Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - Unix Related Arts & Image Manipulation Software

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I re-recorded this episode and updated the original post with a transcript.

Link of the recording [ https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nixers...-10-22.mp3 http://podcast.nixers.net/feed/download....10-221.mp3 ]

Logos and artworks in the Unix world, where do those come from.
We'll try to analyse a bunch of popular Unix mascots and logos.

Throughout my research I could distinct two groups of mascots and
logos. Even though it's not fun to have a binomial vision of the world,
black and white, but this is what I found and this is mostly what it is.

# Abstract

Before starting let's state a fact: Most logos/mascots have names.

We mainly have two types of logos, the abstract type of logo and the
animal type of logo.

The abstract type is applied to the newest type of logos. There was a
sort of transition at some point, which I couldn't target, where animal
logos stopped being popular.

The idea behind those logos are not always obvious, usually fuzzy, maybe
even lacking meaning, and you have to do some research to understand
the meaning behind them.

It's abstract so sometimes you can imagine whatever you want.

Some good examples are the Ubuntu logo, a centric circle with other
circles around, it represents a group of people holding hands which
isn't that apparent.

The Manjaro logo is also pretty abstract, maybe in the form of an M.

A more discussed one is the Debian logo, which name is the "Swirl". It's
a simple brush, a GIMP brush to be precise. Debian also have a restricted,
aka only for commercial use, type of logo used for CD covers for example.
It's a sort of urn or lamp and the "Swirl" comes out of it, a genie
coming out of a lamp.

The Arch Linux logo is kind of abstract but has a meaning behind it. It's
literally an arch — pretty apparent, right?

This is a common pattern, to represent whatever the name of the software
or project into a logo or mascot.

There's a misconception that under the Arch logo lies a big fat man,
however that's just a misconception that can be put aside just by looking
into the history of the logo.

The older versions had a differently shaped curved arch, which doesn't
look like the current one. One even has Tux sliding on an arch, and yet
another one was an architectural arch with a white rabbit under it —
probably a reference to Alice in Wonderland (follow the white rabbit).

Why use an arch? The architecture of an arch is at the same type fragile
while solid. If you move one brick it falls but the structure as a whole
is solid. Good metaphor for how ArchLinux is a rolling release.

# Animals

Talking about animals like the white rabbit brings us to this second
category: animals and creatures.

The animal ones are usually older than abstract ones, with deeper and
richer history.

Let's go over some famous ones.

The Linux mascot is quite popular, Tux the penguin. The idea dates back
to 1996 during a discussion in the kernel mailing list (KML), so you can
guess it was discussed by developers and not designers. Alan Cox was
the person who brought the suggestion of having a logo. The first few
iterations they made were based on mocking other operating systems. For
example there was one that looked like the Windows logo but ended with
an L. One had a shark in it, one had an eagle, a lot of animals.

This was a big brainstorm until Linus Torvald mentioned that he liked
penguins. It settled it.

Why animals? This makes you wonder the O'Reilly books have the tradition
of adding a different animal on all their covers.

Then finally Tux the penguin was born, which was named by a dude called
James Hughes. Tux stands for Torvald's Unix, kind of self-centric.

The mascot was supposed to be chosen via a contest, which there were many,
but no one actually won any of those. So the mascot isn't really official.

The current version we see a lot online was made by Larry Ewing which
he made using the first version of GIMP v0.54.

Now let's talk about GIMP!

That little character in the GIMP icon is their mascot and it's named

It was created in 1997, around the same time as Tux, and drawn by Tuomas
Kuosmanen — with GIMP itself.

Let's move to the GNU mascot.

Same here, not much imagination, a gnu is an animal, a specie of
antelope. Maybe Richard Stallman had that in mind when coming up with
his project name, but probably not.

There are two versions of the GNU logo, the first one was drawn by
Etienne Suvasa, I didn't find the exact date of its release.

The second one dates back to 2001 and drawn by Peter Gerwinski, it's a
simplified form of the first version.

As with any logo, like the GNU logo, the goal is that if you're shown
the logo alone you can distinctively know what it's about, what project
we're talking about.

Unlike abstract art that need to be accompanied by their project name
to embody a sort of project spirit and soul.

On the same note the FreeBSD mascot has something of the sort.

Don't be confused because their current logo is an abstracted version
of their older one.

The original mascot is called beastie, a distorted pronunciation of
BSD. It's a BSD daemon but literally an evil demon — a play on word. A
little red demon holding a pitchfork.

It was drawn by John Lasseter, which used to work at Disney, in 1983
when he met with one of the early BSD developer Sam Leffler. Though
historically the mascot idea dates back to way earlier back to 1976
drawn by Phil Foglio as a payment for a locksmith job. (You can look
more into that)

Tatsumi Hosokawa drew some new version of the mascot because there were
issues with the old one which was thought to be too complex for a logo,
was too colorful, and wasn't unique to the FreeBSD community.

So in 2005 a new logo came out, drawn by Anton Gural, an abstracted
version of beastie's head, you can find it on the FreeBSD official
website. It's a 3D glossy head with horns.

However, it was mentioned that this was a new logo but not a new
mascot. FreeBSD wants and will keep beastie as its mascot.

As I mentioned, beastie wasn't used for FreeBSD only but for many BSDs.

For instance, it was used for OpenBSD.

The current OpenBSD logo and mascot is a pufferfish named Puffy but before
that, like other projects, it went through iterations of testings which
consisted of versions of beastie. Theo De Raadt assigned Erick Green to
design a more special version of it. For BSD 2.3 he was only able to do
beastie's head sort of 3D like, shown on the cover of their CD, and for
BSD 2.4 he finished the rest of the body and the pitchfork. The mascot
had an added halo over its head to personify the system's high security.

They settled for Puffy after many iterations, which fits more in the
culture, it has spikes representing the intention of OpenBSD. They also
include a set of artworks and music for every new OpenBSD release.

Beastie was also used for the Darwin OS but as of 2000 they went for a
modified version called Hexley the Platypus. It mimics the BSD daemon
by wearing a cap resembling the demon's horn and carrying a trident.

The name Hexley is a misspelling of the name Thomas Henry Huxley a 19th
century English biologist, which was a well known champion of Charles
Darwin theory of evolution, nicknamed Darwin's bulldog's.

What about Plan9?

Their mascot is also an animal. It's a little bunny called Glenda,
a reference to a movie "Glen or Glenda" which is about sex change and

It was designed by one of the Plan9 creator's wife, Rob Pike's wife,
Renee French.

The name of the OS was also inspired by a movie, Plan 9 from outer
space. So it's not surprising that the mascot is represented with a
space helmet. Renee also designed the GO programming language mascot.

# Nowadays — Conclusion

What do icons and logos mean nowadays?

More and more persons are interacting with computers it isn't like the
way it was, computer users aren't just made of a close community of
developers or hobbyist. Mascot used to be visual clues that showed you
belonged to a certain group but now it is synonym with an icon.

The icon you press on the screen to access a program. Users want
and probably need a simple design that can easily be recognized
everywhere. This partly explains the flat icon movement.

Moreover, it's so trendy that there are logos for everything, any event,
any incident, anything. Just check the next time there's an 0day or
malware or bugs spreading around. Why are we doing that? Because it's
appealing visually, it catches the eyes of normal users, it means that
the public can refer to the thing with just the logo.

Logos and artworks aren't that meaningful any more in the sense of
regrouping individuals, the central point of a group with their norms
and mentalities.

So this is it about logos and artworks, hope you enjoyed it.

There's a lot more history behind all the logos and mascot I mentioned,
I just scrapped the tip of the subject, so if you're interested go out
and look for more info and maybe even contribute to the discussion thread.

### Attributions

- `lewing@isc.tamu.edu Larry Ewing and The GIMP / CC0`
- Третий тайм by Фиорд — <http://store.southerncitylab.net/album/--15>

Messages In This Thread
Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - by venam - 19-06-2016, 10:03 AM
RE: Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - by venam - 22-10-2017, 04:33 AM
RE: Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - by pfr - 27-10-2020, 09:51 PM
RE: Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - by pfr - 27-10-2020, 10:01 PM
RE: Logos and Artworks in the Unix World - by pfr - 09-05-2021, 09:03 PM