Penguin Awareness Day - January 20th, 2009


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jan 04, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

I was riding Southwest Airlines, coming back from visiting my relatives in Pennsylvania. I picked up a copy of the airline's Spirit Magazine from the seat back pocket, and started reading about various little-known holidays. Then I noticed that "Penguin Awareness Day" is January 20th.

While "Penguin Awareness Day" officially has little to do with Linux, and there is even controversy on which day is the "official" Penguin Awareness Day, there is really no reason why we could not use this day to make people aware of our favorite operating system and Free Software in general.

A penguin is a great mascot. Before "Tux", the penguin, vendors were using platypuses and sharks to represent Linux. Tux brought a whole new dimension of possibilities, because the penguin can remind people of humans dressed in a tuxedo, and can be dressed in many national costumes.

Tux, the penguin, is instantly recognizable. In the many trade shows I have attended, a strategically placed plush Tux or a picture of Tux somewhere in the booth attracted people who were interested in Free Software solutions or Free Software itself. Having Tux on a printed advertisement or on a box usually grabs people's attention when reading a magazine or shopping in a store.

Tux is also a way to get your children involved with Free Software. Not only are there games on Linux what use Tux as a player in the game ("Tux Racer" comes to mind), but you can have them use some of the links available to learn about penguins. You can also rent a couple of penguin movies, such as "Happy Feet" or "March of the Penguins", or think about some of the cartoon penguins that have appeared over the years, such as "Chilly Willy" or "Tennessee Tuxedo".

Since January 20th is a Tuesday, most of you will be at work or school. Bring out those stuffed Tux plush toys and make sure they are visible. You might also think about dressing in black and white, putting one of the dancing penguins on your home page.

All of this also helps to prepare for April 25th, World Penguin Day, when some species of penguins migrate north for better fishing.

Whatever you do for these two penguin days, I hope you have a very happy GNU Year!

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