There are many stories and tales about Linux, from the first day that it was created, to today, when there are so many distributions that people are busier distro hopping rather than actually using their system. Linux has been around for 31 years and it is still going strong.

Today, Linux is on many computers, as well as lots of mobile phones, due to Android.

Linux has a brand character or a mascot, as people would call them. The mascot is called Tux and is a penguin. Why a penguin, of all things? Well, there is a story about that, of course. Here is all that you should know about Tux.

Linus Torvalds and His Trip to Australia

Back in 1993, Linux was still very young and version 1.0 was not even released. Linus Torvalds was on a trip in Australia, to show Linux to the Australia Unix Users Group. Australia being as it is, everything can kill you, even penguins.

When Torvalds visited the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, he was bitten by a feral fairy penguin. His colleague, Jeff Ayers, stated that Torvalds had contracted penguinitis, a state where you spend lots of time thinking about penguins, them being cute and all. Even Torvalds had comments on the situations, that the penguins should be locked up, being as ferocious as they are. 

The Tux Story

Linux needed a logo and it didn’t have one. That was problematic. You need something for people to associate with a product or service and there was a need for a logo. The first design of the penguin was made by Alan Cox, one of the main Linux developers, in 1996. The design was refined over time, and the last edition that ended up being used was made by Larry Ewing, in GIMP, of course and released under the GPL.

Funny as it is, Tux didn’t win any of the competitions for the Linux logo, and there were three of them. So it became a brand ambassador or mascot and not a logo. Tux was named that way by James Hughes, who thought it to be an acronym for Torvalds and Unix. It is also thought to stand for tuxedo, because the penguin body resembles a tuxedo with a white shirt.

A penguin was also chosen because Torvalds thought it very funny and cute to see a slightly fat penguin sitting there, happy after a large meal. 

Tux Over The Years

Tux was used in many Linux projects, as well as video games, as either a cameo or a logo. TuxGuitar, a guitar tablature reader, uses Tux holding a guitar as their logo. Tux had various changes, often to support a cause or event taking place somewhere in the world.

This was the story of Tux the penguin, the Linux brand ambassador.