Penguins and Other Things (Quoth the Walrus)

One might argue that any Linux logo contest--and there were at least three sets of votes during 1996, the most recent of which lasted almost a full year--is moot on account of Linus's blessing of that darned penguin. In fact, the penguin is now distributed with all 2.x kernels:

[sitting penguin]
Larry Ewing's Linux Penguin

And yet... There are two very good reasons to consider alternatives. The first and most obvious is that the penguin is just not a logo--it's cute, it's professionally drawn, it arguably has become the Linux mascot...but there's nothing about it that says "Linux" and no ties to Linux other than Linus's fondness for short, fat, flightless seabirds. In other words, it's no good as a logo as it currently stands (or sits).

The other reason is that the People have Spoken! Yes, indeed, in the final contest the penguin lost to the first-place logo by 244 votes (ending up with 541), although it did beat out the third-place contestant by a factor of two. So let us taketh a look at some of the competition, including some of the more clever ideas for combining the penguin with other logos. Keep in mind that, wherever voting stats are referred to, they're current as of late May 1997; it's possible they changed slightly in the subsequent month, at which time Greg noticed that the voting site had disappeared. (And if the People would like to Speak at greater length, check out Axel Boldt's threaded Linux-logo discussion area. It's been rather quiet since it moved...)

Among the simplest and most elegant (and most popular) of the true Linux logos are two from Matt Ericson. The second one is the winner in the competition (785 votes), but Greg thinks the first one is much spiffier (164 votes, eighth place):

[`Powered by Linux' lightbulb logo]

[`Linux 2.0 Powered' with red, italic `i' and shadowed text]

But what does Greg know? Others have taken various logos and combined them with the infamous penguin in amusing ways. These two are by the logo authors themselves; the first is Matt's and the second Larry's:

[`Linux Powered' with the penguin]

[`Linux 2.0 Powered' and penguin on top of a blue `swoosh']

Meanwhile Kevin Hughes was too late to make it into the competition, but he has a real flair for simple, elegant design. Here are just a few of his logos, partly inspired by Matt. Kevin favors the black ones, but Greg leans toward the yellow in most cases. Each design (except the tiny one) is available in all three colors on Kevin's own Linux logos page:

[`Linux now!' tiny design]

[`Linux 2.0 Powered' plain text design, gray]

[`Linux Powered' horizontal-penguin design, yellow]

[`Linux Powered' horizontal Box-L design, black]       [`Linux Powered' vertical Box-L design, black]

Greg's idea for a Linux 2.0 logo will be readily recognized as a blatant ripoff of at least three other logos: the latest virtual beer logo, Pacific HiTech's swirly Linux ball (both from the main Linux pics page), and, of course, the infamous penguin. It needs some tweaking yet (e.g., the "2" isn't quite aligned, and the penguin's wing should show through at least the real half of the beer glass), but Greg hopes it proves amusing even as it currently stands. It reached as high as fifth place before dropping to ninth in the final tally (160 votes). On the other hand, reports suggested that Greg's logo (or something like it, anyway) had been integrated into the SparcLinux boot code. Ha!

[`Linux 2 Virtual Brew:  It's not just for breakfast anymore.']

Allen Petlock created this simple logo, which seemed to have a pretty solid lock on third place for quite a while but dropped to fourth in the end (254 votes):

[`Linux 2.0' with a yellow-to-red gradient `swoosh' underneath]

Andreas Dilger immediately penguinized it, earning him seventh-place standing (188 votes). Greg is particularly fond of the SMP flavor (that stands for symmetric multiprocessing, for those of you not up on your TLAs):

[`Linux 2.0,' swoosh and penguin]

[`SPARC Linux 2.0,' swoosh and penguin]

[`Linux 2.0 SMP,' swoosh and dual 200MHz penguins]

Not content to leave off at two penguins, Rob Malda had to go and use eleven of the little beggars:

[`Linux: Don't Fear the Penguins' with 11 of 'em]

Here's a trio of penguin-based logos. The one on the left is by Rose Mary Lawrence and provided courtesy of Real Magic Linux; the more observationally astute among you will have noticed that Linnie (a.k.a. Tux) is displaying his approval of three native Linux products. The other two penguins are by the man who started the craze, from his test page for integrated logos:

[penguin with a Red Hat, Empress t-shirt and BRU mug]         [penguin on golden, L-shaped `Linux Powered' thing]         [penguin reading the Linux Gazette]

And here's a final trio of Tuxen. The pair on the left were created by Michael Rabe for BIGPiNG; the one on the right was created by Nick Fleming for his own amusement (and ours):

[winking Tux]         [Tux with pacifier, rattle and diaper]         [Christmas Tux in the snow]

Whoops, not quite final! Here's one more from Olaf Kirch, author of SSC's Linux Network Administrator's Guide and all-around Linux dude. It's a little crude, and (groan) it contains what might, to some folks, appear to be a sort-of almost-trademark icon but really isn't (and please don't sue Greg anyway), but the symbolism should be clear to anyone who knows on whose source code Linux was not based. Btw, Olaf himself suggested the possibility of some GIMP wizard touching it up a bit, in case any of you artistic folks are reading this:

[penguin punting a Death-Star-like ball]

How about just one more? David Navarro gets the credit for this truly minimalist (and highly portable!) penguin:

  /V\   L   I   N   U   X
 // \\ >Phear the Penguin<
/(   )\

They just keep coming! One of the best renderings in recent memory is by Urs M. E. Streidl, who has an entire page devoted to multi-colored, multi-sized versions of his penguin (somehow strangely reminiscent of the one in The Wrong Trousers, and, of course, to Larry's). Here are just a couple of examples:

[animated blue penguin button]

[large, animated, blue penguin]

Meanwhile, back in the non-penguin corner of the contest we have this lovely pill logo by some anonymous dude or dudette; it ended up in fifth place with 239 votes:

[engraved `LINUX' on a ray-traced pill-shaped ovoid; `2.0.0' beneath]

This beauty is by Michael Rodionov of Novosibirsk State University and managed ninth place before falling back to eleventh (136 votes) at the end:

[`Powered by Linux 2.0' in golden, highlighted letters]

Another anonymous image, this one in a purple plexiglass motif:

[purple background with clear `Linux' and magenta `2' in front]

This astronomical logo (Orion nebula, eh?) is presumably by someone with the initials KSC. It held onto fourth place for quite a while but finished sixth (234 votes):

[`Linux: Operating System of Human Species' flying out of Orion Nebula]

Derek Simkowiak didn't enter his image in the contest, but it too uses an astronomical motif and is definitely classy:

[`Linux: The Planetary Operating System' with Earth on rippled backgnd]

Bill "BearHeart" Weinman didn't get around to entering his logo, either, although he intended to. It's a wonderful retort to a slogan currently popular with a certain evil software empire:

[`Linux 2: Where Do You Want to Go Tomorrow?' with lion's eyes]

Finally, here's Alan Mackey's Linux Fox, a Linux mascot with real meaning (and real attitude), and just one example of some very cool artwork. It made an impressive come-from-behind climb and ended up in third place (280 votes):

[cartoon fox-babe wearing shades, jeans and black Linux t-shirt]

Last modified 18 February 2007.