You know it, but do you know why Linux’s mascot is a penguin?

Windows has its own logo, a logo that we all know made up of 4 squares. macOS, Apple’s operating system, for its part also has its own characteristic logo: the bitten apple. However, neither of these two operating systems has managed to have a mascot as charismatic as Linux, which has always been associated with Tux, the friendly penguin that we all know. But where does this pet come from?

If we want to know the origins of this mascot, we must go back to 1991, the year in which Linus Torvalds created the Linux Kernel, a set of lines of code that, before being the basis of thousands of distributions, had the objective of controlling hardware components from a computer. In 1993, a fairy penguin bit Linus Torvalds during a trip to Australia, being, although he did not know it yet, this animal linked to the new open source operating system.

In 1996, Linus was looking for a logo to associate with his operating system. And, after many suggestions from the community (ranging from foxes to eagles or sharks), the creator finally came across an animation, shared on networks by Alan Cox, of this animal. The round eyes and ample belly made me automatically decide to make it the Linux logo, a “cute” logo that wouldn’t scare new users.

This penguin has accompanied Linux throughout its life, although the final version of the mascot we all know was designed by Larry Ewing using the GIMP digital drawing software. And as for the name, Tux, it’s just an abbreviation for Torvalds Unix.

Super Tux Kart

Tux’s shadow is elongated

Since the 1990s, Tux has been the face of Linux. This logo, also with an open license, can also be used in any design without having to pay rights or royalties, as expected from a system like Linux. But the nice mascot has not stayed only in the core legacy, but has gone further, and has several more curiosities:

  • Tux has starred in several games: SuperTux, Tux Paint, SuperTuxKart, Tux Racer, and Tux Math Scrabble, among others.
  • While Tux is black in color, he has several female variants. The best known is Gown, the “pink Tux”, although there are also other alternatives such as Penny, Trixi and Tuxette.
  • The best known Tux wallpapers are the modifications of the Windows backgrounds with the penguin humiliating the Microsoft system.
  • The smallest representation of this logo is just 130 microns in size, and is located on the ring of a microprocessor.
  • Tux has been present in several NASA projects, so we could say that the penguin has been in space.

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