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Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing

Tux is the official mascot of the Linux kernel. 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 flavors showing Tux in one way or another. He is also used in many Linux games, 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.


[edit] Origins

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] Linus took his inspiration from a photograph[3] he found on an FTP site,[4] 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)".[5] 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.[6] Pictures of some of the other contestants can be found here. Tux was created[7] by Larry Ewing using the first publicly released[8] 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. [9]
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 of course a joke, but he really was bitten by a Little Penguin on a visit to the National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra, Australia [10]. 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.

In an interview Linus commented on the penguin bite.[11]

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.

[edit] Uses

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).[12]

[edit] Video games

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:

[edit] Female Tux versions in Video Games

In some games that star Tux, a desire for more gender neutrality has resulted in allowing the players to play as either Tux or his female 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); she is somewhat inspired by Daisy Duck. 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"). Tux's relationship with Penny is comparable to Mario's relationship with Princess Peach as seen in Super Mario Bros. 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".

[edit] Tux in popular culture

Tux, in front of the EBU during a seminar on open source for broadcasters
  • In the Web RPG DragonFable, the penguin pet is named Linus, referring to Linus Torvalds himself; he also refuses to use Windows ( as stated in-game: "but he refuses to do Windows").
  • In the gaming-related webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del, a pet penguin called Ted is owned by Scott, a Linux user.
  • The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, anamorphic penguin mascot's name is Tux.[2]
  • In the show Out of Jimmy's Head, a wisecracking, comedian penguin who often tells bad puns and jokes is called Tux.
  • Tux to The Rescue - In January 2009 a 24 inches (60 cm) bronze penguin was stolen from atop its rock in Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City. It turns out that the stolen penguin, Wink, was a cousin of Tux and Tux has taken a lead in seeking Wink's return. Join the rescue effort.

[edit] Other uses

A Tux tattoo.
  • 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[14] have noticed that Tux bears a striking resemblance with a cake template on the front cover of the Australian Womans Weekly "Party Animals" [3], 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[15].
  • 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 |                                   
       |:_/ |                                   
      //   \ \                                  
     (|     | )                                 
    /'\_   _/`\                                 

[edit] Tuz

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 [16] to support the effort to save the Tasmanian devil species from extinction[17] due to the Devil facial tumour disease.

The image was designed by Andrew McGown and modified by Josh Bush[18], and released under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA.

[edit] Media

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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