November 16, 2001

Web review: Aw, isn't Tux so darned cute??

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
Thank goodness Linus Torvalds isn't like most guys I know. If he was, the Linux mascot would be a football or a pit bull or a bikini-clad cheerleader. Or all three, juxtaposed in some interesting fashion. But Linus is different, and he likes penguins, so we get Tux -- that cute little bird whose likeness is synonymous with Linux. Here's a Web site that gives us the complete history of Tux.Our favorite penguin friend is only 5 years old, and was born as the result of a discussion back in 1996 on the linux-kernel mailing list about choosing an official logo and mascot for the new operating system, according to "A Complete History of Tux." I'm betting they were probably pretty close to picking the Hooters girl as a mascot, when Linus chimed in and mentioned "a fondness for penguins."

The site's got a repost of Linus' detailed specifications for the penguin mascot. "Not FAT," he writes, "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." Cute and cuddly. Something that kids would want to take home.

Here, we can also find out why Linus likes penguins. (Supposedly he was bitten by one.) And another now-famous geek, Larry Ewing, is the one who created the perfect penguin, exactly to Linus' specs, and sometime shortly thereafter the winsome creature was dubbed "Tux." (Torvalds UniX, or something like that.)

No history site would be complete without a record of controversy, and here we find that not everyone wanted fun and fuzzy Tux to be the mascot for Linux. Maybe he's just not business-like enough for the enterprise wannabes. Or maybe they just really wanted a football.

Keep scrolling, and you'll get all the Tux trivia you ever wanted and more. If the Linux edition of Trival Pursuit comes out, you'll have the Tux category nailed after a visit or two to Steve Baker's "A Complete History of Tux."


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