Penguin as logo/mascot for Linux was discussed first in early 1996 by several people in the linux-kernel mailing list. The idea of such mascot came from Alan Cox first. Among many other suggestions made by different people there were parodies of other operating system logos, sharks or even eagles.
At some point Linus Torvalds casually mentioned that he was rather fond of penguins and it stopped the debates at once.
The first person called the penguin “Tux” was James Hughes who said that it stood for “(T)orvalds (U)ni(X)”. Tux was designed for a Linux logo contest.
Re: Linux Logo prototype
Linus Torvalds (email@example.com)
Thu, 9 May 1996 17:48:56 +0300 (EET DST)
Somebody had a logo competition announcement, maybe people can send their ideas to a web-site..
Anyway, this one looks like the poor penguin is not really strong enough to hold up the world, and it’s going to get squashed. Not a good, positive logo, in that respect..
Now, when you think about penguins, first take a deep calming breath, and then think “cuddly”. Take another breath, and think “cute”. Go back to “cuddly” for a while (and go on breathing), then think “contented”.
With me so far? Good..
Now, with penguins, (cuddly such), “contented” means it has either just gotten laid, or it’s stuffed on herring. Take it from me, I’m an expert on penguins, those are really the only two options.
Now, working on that angle, we don’t really want to be associated with a randy penguin (well, we do, but it’s not politic, so we won’t), so we should be looking at the “stuffed to its brim with herring” angle here.
So when you think “penguin”, you should be imagining a slighly 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.