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LOL: Will the real Linux creator please waddle up?

Who is Linus Torvalds' secret collaborator? The answer lies beneath the ice.

Prehistoric humans probably learned to hunt by watching other predators' methods. Then, they used those methods to kill the predators. If the animal predators had been smarter, they would have negotiated with the humans, offering them hunting skills in exchange for immunity from being hunted. IT pro Ryan VanderPlas shared an example of non-humans doing just that. In his Linux creation story, which I've adapted here, some cute non-humans save their species by striking crafty deals with Isaac Newton, Santa Claus and a young Finnish fellow. Read on and LOL! - Jan Stafford, editor

I'm a Linux expert, so many people think it's natural to ask me, "Why is Tux the mascot of Linux?" My response: "You are not going to believe this, but it was a agreement between Linus Torvalds and The Society of Peaceful Penguins." This surprises them, so I tell them the whole, remarkable story.

Believe it or not, The Society of Peaceful Penguins is the group that heads up the penguin civilization. Yes, my friends, penguins are smarter than humans give them credit for. Actually, they're smarter than humans. Their civilization is as old as and may be older than our own, but from the beginning the penguins had one sole mission: peace. When they found the first human tribes around the Arctic and Antarctic circles, they discovered that those tribes were violent. When they saw a war between two human tribes, they established The Society of Peaceful Penguins.

The Society of Peaceful Penguins has a main goal of keeping penguins safe from humans. They do this by not allowing humans to know that their civilization exists and brainwashing humans that penguins are just like any other animal. That's why you have not heard of The Society of Peaceful Penguins before.

Meanwhile, the penguins keep tight tabs on us. In fact, they have an intricate network of spies living in almost every major human city. Most of the secret agents live in zoos, sneaking out to spy whenever necessary.

The Society's spy network plays two purposes: to make sure that humans don't know about them; and, to make sure our technology doesn't become more advanced than theirs. Yes, penguins are way ahead of humans in computer and scientific technologies and engineering. That knowledge enabled them to build their large cities under the ice, as well as the tunnel that connects the two distant parts of their civilization.

Now, humans did create computers before the penguins did. Actually, when computers first came out, penguins thought they were weapons of war, and they decided to keep their hands off the machines. When computers started to be used for non-violent purposes, the penguins started to gain interest.

Unfortunately, the first computers they obtained ran the Windows operating system. They decided to throw out the computers because they were so prone to crashing and such time and resource wasters. Just before they threw them out, however, penguin spies overheard Richard Stallman talking about GNU. The penguins started looking at GNU, and they liked it. However, they felt that it needed improvements. Right away, they started to improve on GNU.

First of all, the penguins saw the need for a kernel and started developing it with Unix as a model. (They choose Unix as a starting point, because Unix was being used by a research scientist in a labs where penguin spies lived.)

The penguins had no intention of letting humans know of their new kernel, just as they have never let humans know anything about their mining technologies. Unfortunately, in the case of computing technologies, their intentions were thwarted by a human intruder. One day Linus Torvalds was found in the middle of a penguin city located under the ice in a part Finland. Some penguin engineer had built the ceiling too thin, and Torvalds had fallen through it.

This wasn't the first time a human had encroached on penguin civilization. Other people, including St. Nick and Isaac Newton, had found the penguin civilization. All such intruders were and are offered two options: Keep quiet about their discovery and be granted a technology of the penguins to take back to human civilization; or, be put to death. (Although penguins don't like to kill, they will kill one man to protect their whole civilization.)

Newton went home with the apple, and St. Nick got reindeer-based warp drive technologies. Obviously, since Linus is still around, he decided to keep mum and receive a technology, too. He picked the open source kernel, and the penguins shared it with him and called it Linux.

Linus, being a well-mannered fellow, told the penguins that he wanted to honor them in some way for creating this great technology. The penguins, being a wary folk, did not want the kernel tracked back to them. After all, that's why they'd chosen to name it after Linus instead of their lead engineer, whose name was Gentoo Chinstrap Penguin. (He came from a mixed marriage.) Besides,the penguins wanted to avoid litigation, which seemed to be second only to war on the list of humans' favorite recreational activities. After some negotiation with Linus, they agreed that the symbol for Linux could be a penguin. Better yet, said the penguins, the symbol should be a cartoon penguin, so people would never guess that real penguins wrote the original Linux code.

Because of Linus's generosity and good manners, the penguins also agreed to something they hadn't done before: They would continue to help humans to develop Linux. Their hope was that developing this technology would lead to humans finding the sense to drop their weapons one day. When that happened, penguins and humans could live together in peace. Since that day, a penguin spy and Linus have worked together to develop the Linux kernel. So, all the people around the globe who have working to develop Linux have been collaborating with a penguin!

Of course, you will never hear Linus speak a peep about this.

How do I know of all of this? Well that is another story, but -- now that I've told all -- don't expect to see me at a zoo anytime soon.

For more tall tales, click here.

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