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Tux sux, and you know it!

Which is the odd one out?

Yeah, that’s right.

Regardless of any personal opinion you might have about the companies in question, Apple and Microsoft both have well designed and instantly recognisable logos. Apple’s in particular is a cultural icon. The windows logo is ubiquitous. Tux, on the other hand… Tux is an embarrassment. A childish mascot that gives off an air of lame cartoonish amateurism. Tux was probably fine, way back when. Linus Torvalds was a student with his free clone of Minix that was being used by bearded sandal-wearing geeks who, let’s be honest here, didn’t care that much about their appearance. Yes, I’m dealing in stereotypes, but it was largely true. The cool kids didn’t use Linux. It was the bespectacled weirdos who read William Gibson, listened to Rush and played Dungeons & Dragons at the weekend who were using Linux. Some of them wore t-shirts that had holes in the armpits and only got their hair cut when concerned relatives insisted on it. For these folks Tux was fine. They got a plush version and put it on their book-shelf next to their plush Cthulhus and Star Trek technical manuals.

Now Linux is becoming a household name and is seen as the socialist’s free alternative to the capitalist dominance of Microsoft Windows and the new-(w)age cult of Apple, it kinda needs something better than a cuddly penguin that says nothing whatsoever about the operating system and just sits there looking like something that helps pre-schoolers with maths.

The majority of the most popular distributions of Linux available today have better logos than Tux, the problem with them is that they only represent that particular distribution of Linux. What we need is a universal logo for Linux. One that says “LINUX” to the world without featuring a cartoon animal or looking like the preserve of people who wear Hush-Puppies and carry a multi-tool strapped to their belt even when they are shopping for groceries.

I’m not a great artist. I’m not even a good artist. I could probably come up with something better than Tux if I put my mind to it, but it wouldn’t be good enough to garner support from the curmudgeonly geeks that populate the Linux world. I’ve always suspected that many of the are secretly against the mainstream popularity of Linux as they feel that Linux is “their” OS, and Tux is “their” mascot and they don’t want folks messing with the inherent image of “their” Linux. These are probably the same folks that look down on anyone who uses a windowed desktop.

What I advocate is this: We have a competition to design a new universal logo for Linux. First prize will be to see your logo everywhere in a few years.

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