edit] Gown

Crystal Tux
Crystal Tux

In some games that star Tux, a desire for more gender neutrality has resulted in them allowing the players to play as either Tux or his female friend "Gown".[citation needed] Gown is variously depicted as being a pink version of Tux (eg XTux) or as having a somewhat less fat appearance and wearing items of clothing such as a short skirt and a hair bow (eg TuxKart and Quest for Herring). In SuperTux, there is a different female penguin called 'Penny' who is purple and white.

[edit] Other uses

  • During the Q&A session following his COMDEX Fall 1999 keynote address, Linus Torvalds was asked if he had any idea how many stuffed penguins had been sent to Bill Gates. Torvalds' response was another question: "To the nearest thousand?"

[edit] References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Larry Ewing. Linux 2.0 Penguins. Retrieved on 2006-06-25.
  4. ^ "Tux" the Aussie Penguin. Linux Australia. Retrieved on 2006-06-25.

[edit] External links

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