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Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing

Tux is a penguin character, the official mascot of the Linux kernel.[1] Originally created as an entry to a Linux logo competition, the image of the mascot is the most commonly used icon for Linux, used in many flavorsTemplate:Which? showing Tux in one way or another. He is also used in many Linux games and programs, such as Tux Racer, Extreme Tux Racer, Tux Math, Super Tux Kart, and Tux Paint, which are usually look-alikes from other mainstream games.

On this theme, Tux also has various other characters that are similar, such as Penny, or Gown, other penguin characters that are only associated with Tux's representation in games.



The story behind Tux, Canberra Zoo.

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 [2] and further refined by Linus Torvalds on the Linux kernel mailing list.[3] Linus took his inspiration from a photograph[4] he found on an FTP site,[5] showing a penguin figurine looking strangely like the Creature Comforts characters made by Nick Park. The first person to call the penguin "Tux" was James Hughes, who said that it stood for "(T)orvalds (U)ni(X)".[6] However, many people observe that Tux is also an abbreviation of tuxedo, the outfit which springs to mind when they see a penguin.

Tux was originally designed as a submission for a Linux logo contest. Three such competitions took place; Tux won none of them. This is why Tux is formally known as the Linux mascot and not the logo.[7] Tux was created[8] by Larry Ewing using the first publicly released[9] version (0.54) of GIMP, a free software graphics package. It 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.[10]
File:Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor) -Adelaide Zoo.jpg
A Little Penguin, also known as the Fairy Penguin in Australia and the Blue Penguin in New Zealand, inspired Torvalds to suggest using a penguin as the Linux mascot.

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 a joke, but he really was bitten by a Little Penguin on a visit to the National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra, Australia.[11] 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.[12]

In an interview Linus commented on the penguin bite:
Linus: I've been to Australia several times, these days mostly for Linux.Conf.Au. But my first trip - and the one when I was bitten by a ferocious Fairy Penguin: you really should keep those things locked up! - was in 93 or so, talking about Linux for the Australian Unix Users Group.[13]


In some Linux distributions, Tux greets the user during booting, with multi-processor systems displaying multiple Tux characters. Tux is a character in the webcomic User Friendly. TUX is the name of a Linux-based web server. In 1999, Corel Linux Deluxe included a free Linux Penguin (Tux).[14]

Video games

File:SuperTux-Milestone1 9.png
Tux as the player character protagonist of SuperTux

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

Female Tux versions in video games

Some games that star Tux also include explicitly female penguin characters, allowing the players to play as one of those characters instead of Tux. One such female penguin is Tux friend "Gown". Gown is variously depicted as being a pink version of Tux (XTux) or as having a somewhat less fat appearance and wearing items of clothing such as a red and white short skirt and a hair bow (eg TuxKart and A Quest for Herring). In SuperTux and SuperTuxKart, there is a different female penguin called "Penny" who is purple and white (SuperTuxKart once had Gown and still has a map called "Gown's Bow"). In the upcoming Tux 2 there is supposed to be a female penguin called "Trixi", and in FreeCiv the female leader name for the Antarctican civilization is "Tuxette".

Tux in popular culture

Other uses

File:Womens Weekly Tux cover.jpg
Tux on the cover of Australian Women's Weekly cookbook Party Animals
  • Tux had an uncredited use in the Al Gore's Penguin Army video.
  • 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?"
  • Tux has been adapted to a designer toy called a Gwin and is distributed by October Toys. It is redesigned by different artists and sold in short collectable runs through the October Toys website and other collectable vinyl toy sites. There are also artists who buy a blank Gwin to hand paint and customize as a one-off art piece.
  • Several bloggers[16] have noted that Tux bears a striking resemblance with a cake template on the front cover of the Australian Womans Weekly "Party Animals" [1], a cake recipe book published by ACP Magazines. The design is titled "The Penguin Prince" and no credit is given. ACP later acknowledged the similarity and added they lost track of the original template designer[17].
  • It's possible to make Tux talk using the cowsay command in Unix by adding the option -f tux to it. In the following example the text in the cowsay is piped from the fortune command:
baldur@baldur-desktop:~$ fortune | cowsay -f tux
/ You are scrupulously honest, frank, and \     
| straightforward. Therefore you have few |     
\ friends.                                /     
       |o_o |                                   
       |:_/ |                                   
      //   \ \                                  
     (|     | )                                 
    /'\_   _/`\                                 


Tuz, the Tasmanian devil

Tuz was the mascot of the 2009 linux.conf.au conference. It has been chosen by Linus Torvalds as the logo for version 2.6.29 of the Linux kernel [18] to support the effort to save the Tasmanian devil species from extinction[19] due to the Devil facial tumour disease.

The image was designed by Andrew McGown and modified by Josh Bush,[20] and released under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA.



External links

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