Open Ballot: Does Tux help or hinder Linux?


Penguins are cute, right? Pretty much everyone agrees with that, but whether a penguin makes a good mascot for an operating system - that's open to debate. On the one hand, Tux's cheerful face and relaxed posture could be the perfect way to express what we love about Linux. It's not too corporate, it's fun, and it's happy to welcome anyone into its fold. But on the other hand, it could be argued that such a toy-like mascot stops big business from taking the community seriously. Would a more conventional logo make us look more professional? How about a different, more powerful sort of animal?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and we'll read out the best in our podcast. (If you are an actual penguin, please note that in your message, and we will put on the appropriate voice.)

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Your comments

Are you serious?

It must be hard to come up with a new question every fortnight, but this one?

Here a few suggestions to improve participation and trolling (which is more or less the same on the internet):

1. Is Ubuntu trying to become the OS X of the poor man?
2. Are software patents threatening Linux?
3. Is Google still our friend?
4. Is Linux Mint the better Ubuntu?
5. Will 2012 be the year of MikeOS on the desktop?

And no, Tux does not hinder Linux. Free (as in beer) is what hinders Linux adoption for a lot of companies. With the exception of Red Hat there are not many people you can blame / sue when something goes wrong and that is important for companies. And I guess when it comes to desktop computers for the office, all the person making the budget for the next year does is multiply the price of a Windows license with the number of desktops in the company, as that is basically all he knows.

PS: Great podcast, please go on even if you can't find any questions...

Suited to Linux

As a logo, Tux is perfect: neat, bold, compact. It stands out well in the logo lineups in e.g. hosting adverts.

The informal sense in Tux might hold some companies back, but we've always got other logos to stand in front of Tux: Ubuntu, Centos, Red Hat. We can hide Tux from the execs if needed. I don't think admins will be put off at all.

Also, I think in this world of social networks, trendy companies and transparency, a more relaxed attitude can seem modern, open and honest. As time goes on, this will be a help rather than a hindrance.

Maybe staring at his arse rolling down a ski-slope undermines this somewhat, so don't show Tuxracer to your CTO...

On Mascots

Tux has been well established as the mascot for everything Linux. While I recognize the penguin as a good mascot, it can be taken as something that is not serious, especially when it comes to the professional image. But then, that is my own opinion.

I use a black and white cat as a mascot for my website, and the PCLinuxOS distribution used the bull for its mascot for the 2010 edition (and eliminated it for 2011).

But then, there are far more pressing issues we need to deal with when it comes to Linux. Take marketing for starters.

Red Hat and Attachmate (formerly Novell) have had successes in marketing Linux through their enterprise solutions.

Google's success with Android placed Linux-powered devices into the hands of millions.

Ubuntu, of course, is still the popular distribution for those of us who use Linux.

However, there are many people and business out there that still rely on Microsoft for their IT solutions. When you go into a store to purchase a desktop or laptop in the States, unless it is a Mac, you will still find Windows installed on the machine. Of course, we can create restore discs and replace Windows with whatever distribution we want.

Then there is the issue of patents.

Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility is an example of how big the issue of patents are when it comes to Linux. It is obvious that Microsoft wanted to buy Motorola Mobility simply for its patents, and not to make smartphones.

The Open Invention Network was established as a means of enabling developers to use patented technologies with Linux without repercussions from the patent holders.

Attachmate's acquisition of Novell brought some patents into its portfolio, but the UNIX source code was not included in the transaction. (Thank God!)

tux is doing a great job

I think Red Hat has already covered that with their logo of a triceratops being smacked on the horn so we already have a corporate distro with a respectable logo.

Compared to the paperclip, that silly dog and the spandex MS butterfly (don't even google that) I think tux is respectable enough.

But no, you're right, the only reason not everyone is using Plan9 yet is because Glenda looks like a rabbit with myxomatosis.

The noble penguin can be

The noble penguin can be made into a great logo, yes - but its standard Tux representation is just childish and cartoon-y.

Tux for ever

I'm sure that Tux is a good thing and will outlast us all ;-)

Solid system

I perfectly agree with prevoius posts.
Company needs another company, which will guarantee that system will work and can provide timely support in need.
In this scenario system (distro) will be rather branded by company providing the distribution rather than by generic penguin logo.
Beside, Linux is not a new thing and every IT Manager or Director has already established opinion about it, and if Linux logo plays important role in his/her opinion, it would pretty much mean that manager is stupid.

Beside what IMHO opnion matters:
- A lot of anoying bugs in Desktop, Example: I use Linux on my laptop in 2 scenarios: either I use my laptop stand alone or I plug it into dock station and I use connected monitor with higher screen resoution (compare to what is natively on my laptop). This is not very odd/strange scenario, isn't it? But it never works well on all my linuxes. Every time I must trigger xorg configuration and even if I get proper resolution in both cases, there are still glitches here and there mostly in desktop environment. Now if I want to plugin my laptop to yet different dock with yet another monitor, all linuxes are totally confused and this scenario never works (this is not add either - I can have one dock at work, the other one at home and also ocasionally run laptop on vacations). From the other side it all works perfectly on Windows XP dated from 2002 year! So I ask who cares in xorg or among linux desktops developers? I have the impression that there is lack of solid testing and a lot of youg developers who preferes working an all kinds of fancy stuff or fountains instead.
- The other important factor are relatively weak Office Suits. GNU Office or Koffice/Calligra are more like toys, LibreOffice is better but (I'm sorry) are well 8-10 years behind MS Office. If you don't believe me try to import and analyse in Excel vs. Libre Spreadsheet the csv file with 100 columns and 1.5M rows.
- Yet another factor is architectural. Linux/Unixes mostly believes in shared libraries concept, what is generally good. But it mostly mean that you are enforced to use one particular version of software (those provided by distro reps). Once you upgrade to certain version (which may introduce annoying bug) it is not easy to step back. I now there are backports repos, but I did not heard about repos prividing older versions of programs that those available in disto main repository (yes there are few such cases in FreeBSD ports - but that is all I heard about). For this case atomic updates concept (see last articles) looks promising, but it is still yet to mature and be adopted by big names distros.

PS: Sorry for long post :)

Personal taste

I think the current penguin looks more like windows xp... I think tux needs a make over to make it look more sheek, more with it. I mean, it looks cute but look at both mac and windows... I don't think you could call either of those symbols cute.

Tobi got it right

See post of Tobi.

Tux isn't much of a mascot.

This question strikes me as a little odd: Apple has an "apple" symbol that everyone seems to recognize because it is on their products and their commercials. I think people would also recognize the "flag" of MS with the 4 colored squares for the same reason. But with Linux each distro has a different symbol. Puppy Linux has a puppy, Ubuntu has 3 (abstract) people holding hands to form a circle, and you can check Distrowatch for others. Do you see the Tux penguin on Ubuntu's website? On Linux Mint's website? Fedora's website? It's not clear to me how someone outside the Linux community knows to associate the Tux penguin with Ubuntu or any other distro. Where would they have seen Tux? Until Tux gets branded on everything Linux, he isn't much of a mascot. It's too easy to work with Linux and never see him.

Tux good OR bad?

I like the Tux logo, and I also like the IBM Linux logo (Linux in yellow/gold lettering on a Black disc inside a blue ring).

Is not the logo for an alternative to Microsoft/Apple O.S. only mudded by
the different distro logo's out there not to mention the desktop logo's.

But at the end of the day does "linux" do the job that the business folks want doing?

Mike K is right; too cartoonish

While the penguin is a beautiful and noble bird, and could work fine for a symbol of Linux, the currently popular version is just badly, badly designed and needs a refactoring.
To go a little further, why not base an improved logo on a different species? The emperor penguin itself is just one variety of this amazing creature; and for my money a less-overused one like the fast-swimming Humboldt penguin or the psychedelic-colored Royal penguin would offer a more interesting basis for a logo.
If you think this is too much detail, I would submit that such thinking is the problem here. The Linux logo looks amateurish; and I can't help but wonder if a better logo would attract more design-oriented users. Maybe then promised improvements to GIMP will happen within two years of being announced. Maybe then Ubuntu's backgrounds won't always come off as both Apple-imitating and lame. Maybe then video editing (yes including the vaunted OpenShot) wouldn't be so miserable, convoluted, and borderline useless.

Compare to the bigger distros...

Compared to the bigger distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat and Suse these all have corporate-quality logos that state their intentions.

Tux is cute yes but (if they started it) I'd take any of the other logos booting up on Android phone as opposed to him.

Yes! No!

Well it didn't stop me trying Linux, even though I think it's a really, really stupid logo for an OS.

Selection mechanism

If a potential user can't see past 'our' mascot then do we really want them joining the fold?

Is it recognizable? Yes.

What a logo consists of, is of little importance. The main point is "brand" recognition, and in that regards, the Tux logo is simply outstanding. I can't even watch a TV documentary about penguins without thinking of Linux (but that may tell more about me than anything else).

Certainly doesn't hinder

Among all the reasons I have been given for not using Linux, Tux doesn't make an appearance. Neither has he been mentioned as a reason to stop using it.
On the other hand, he does provide simple brand recognition, as a number of people have noticed the Tux badge on some piece of hardware I've been using (laptop, netbook) and asked if that means I use Linux.

Tux is great

I'd like to see the windows logo try and beat up tux! Or the apple try and bite him. It just wouldn't work. But we see plenty of Tux smashing windows wallpapers don't we?

Time for an overhaul

I don't think there's anything wrong with having a penguin mascot, but Tux needs a bit of a redesign. He's an overweight little fellow with what I've always felt was an air of insufferable smugness. Which may be appropriate, but perhaps not the image we should be projecting.

I think Tux is good

I think, given the diversity of distros with their own, personal, logos that Tux is a good thing. It represents a distinctive, overlying unity in the Linux world. So what if it's not so "corporate" as the MS or Apple logo - I don't think that's a bad thing, it separates itself from any one particular enterprise and gives people the opportunity to create their own take on Tux whilst still keeping the them of a penguin, a more corporate logo probably wouldn't give that flexibility. Also, I quite like penguins, though my girlfriend, who used to be a zoo-keeper, describes them as "fat little birds that stink of fish, with beady eyes and viscous beaks".


Sounds like my cousins! lol

Tux is instantly recognisable

Tux definitely does not hinder. Anyway, to change it now would be tantamount to Apple changing names to Crapple and their logo to a pig taking a dump!

Tux is instantly recognisable, amazingly enough, to most people, even if they do not actually know what Linux is.

Here in Australia, I am seeing more and more products packaged with "compatible with Windows, OSX and Linux" stamped on the box, along with the logos, and might I say, Tux look right at home there.

The issue (as others have mentioned) is saturation. Where is Tux on the different distro's websites/packaging/documentation etc.

Perhaps the solution could be for Linus to require, in the kernel licensing, that Tux be prominently displayed on any product's/distro's website/packaging/documentation.


Additional to above

Perhaps in the form of a "Powered by Linux" logo.....


It's silly

Never have liked Tux and nor do I like KDE's Kthis Kthat. Both are really silly and need fixing.

Fat bastard

Microsoft: Sleek stylised font, flying a flag for it's OS.
Apple: Fruit, healthy, perhaps with the bite out of it a reference to Adam's descent from Eden - tenuous.
Tux: Fat bastard cartoon character.

I don't think he's necessarily bad for Linux. Penguins are cool. Fact*. But a sleeker version might change some perceptions.

...And before anyone starts ranting about me being 'fat-cist', I have the typical spare tyre of a desk-worker. Yes, I would be perceived better without it.

*How is this a fact? Have you ever seen another animal look nearly as good as a penguin does in shades?

A Great Question

Except that you're asking the wrong people. Fan is short for "fanatic" and they are prone to overzealousness and errors in judgment such as groupthink. The question is whether Tux helps or hinders Linux with the implied follow on of 'getting regular computer users to give it a whirl.' Not only is the penguin silly and childish, but those who recognize what it represents [probably] associate it with concepts like 'super geeky' and 'not friendly to normal people.' My guess is Tux serves far better as a deterrent to winning over average users (isn't that the goal?) then it does in attracting them.

...And the great thing is that even once Linux starts winning over regular computer users [in respectable numbers] there will always be super geeky distros to keep the fanatics comfortable in their cozy little fraternities.


For a simple reason: The cute penguin helps non-Linux users to memorise that Great OS


I think the first part of your comment has to be hyperbole, but the latter, that could be genius. Would all the device manufacturers etc etc give up not having to pay for their software and OS if they had to put a penguin on the box?

I don't think so.

However, it was a cooler logo, they wouldn't have to think about it.

@Adam Griffiths

Agreed. I should have qualified the first part of my post with "from my personal experience".

Regarding the look of Tux, well that is all subjective. Personally, I really like Tux the way he (assuming Tux is a he here, now that's an interesting side question for you all, is Tux a he or a she????) looks, whereas others don't.

Personally I don't think Tux should be swapped out for another or have his/her looks changed. As it is, Tux in his/her current format is recognisable and associated with Linux. The brand recognition is already there. To change now would be a step backwards and brand recognition would have to be build again from scratch.


Plus, think of....

Plus think of the poor overpaid and underworked.......correction......overworked and underpaid ;) guys at LXF Towers as they would have to redesign all their magazine and website logos!!!!

Now, why?

Now, why did I start using Linux. I don't remember penguins having anything to do with it...

It had more to do with using an efficient, stable OS as opposed to the Blue Screen Monster.

Give me Tux, much better than a set of warped windows.


How can you hate penguins? And do people really look at an operating system and think "well, it's stable, secure and efficient but I'm not sure about the penguin"! How many people actually see the penguin anyway?

Maybe we could go for something more professional, how about something like a half-eaten apple left out to rot? Or how about a chequered flag that looks like something my granny would wear? What about if we just used the word Linux but used a different colour for each letter?


Nice trolling guys :)

Ofcourse tux helps Linux hes the mascot. When people see tux they know people are talking about Linux and not mac or windows because tux is the logo and nice trolling guys.

Too many logos.

Others have already said as much, but with every distribution having it's own logo, Tux is a bit sidelined and thus doesn't mean that much to Joe Public. Only Ubuntu is starting to gain real traction amongst the public as an O/S name and logo they recognise beyond Windows and Mac OS/X. Of course, Android sits on Linux but again it's the name of the distro (if you can think of Android as a distro) that's become well known, not the Linux O/S underneath.

For the masses to notice Linux, we'd probably need every distro to include it in it's name, i.e. "Ubuntu Linux", "Fedora Linux", as currently it's assumed or implied, but rarely stated explicitly. Tux could still be shoe-horned in somehow, but I don't see it helping.

Tux is, I'm afraid, a little meaningless in the grand scheme of things - that little green robot has already shot to fame and left Tux holding the shopping...


...Tux should be replaced with a Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard or a Lion

you don't understand

The penguin is important, I can't go into any more detail on this public forum.

But just take it from me... it is of the upmost importance...

If you're asking the question...

...then you already know the answer. Tux is a puerile choice for a professional logo. If you want credibility in the corporate and professional world then have a suitable logo.

However, technical staff will choose Linux on its own merits; Tux is only a drawback when providing information to (non-technical) management.

Tux for Linux

I don't think Tux is a hinderance to Linux at all and if seeing a cute, little penguin gets even one more person to try a Linux distro, more power to him.


Tux is just fine. Having a penguin as a mascot hasn't harmed Penguin Books has it? No-one accuses them of being childish. Hmm, that's an open invitation to the next troll, isn't it? Argh! Fail!


Tux should stay as the mascot for Linux. No one ever buys Linux. They buy a distro, which other companies have added their own corporate logos to. These logos are what sell Linux in the corporate world.
Tux was actually one of the reasons I was drawn to Linux in the first place.


1) Yes
2) Yes
3) No
4) Yes
5) Definitely

Yes - one Tux to join them all

Looking into the kaleidoscope of lizards and puppies and complicated geometric shapes that symbolize the different distros one might forget that they are the part of one large family. Tux is something that represents something that is common for all. It's either a penguin or a gnu antelope to do the job.

Tux is cartoonish

Regardless of whether you want group A or group B "joining the Linux fold" (how arrogant!), or whether there is mass corporate adoption of Linux, or whatever ... taken just on its own merits, Tux does look childish. Even updated versions where Tux is inside of an apple and looks cross-eyed also look childish.

Even if I never have anything else to do with Windows or Apple, I myself would prefer a sleeker, more elegant logo. Whether that is a "mascot" or not, and whether the mascot remains a penguin, is a whole 'nother issue, but the execution of any logo/mascot in my opinion should look less like something for kids.

I personally would also prefer monochrome, but retain a full color option for whoever wants it.

If it is the remain a penguin, designs in the vein of the Mandriva penguin (linked to in a comment above) are a good start. More stylized, simpler, cleaner silhouettes would be a plus.

Tux - Best Mascot Ever

Those who think Tux is not suitable as a mascot because it is not "corporate" enough, needs to wake up. If a business/corporation chooses to ignore Linux because of the mascot, instead of looking at the merits of using a proven technology, they are the loosers not Linux.

Tux is a perfect mascot for a system that is disruptive. Changing the mascot will not change the success of Linux, but it will kill a symbol of where Linux came from. Tux belongs right there with the Apple logo - if anything needs changing it is some business suits perception. Relax and enjoy!

I cringe every time I see it

I cringe every time I see it. It looks like it’s been designed for the cover of “Baby’s First Reading Book”.

Tux Rocks..

This is a fatuous question, but I love Tux as a mascot. I even named one of my cats after him.

Michelin and AFLAC may both want to reconsider theirs however...

Tux is good

(S)he deserves greater prominence.

Having said that, many years ago a 12"-high inflatable penguin used to sit on a bookshelf in a corner of my office.

I had not even heard of Linux then - never mind using it and trying to inflict it on as many other people as possible.

This may, however, be of no real significance.

(By the way, the captchas on this forum are sometimes rather demanding!!!)

I Like Him

I like him a lot.
Leave him alone.
He's hurting no one.


if he doesn't stay, all my Tux sh-wag will become meaningless. We can't have that can we?

Keep Tux

No question, Tux is a great mascot and should stay.

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