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Who wrote Linux? King Tux, Elvis & Batman tales are finalists, part one

Three tall tales topped 150 others entered in our "Who Wrote Linux?" contest. Prepare to chuckle! Then, cast your vote for your favorite.

My vote went to the tale of the alien stripper with a bong. After all, pointing out the absurdity of all the stolen code claims against Linux was the idea behind the "Who wrote Linux?" contest. What's more absurd than my choice? But my fellow judges disagreed.

The judges (five anonymous TechTarget editors) didn't come to blows. Let's just say we had some heated discussions. That's because we received almost 150 truly inspired Linux creation stories. They're fantastic. We loved them all. But, for pete's sake, don't send any more!

Here, in two installments, are our four finalists. Help us choose our winner by voting for your favorite. As promised, we will be publishing all the entries in weekly installments, probably for the next 20 years.

According to Jason:

Holy intelligent penguins, Batman!

After Batman defeated Penguin in their epic battle, a couple of hundred heavily armed, self aware, mind-controlled penguins were left to their own devices. These penguins, realizing that the encroachment of law enforcement upon their hideout was now imminent, packed up the systems responsible for providing their intelligence and made for sea. However, the systems could hardly be considered portable and suffered regular crashes -- having been built atop Microsoft Windows.

The penguins, frustrated with the unreliable systems headed for the North Pole, programming, as they went, a new operating system meant to be a thousand times more reliable, a thousand times more powerful, a thousand times faster and (most importantly) a thousand times smaller. All of this was done with the intention of one day returning to exact cruel vengeance on those who brought them shame. An elite army of highly-mobile, highly-intelligent, and highly-efficient penguins were determined to rule the world!

It is fortunate for mankind that the absence of the penguins did not go unnoticed by law enforcement. Indeed, the U.S. Navy tracked the foul waterfowl down before they had a chance to make it to the North Pole where they intended to regroup and reinforce. A great battle ensued. Loss of life on both sides was high; but, in the end, the Navy prevailed, and the penguins were defeated.

Nearly a month later, a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds was taking a break from his school work. He decided to go for a walk along the shore and take in some air. It was then that he discovered the carcass of one of the penguins, and it had a computer system strapped to its back. Over the coming months Linus reverse engineered the code and republished it as Linux.

This is the true origin of both Linux and its Mascot. We, the penguins, were the true developers of Linux. And those of us who have survived will soon have our vengeance on Batman. We will have our vengeance on you! Enjoy your Linux while you can!

To vote for this story, send an e-mail to the editors. Please include your name and a few words about why you chose this story.

According to Dave Crossley:

In the summer of 1979, I was hitchhiking through Pennsylvania on my way to New York. I was walking along a lonely stretch of route 9 beyond Stroudsburg when suddenly the sky lit up like it was daytime and a round saucer-shaped ship landed with a thud, its stork like legs straddling the highway. Curious, I approached the still-cooling starship only to see a stairway emerge from underneath.

I was paralyzed with fear. Would I be the first earthman to encounter alien creatures? What did they look like? Would they be friendly? Would they eat me? Then emerging from the belly of the craft, I spied the cuffs of a pair of Rhinestone bellbottom trousers. Soon, the alien came into view -- but it was no alien! It was the King of Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley!

"Well, man, I'm bummin'," he said. "You know how to fly a spaceship?"

At that moment, I don't know what possessed me, but I lied and said that yes, I did know how to fly a late-model General Entropy Mark VII CometShip. "If the drug-addled King of Rock n' Roll can do it," I thought, "why can't I?" And I followed him onto his ship.

It took me a while to get the saucer off the ground, but the controls were large and colorful and many had little balloons attached to them explaining briefly what they did, so I quickly got the hang of flying her. It was somewhat like driving a Mac truck: very large and ungainly. When I commented on this, the King of Rock n' Roll said he was working on it and took me over to show me what he had on his "computing-machine."

Elvis explained to me that he'd been introduced to spacefaring aliens from the planet Gnomus by Henry Kissinger at the same time that he'd gone to the Whitehouse to meet Nixon, who had made him an honorary DEA agent and given him a badge and silver whistle which he proudly displayed to me. While touring the alien's spaceship, he had shared a baggie-full of Qualuudes with the visitors from the planet Gnomus. They were so impressed that they offered to trade their ship, lock, stock and barrel for Elvis' remaining quantity of 'luudes.

The spaceship was flown to Graceland and remained there until the late seventies, when Jim Morrison happened by and saw it. He talked Elvis into faking his own death ("It's Easy!" he said) and going on a road trip. They had many exciting adventures in the ensuing months. Elvis lost Morrison somewhere around the Dog star, or maybe it was the Planet of really Lonely Amazons, but in the meantime, he'd gotten a great deal of familiarity with the ship and its components.

One night, at the Astro-celebrity-Bar, Elvis got into a fight with George Jetson. Jetson prevailed and left a dent in the King's forehead that put him out for days. When he awoke, he found that he had come up with an idea that would make his ungainly spaceship drive like a Cadillac Deville.

He called his idea "LINUX," a concatenation of the words "luxury" and "interface." He hadn't finished it yet when I met him, but he assured me that once he'd replaced the old Mark VII Comet Ship embedded system with his interface, his "operating system" as he called it, the thing would drive like "riding on a cloud, man." He went into great detail about what he'd written, although in 1978, I knew virtually nothing about computers, so it was all Greek to me, especially the part about the "kernel." I thought he was talking about Tom Parker!

I never saw the King of Rock n' Roll after that night. He obligingly dropped me off in New York the following morning. Years later, however, I encountered a variant on his work in a bookstore and fondly remembered the night that I'd met the Man Who Wrote LINUX.

To vote for this story, send an e-mail to the editors. Please include your name and a few words about why you chose this story.

Click here to read the other finalist's story.

For more information:

Who wrote Linux? The spy who loved Linux

Who wrote Linux? I did! No, Harry did! Or, was it the monkey?

Dig Deeper on Linux servers

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