Tux: the famous Linux mascot and the merchandising behind it

tux logo linux

Almost everyone knows the famous Linux Tux mascot, has become a very beloved symbol within the community. But far from its origins or what it represents, one of the lesser known phenomena is the money generated by this type of merchandising that many people from all over the world buy.

In this article you will be able to know everything you need to know about how the idea of ​​Tux originated, some curiosities that perhaps you did not know and many more things about the most commercial aspect of this animal and all its variants, which are many ...

Tux history

Larry Ewing, creator of Tux

Tux is the name of the penguin character that was created to officially become the Linux kernel brand. Originally there were more candidate designs, as a contest was created to choose the best one. But Tux was finally the most used by everyone and the one that has remained as official, although many GNU / Linux projects and distributions usually use modified versions of Tux or other totally different logos such as Red Hat's red hat, or SUSE's chameleon. ...

It all came for a drawing of a penguin that Linus Torvalds liked very much and that it would serve as inspiration for the ultimate Tux. Its creator is Larry Ewing, and dates back to 1996 when this penguin would be unveiled. Alan Cox, another of the legendary developers, also had a lot to do with the current image of Tux, since he made a suggestion in the LKML about what the image should be and Linus Torvalds liked it.

Penguin who inspired Tux

As you can see, this image was the one that Linus Torvalds found on an FTP server and he liked it so much. It looks like one of the characters in Creature Comforts created by Nick Park. So Larry would use it as the basis for his first sketches.

El original mail that was published in the LKML (Linux Kernel Mailing Lists) was the following:

Re: Linux Logo prototype.

Linus Torvalds (torvalds@cs.helsinki.fi)

Thu, 9 May 1996 17:48:56 +0300 (EET DST).

Somebody had a logo competition announcement, maybe people can send their ideas to a web-site.

. . Anyway, this one looks like the poor penguin is not really strong enough to hold up the world, and it's going to get squashed. Not a good, positive logo, in that respect.

. . Now, when you think about penguins, first take a deep calming breath, and then think “cuddly”. Take another breath, and think "cute." Go back to “cuddly” for a while (and go on breathing), then think “contented”.

. With me so far? Good.

. . Now, with penguins, (cuddly such), “contented” means it has either just gotten laid, or it's stuffed on herring. Take it from me, I'm an expert on penguins, those are really the only two options.

. Now, working on that angle, we don't really want to be associated with a randy penguin (well, we do, but it's not political, so we won't), so we should be looking at the “stuffed to its brim with herring ”angle here.

. So when you think “penguin”, you should be imagining a slighly overweight penguin (*), sitting down after having gorged itself, and having just burped. It's sitting there with a beatific smile - the world is a good place to be when you have just eaten a few gallons of raw fish and you can feel another “burp” coming.

. (*) Not FAT, but you should be able to see that it's sitting down because it's really too stuffed to stand up. Think "bean bag" here. . Now, if you have problems associating yourself with something that gets off by eating raw fish, think “chocolate” or something, but you get the idea.

. Ok, so we should be thinking of a lovable, cuddly, stuffed penguin sitting down after having gorged itself on her ring. Still with me?

. NOW comes the hard part. With this image firmly etched on your eyeballs, you then scetch a stylizied version of it. Not a lot of detail - just a black brush-type outline (you know the effect you get with a brush where the thickness of the line varies). THAT requires talent. Give people the outline, and they should say [sickly sweet voice, babytalk almost] "Ooh, what a cuddly penguin, I bet he is just stuffed with herring", and small children will jump up and down and scream "mommy mommy, can I have one too? ”.

. Then we can do a larger version with some more detail (maybe leaning against a globe of the world, but I don't think we really want to give any “macho penguin” image here about Atlas or anything). That more detailed version can spank billy-boy to tears for all I care, or play ice-hockey with the FreeBSD demon. But the simple, single penguin would be the logo, and the others would just be that cuddly penguin being used as an actor in some tableau.

. linus

In the beginning it had no name, but James Hughes was the one who decided to start calling him Tux, since it used the T of Torvalds, the U and X of Unix (Torvalds UniX), as well as being a word that exists in English as an abbreviation of TUXedo, and that corresponds to the typical dress suits (tuxedo) that we call "Penguin" colloquially because of its resemblance to these animals.

And by the way, for the creation of Tux, how could it be otherwise, a free software package was used such as the program GIMP. Specifically, version 0.54 of this software would be used.

Although Tux is a pet, a symbol, you can use it if you want and even modify it if you're interested. Its creator Larry only asked that you recognize his creation and not attribute it to yourself, being able to put you in contact with him through his email.

Finally, the why of a penguin and not another animal, that also has to do with Linus Torvalds. The creator of Linux had a great fixation for these animals. The Clumsy, waterfowl Torvalds liked very much. Looking for something fun, the idea of ​​a fat penguin sitting after a meal would be cute and would fit perfectly with Linux.


Tux variants

Even though the chosen symbol Tux is uniqueThroughout history, many variants of the classic penguin have been created. Some of them created by fans and that have been limited to varying the initial form, or include accessories to resemble fictional characters: Super Man, Batman, Robocop, Yoda, Son Goku, and a long etc., as you can see In the net.

But there was also other variants created by the Linux developers themselves for certain charitable purposes. This is the case of Tuz, a variant created as a brand to support facial tumor problems that were affecting the famous Tasmanian devils in danger of extinction. It was basically a normal Tasmanian devil with a false beak on, simulating the penguin. It was the pet of kernel version 2.6.29, although you no longer remember.

East Tuz was a proposal created by Andrew McGrown, using Inskcape SVG. The result was released as a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA design.

But just like Tuz, there was another controversial symbol based on Tux which was that of «Linux for Workgroups"Released in 2013. It was for kernel 3.11-rc1, when Linus Torvalds released this Release Candiate and decided to name the code from" Uncycling Gorilla "to" Linux for Workgorups ". This allusion to Microsoft Windows Workgroups 3.11 (1993) caused Tux to be modified by holding a flag with the famous Redmond company logo of this system.

And, of course, many free software or open source projects, especially the ones from distros, have created their own variants. One of the most famous are those of Slackware with the famous smoking pipe, or Andatux de Guadalinex, with a plumper and more childlike appearance, that of Crystal, that of TuxGuitar, that of PaX, ...

There is a Tux for every taste!


LInux Tux Monument

Tux has always been involved in controversy and curiosities since its inception. In addition, being the best-known mascot in the open-source world, it has also made its legend grow to unsuspected limits. For example:

  • One of the main curiosities that you should know is that in those contests to find a mascot or logo for the Linux kernel, the logo of Larry Ewing didn't win in none of the three editions that were held. But it was finally used as a logo ... Funny!
  • Another curiosity that you should know is Jeff ayers He went on to assure that Linus Torvalds had such a fixation for penguins that he was bitten by a baby and had contracted «penguinitis"(Something that is not real, but it was nice to justify the obsession with these animals). The legends surrounding the open source hero grew and his mascot ended up being almost inseparable. Such was Linus's attraction to penguins that he has visited the Canberra National Zoo and Aquarium in Australia several times. Jeff claimed that fictional disease toward "being awake at night just thinking about penguins and feeling great love for them«. What does seem to be true is that one of them bit him on the hand ...
  • Tux has a monument, or rather, Linux has it. It is located in the Russian city of Tyumen. This monument, due to the popularity of the system, has already received numerous visits from all over the world, despite the fact that it is only a small monument inspired by Tux.
  • The cute bird that Tux was inspired by is really a pygmy booby bird, a species of penguin known as the fairy or blue and that lives in New Zealand.
  • Larry Ewing used a computer 486 DX2 / 50 to work with GIMP in creating Tux. It didn't have Linux running on it, but it did use GIMP 0.54. However, the final work was done on an SGI Crismon workstation.
  • Larry's original design was in black and white. After several attempts the colorful version would come ...

Tux initial history

  • Tux is not the logo, is the pet. Linux has other logos, and it had them before the arrival of Tux. Like the logo for Linux 2.0 created by Matt Ericson that failed to replace the mythical mascot. And I think that everyone already identifies Linux with Tux, no matter how many other logos there may be ...
  • La smaller image of Tux mascot is only 130 microns. And it is in an integrated circuit of unknown function. It can be seen in the die shots of it. And we have known him thanks to I work here present:

Tux in IC (die shot) or micrograph

  • And finally, I think that it should not be overlooked that the pet Tux has been in space. Yes, this symbol has reached outer space ... Here you can see it:

And I'm sure there will be some other thing that eludes me ... There would be to write an encyclopedia on Tux.

Popularity and Mechandising

Tux plush

La Tux popularity has made it widely used for both fiction and profit by selling numerous souvenirs of this mascot. In fact, it has even appeared in some films and fiction series, and even the logo of the artist Ephixa is based on Tux, as well as in video games, advertisements such as Froot Loops, comics such as Hellblazer's, or User Friendly webcominc ...

Eg video games has appeared as the main character on Pingus, SuperTux, SuperTux Kart, OpenArena, FreedroidRPG, Team Fortress 2, Tux Racer, FreCiv, WarMUX, Frozen Bubble, LinCity-NG, etc. But it has also been used by other projects such as Corel Linux, a multitude of other distros, Tux Droid, etc.

Adopt a Tux

Its great popularity and its legion of fans have made it a very profitable product. I do not know if as much as Baby Yoda, but it sure has generated a great income to those who profit from the sales of all kinds of merchandising based on Tux, from lighters, t-shirts, dolls, stickers, stuffed animals, etc.

If you want to buy one of these I remember or you want to give it away, here are some good examples that you will like:

After having read their entire story, you will appreciate them even more ...

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