Honor Thy Tux: Linux Membership Drive Is for the Birds

In honor of the open source operating system's longtime penguin mascot, the Linux Foundation is taking a conservation-friendly approach to its latest membership drive.

In honor of the open-source operating system’s longtime penguin mascot, the Linux Foundation is taking a conservation-friendly approach to its latest membership drive.

The world of open source is making a fresh contribution to wildlife conservation.

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps to organize the community around the popular open-source operating system, is using its latest membership drive to help penguins—a cause near and dear to the hearts of developers worldwide because Tux, the Linux mascot, is one.


About Tux: In 1996, members of the Linux community, inspired by OS creator Linus Torvalds’ love of penguins, worked on a set of penguin-based logos for the product. “As to why use a penguin as a logo? No good reason, really,” Torvalds explained in a May 1996 email. “But a logo doesn’t really [h]ave to mean anything—it’s the association that counts. And I can think of many worse things than have Linux being associated with penguins.” Technically, Larry Ewing’s Tux (shown above), the image closely associated with the operating system, is considered a mascot, not a logo, because it lost the logo contest held at the time. But over time, Tux’s cuteness won over community members.

A well-considered perk: Clearly inspired by the mascot’s long history with the community, the Linux Foundation decided that its holiday membership drive would benefit the work of the World Wildlife Fund to protect emperor penguins. Between now and December 10, the Linux Foundation will donate $25 to the WWF for each new member who signs up. Climate change poses a threat to the survival of the species, the tallest and largest birds in the penguin family. “The Linux community is massive and together can accomplish anything. This has been proven time and time again,” Linux Foundation COO Mike Woster said in a statement. “We hope this year’s Holiday Individual Membership Drive can bring to bear the tremendous power of the community to help advance Linux while supporting another important cause this holiday season: the future of the emperor penguin.”

The $99 individual membership fee ($25 for students) supports Linux, too. The money helps to fund the future of the open-source project, ensuring the widely used software (which, among other things, is common in the world of servers and used by millions of Android phones) has plenty of development resources.

What’s the most inspired membership drive you’ve come up with? Let us know in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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