Linux At 30 - A Penguin For Your Thoughts
Written by Lucy Black   
Sunday, 20 June 2021

Linux turns 30 this summer and, as part of the celebrations, the Linux Foundation asked the open source community "How has Linux Impacted your Life?" Authors of 30 personal stories have each been able to name a penguin. This led us to ask, Why is the Linux mascot a penguin?

Back in April the Linux Foundation asked for submissions to what is now a slide show of stories about how Linux changed their lives. The responses came from all over the globe and 30 of them were selected to create a slideshow that you can view on the Linux Foundation blog. To thank the 30 respondents for their contributions, each of them was invited to name a penguin adopted from SANCCOB, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, a charity which rescues and rehabilitates seabirds that are injured or abandoned and then releases them back into the wild. This is why each of the slides features a penguin!


Click here to read all the stories and see the names given to their adopted penguins, who will be raised for a year by SANCOBB before being released back into the wild. 


If you are interested in furthering the work of rescuing penguins individuals can adopt and name the penguin of their choice for a donation of 600 South African Rand (equivalent to around $42 and payable in dollars via PayPal). In return you will be emailed  a certificate of adoption valid for one year, which includes a photograph and details of ‘your’ penguin, as well as a special letter of thanks from ‘your’ bird. Donation helps cover the cost of fish, medication, water and other essentials your bird needs to grow strong enough for release back into the wild.

So what motivated the Linux Foundation to adopt 30 penguins to mark its 30th Year? The link is Tux which since 1996 has been the Linux brand character. The name "Tux"  stands for (T)orvalds (U)ni(X)", but of course is also an abbreviation of tuxedo, the outfit which bears resemblance in appearance to a penguin.


Tux, as originally drawn as a raster image by Larry Ewing in 1996. Original has transparent background. Source:Wikipedia 

According to the Wikipedia entry Tux was created by Larry Ewing and further refined by Linus Torvalds, the creator Linux and that Torvalds took his inspiration from the following image:


Linus Torvalds' "favourite penguin picture".

But why was Torvalds so keen on penguins. He himself joked that he had contracted "penguinitis", a disease that "makes you stay awake at nights just thinking about penguins and feeling great love towards them" after being bitten by a "ferocious" Fairy Penguin on his first trip to Austrailia in the early 1990s to talk to the Australian Unix Users Group. 

The association between penguins and Linux is now firmly established and a new generation of penguins is beneffiting from the link.




More Information

How Linux Has Impacted Your Lives – Celebrating 30 Years of Open Source

Tux on Wikipedia

Adopt A Penguin (SNCCOB)

Related Articles 

Linux Kernel Turns 28 Today

Open Source Celebrates 20 Years

Linus Torvalds On Linux Past, Present and Future 

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 June 2021 )