Idea for a True Linux Logo

This was originally written in September 1995. The infamous penguin appeared sometime in 1996, rendering this idea pretty much moot. But perhaps it's still of historical interest...

Greg's collection of Linux pics triggered an e-mail query from Shin dong Jun (, who wondered about the possibility of a Powered by Linux logo similar to the FreeBSD version:

[`Powered by FreeBSD' logo]

Our hero went to look at the referenced logo and realized that, while the FreeBSD folks have a very well-recognized "trademark" (the BSD cartoon daemon), there is no equivalent for Linux. On the other hand, the concept of virtual beer is as well established in the Linux world as any vendor's graphical trademark, so Greg got to thinking that it was high time the Linux world had a visible manifestation. In fact, there already is a fairly famous `Virtual Brewery' image by J&J Imaging (a small version of which is included on the pics page), but it's relatively abstract and not really suitable for use as a small(er) icon. Greg wanted something both simpler and more obvious; this is the concept he came up with:

[Linux Virtual Beer cartoon]

The idea is to have a simple image (a beer glass with beer in it), rendered photorealistically--ideally, of a quality similar to the DNA Bell Jar or Pocketwatch images in the POV-Ray Hall of Fame. The glass is filled with a lovely, golden brew (transparent, maybe with little bubble streams rising) and has a nice, foamy head just starting to spill over one side. The glass is etched with a simple text `LINUX' logo, possibly inscribed in a circle; this isn't shown in the picture above since it's hard enough to draw by hand, much less with a mouse. (That is, the etching must not only be curved horizontally but also trapezoidally distorted vertically so as to follow the conical surface of the glass; this is easy enough to do computationally (with a height field or something) but rather nasty for a mediocre human artist.)

The `virtual' part comes in at the bottom part of the glass, which fades from fully rendered to a simple wireframe mesh (maybe green on black; not shown). Such images are nothing new (various advertisements have used similar wireframe + realistic images over the years), but it may be difficult to accomplish with a ray-tracer like POV-Ray. Then again, Greg is by no means an expert on POV-Ray or any other rendering software; it doesn't sound particularly hard in principle.

Anyway, that's the idea, and Greg is soliciting for one or more volunteers to take a stab at it. (See the main Linux pics page for some excellent results already!) Greg makes only one claim on the concept: that it remain available for any and all to render as they see fit, without fear of copyright or trademark infringement claims. In other words, the spirit of free software such as Linux itself should apply.

Greg would also like it if he and others in the freeware community were allowed to display and use the resulting image(s) for non-commercial purposes such as web pages without charge (but with appropriate attributions, of course), possibly to include incorporation into other logos such as Shin dong Jun's Powered by Linux idea:

[`Powered by Linux' prototype logo]
(Greg's cheesy prototype)

The benefits to the potential artist(s) are twofold: (1) widespread name recognition and acknowledgment within the Linux and Unix communities, and (2) the possibility of licensing the logo to advertisers and CD-ROM and magazine publishers for commercial use, once a certain level of "trademark recognition" is reached. Whether this second scenario is realistic is up to the artist to decide; Greg tends to be an optimist and not particularly clueful about business (which is why he writes free software). :-)

Anyone who thinks he or she might be interested can contact Greg at the e-mail address below (and Greg will thank you for it!). Or vote for the idea as a topic for the monthly Ray-Tracing Competition moderated by Matt Kruse. Or just do it and pass along the results!

Click here to see a nifty PNG interlacing demo, ray-traced under Linux.
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Last modified 18 February 2007 by Greg Roelofs, you betcha.