So What's with the Penguin?

Having made you run off to Larry Ewing's site for a copy of Tux, I suppose I should take a moment to answer one of the most frequently asked questions in the Linux world. After all, every time you look at a Linux book, boxed set, or Web site, you stand a good chance of coming face to face with a fat, smiling penguin. You may well be wondering what Linux has to do with this penguin (Figure 15-13). Well, for starters, his name is Tux, and he is the Linux mascot. The most famous version of Tux (and there are many) is Larry Ewing's design.

Figure 15-13. Tux, the Linux mascot.


The story behind Tux is the stuff of legend now and, like most legends, a little hard to pin down. Linus Torvalds was asked what he envisioned for a mascot. The answer from Linus was, "You should be imagining a slightly overweight penguin, sitting down after having gorged itself, and having just burped. It's sitting there with a beatific smile?the world is a good place to be when you have just eaten a few gallons of raw fish and you can feel another 'burp' coming."

There is also another story where Linus claims he was attacked by a killer penguin at the Canberra zoo, where he contracted "penguinitis," a disease whose main symptom is that you "stay awake at night just thinking about penguins and feeling great love towards them."

That's the thing about legends. They tend to get strange over time.

Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100 mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.

?Linus Torvalds