Origins of Tux
Aussie origin of Tux, the Linux penguin
Did you know that the penguin motif for Linux originated right here in Australia after Linus Torvalds had an encounter with a particularly ferocious fairy penguin?
Tux, the Linux penguin, originated when Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux kernel, on his first visit to Australia, was bitten by "a ferocious fairy penguin" at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. He avers he was then infected with penguinitis. Clearly this helps to explain subsequent events.
By early 1996 enthusiastic Linux fans were demanding a logo or mascot for Linux. Sharks, eagles and other heraldic beasts were abandoned because "Linus likes penguins".
So many penguins were drawn - and withdrawn when Linus demanded a loveable, cuddly, contented penguin, a plump and happy herring-eater, too full of fish to stand up for his photo shoot.
The one eventually chosen by popular consent was painted, using the GIMP, by Larry Ewing.
In June that year, the boys on the mailing list were looking for a name for the penguin, and he was christened TUX. Like many, this writer thought he was called Tux because he wears a tuxedo. Not so, although this does help one remember the name. James Hughes, bioethicist and famous Linux fan, suggested Tux, which stands for (T)orvalds (U)ni(X), ie Tux. This ingenious invention was accepted by popular acclaim and so we have Tux.
Tux, in keeping with the Linux open source philosophy, is not copyrighted, so he makes many public appearances in different outfits and poses. The only proviso is that acknowledgement be given to Larry Ewing's original creation "if anyone asks".
Our Tux Oz was drawn by Ruth Brown who lives at www.clarica.com.au