With the exception of Tux, the Linux penguin, Linux fans have a reputation as a rather dour, serious lot. Now, the Linux Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to growing Linux, has launched a new Linux merchandise store featuring a line of exclusive and original T-shirts, hats, mugs and other items that reflect "geek culture."
Of course, there's been geek culture t-shirts and such for sale before. ThinkGeek has long been a favorite of mine for buying presents for friends who enjoy t-shirts with Wi-Fi detectors on them and the like. But the Linux Foundation store, rather than just trying to copycat ThinkGeek's lines or just offer generic corporate "logo T's," is trying their own take on geek pride clothes and gear.
Some of them, like the Fresh Kernel and There's No \"i\" in Linux (parse it out) t-shirts, are amusing but are clearly for hardcore Linux fans who get the in-jokes. That works for me. After all, one of my favorite geek t-shirts was one for Unix unification that read "All for one and one for all" — with 'one' and 'for' in binary.
A few of the t-shirts are really rather racy. For example, I'm not sure I'd wear the "Fork You" or "Let's Have Code Sex" t-shirts. There's also more mundane t-shirts and the like with slogans such as "Life, Linux and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The Linux Foundation is also looking for a few more good slogans with its Linux.com T-shirt Design Contest. You have until April 11, 2010, to get your designs in. The top five designs will be voted on by the Linux community through June 6, 2010, and the winning design will be produced and put on sale. The designer will win travel to Boston, Mass., to attend LinuxCon in August.
The point of all this is, according to a statement by Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation's executive director, is to support the Linux community and development. "All revenue generated from the Linux.com Store will go directly towards Linux Foundation activities, events and strategic initiatives. The Linux Foundation uses funds from a variety of revenue streams to support the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and to sustain important services such as technical events; [provide] travel grants for open-source community members; [provide] a vendor-neutral forum for projects such as MeeGo; and [make] free training resources direct from the kernel community available [to developers]."
What I like most about this new store is that it's just fun, silly stuff. I'm as guilty as anyone of taking Linux sternly and seriously. This new store reminds me that Linux can be entertaining, too. And this is a Good Thing.