Linux character
Tux, here in a vector conversion but originally drawn as a raster image by Larry Ewing in 1996
First appearance1996
Created byLarry Ewing
In-universe information

Tux is a penguin character and the official brand character of the Linux kernel.[1] Originally created as an entry to a Linux logo competition, Tux is the most commonly used icon for Linux, although different Linux distributions depict Tux in various styles. The character is used in many other Linux programs and as a general symbol of Linux.



The concept of the Linux brand character being a penguin came from Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. According to Jeff Ayers, Linus Torvalds had a "fixation for flightless, fat waterfowl" and Torvalds claims to have contracted "penguinitis" after being nibbled by a little penguin on a visit to the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia,[2] joking that the disease "makes you stay awake at nights just thinking about penguins and feeling great love towards them."[3]

Linus spoke at the 1994 AUUG Conference (5–9 Sept, Melbourne) [4] as part of a "World Tour" to Belgium, Australia, Singapore and elsewhere, mentioning in Linux Journal he was bitten by a penguin at Canberra Zoo, not at Phillip Island, Victoria, by a (shy) wild penguin.[5]

In an interview Linus commented on the penguin bite:[6]

I've been to Australia several times, these days mostly for Linux.Conf.Au. But my first trip—and the one when I was bitten by a ferocious fairy penguin: you really should keep those things locked up!—was in 93 or so, talking about Linux for the Australian Unix Users Group.

At Canberra zoo a sign said in 2009 that staff believed the "original Tux" was still resident in the penguin enclosure.[7]

Apart from this, in the book Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, there is an excerpt dedicated to how Tux became the mascot of the Linux OS. In the book, Linus says he does not remember how Tux became the mascot, but believes the zoo story, which, according to his wife, Tove Torvalds, is probably right.

The story, according to Linus, is that while Tove may in fact have vaguely mentioned penguins at some early stage, it was in a conversation with two high-ranking Linux types that the icy creatures were first seriously considered as the operating system’s official mascot.

In 1996 after an initial design suggestion made by Alan Cox,[8] use of an image Torvalds found on an FTP site,[9] showing a penguin figurine depicted in a similar style to the Creature Comforts characters created by Nick Park, the concept for Tux was further refined by Torvalds on the Linux kernel mailing list.[10]

Linus Torvalds' "favourite penguin picture", used as inspiration for Tux

Torvalds was looking for something fun and sympathetic to associate with Linux, and he felt that a slightly fat penguin sitting down after having eaten a great meal perfectly fit the bill.[11]

The final and original design was a submission for a Linux logo contest by Larry Ewing[12] [irrelevant citation] using the first publicly released[13] version (0.54) of GIMP, a free software graphics package. It was released by him under the following condition:[14]

Permission to use and/or modify this image is granted provided you acknowledge me lewing@isc.tamu.edu and The GIMP if someone asks.

Since Tux won none of the three competitions that were held Tux is formally known as the Linux brand character and not the logo.[15]

The first person to call the penguin "Tux" was James Hughes, who said that it stood for "(T)orvalds (U)ni(X)".[16] However, tux is also an abbreviation of tuxedo, the outfit which bears resemblance in appearance to a penguin.

Tuz 2009

Tuz, the Tasmanian devil (2009)

Tuz, a Tasmanian devil wearing a fake penguin beak, was the brand character of the 2009 linux.conf.au conference. It has been chosen by Linus Torvalds as the logo for version 2.6.29 of the Linux kernel[17] to support the effort to save the Tasmanian devil species from extinction[18] due to the devil facial tumour disease.

The image was designed by Andrew McGown and recreated as an SVG using Inkscape by Josh Bush,[19] and released under the CC BY-SA license.[20]

Linux for Workgroups 2013

Tux logo in the "Linux for Workgroups" release (2013)

For the Linux 3.11-rc1 release, Linus Torvalds changed the code name from "Unicycling Gorilla" to "Linux for Workgroups" and modified the logo that some systems display when booting to depict a Tux holding a flag with a symbol that is reminiscent of the logo of Windows for Workgroups 3.11, which was released in 1993.[21]

Uses and reception

In some Linux distributions, for example Gentoo,[22] Tux greets the user during booting with multi-processor systems displaying multiple images of Tux, one for each processor core.

Video games

Tux has taken on a role in the Linux community similar to that which Mario holds in the Nintendo community.[23] The character has been featured in open-source look-alikes of other mainstream games, such as Tux Racer, Extreme Tux Racer, SuperTux, SuperTuxKart, and Tux Paint.[24][25]

Female Tux versions in video games

Some games that star Tux also include explicitly female penguin characters, allowing the players to play as one of those characters instead of Tux. One such female penguin is Tux's friend "Gown". Gown is variously depicted as being a pink version of Tux (XTux) or as having a somewhat less fat appearance and wearing items of clothing such as a red and white short skirt and a hair bow (e.g. TuxKart and A Quest for Herring).[citation needed]

In SuperTux and SuperTuxKart, there is a different female penguin called "Penny" who is purple and white (SuperTuxKart once had Gown and still has a map called "Gown's Bow"). In the arcade game Tux 2 there is a female penguin called "Trixi", and in FreeCiv the female leader name for the Antarctican civilization is "Tuxette".[citation needed]

Tux in popular culture

Other uses


See also


  1. ^ Linux Logos and brand characters. linux.org
  2. ^ ""Tux" the Aussie Penguin". Linux Australia. Archived from the original on 7 May 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2006.
  3. ^ Delio, Michelle (13 March 2001). "The Story Behind Tux the Penguin". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on 17 December 2022. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  4. ^ Torvalds, Linus (15 March 1994). Linux Kernel Implementation. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  5. ^ Frazier, Belinda (1 January 1995). "A Conversation with Linus Torvalds". Linux Journal. Archived from the original on 7 January 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  6. ^ Buchanan, James (22 August 2007). "Linus Torvalds talks future of Linux (page 3)". APC Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018.
  7. ^ "The Story Behind Tux". Wikimedia Commons. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  8. ^ Cox, Alan (2 May 1996). "Linux-Kernel Archive: Re: Linux logo". lkml.iu.edu. Archived from the original on 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  9. ^ Torvalds, Linus (5 May 1996). "LKML: Linus Torvalds: Re: Linux logo". lkml.org. Archived from the original on 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  10. ^ Torvalds, Linus (9 May 1996). "Linux-Kernel Archive: Re: Linux Logo prototype". lkml.iu.edu. Archived from the original on 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  11. ^ "Why a Penguin?". Linux Online. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  12. ^ Larry Ewing. "Notes on creation". Retrieved 31 July 2007.
  13. ^ Bunks, Carey (2000). Grokking the GIMP. New Riders. ISBN 0-7357-0924-6.
  14. ^ Larry Ewing. "Linux 2.0 Penguins". Retrieved 25 June 2006.
  15. ^ The History of Tux the Linux Penguin Archived 12 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Sjbaker.org. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  16. ^ Re: Let's name the penguin! (was: Re: Linux 2.0 really _is_ released..). Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Ussg.iu.edu (10 June 1996). Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  17. ^ Linus' git commit from Rusty Russell[permanent dead link]. Git.kernel.org. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  18. ^ corbet (17 March 2009). "The kernel gets a new logo". LWN.net. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  19. ^ Varghese, Sam (30 December 2008). "One Bush who has designs on LCA2009". iTWire. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  20. ^ file Documentation/logo.txt from Linux kernel source code. Git.kernel.org. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  21. ^ Linux for Workgroups, The H Open, 15 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Gentoo Forums :: View topic – Tux at top of screen during boot?". Forums.gentoo.org. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Game Review – Tux Racer". Linux Focus. 27 January 2001. Retrieved 30 June 2023. There are a lot of games for Linux in which Tux plays the role of the hero. Whether he is equipped with different kinds of weapon systems, seated in a kart, fighting the Evil Empire (located in the north-west of the U.S.), solving riddles or challenging quests (either alone or with helping friends), he is always quite busy in order to entertain the Linux community.
  24. ^ Patterson, Blake (25 April 2001). "Tux for OS X!". MacRumours. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  25. ^ Norlin, Josef (9 October 2018). "TUX Games". Tux4Ubuntu. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  26. ^ "Tux Frootloops". 29 May 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2019 – via YouTube.
  27. ^ Corel Linux OS Deluxe, Corel Corporation, 1999.
  28. ^ Werner, Max Jonas (15 January 2007). "Tux-Besteck von WMF" (in German). linux-community.de. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  29. ^ The website of TuxGuitar. Tuxguitar.herac.com.ar. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  30. ^ The first Linux monument in history unveiled in Russia on lazarenko.me (archived)
  31. ^ Тюменские пользователи Linux собираются поставить памятник пингвину on www.tumix.ru (2010)
  32. ^ "October Toys". octobertoys.com.

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Tux (mascot)", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.

Media related to Tux at Wikimedia Commons