"The little guy hasn't been very active in coding the actual kernel, but he sure as hell has made for a very recognizable mascot," says Linux creator Linus Torvalds. "There are people out there who have no interest in computers and wouldn't know what Linux is, but they will recognize Tux as 'that computer thing.'"
"That computer thing" is everywhere. From ashtrays and earrings to coffee mugs and baseball caps, Tux, as the penguin is known, has gained a kind of cult following. The portly bird is the main character in a video game called Tux Racer. Seven-foot incarnations mingle with show-goers at tech industry conferences. Plush stuffed Tuxes are available on the Web. And IBM plastered larger-than-life images of Tux on the sides of buildings in New York during its Peace, Love, Linux campaign in 2001.