Sharp-eyed observers may have noticed a slightly unusual patch which was merged into the mainline kernel on March 17. It’s a new mascot for the kernel; among other things, this image is shown at boot time for a number of configurations. For many a year, the mascot has been Tux the penguin. For 2.6.29, though, Tux will be taking a break while “Tuz” steps in.
Tuz is most emphatically not a penguin. Those who look closely will see that the kernel’s stand-in mascot is, instead, a Tasmanian devil wearing a penguin mask. Tuz began his career as the mascot for the 2009 edition of the linux.conf.au  conference, held in Hobart, Tasmania. So why is Tuz moving on to the mainline kernel?
It turns out that Tasmanian devils are currently endangered by an especially nasty form of communicable cancer. The lca2009 organizers decided to dedicate the event’s traditional charity auction to the cause of helping research into this disease. This auction surpassed everybody’s expectations, raising some AU$40,000 for the campaign to save the devil.
In the process, it also treated attendees to the sight of Linus Torvalds shaving Bdale Garbee’s beard .
After returning home, Linus decided to help raise awareness of the Tasmanian devil’s plight by bringing in Tuz for a kernel cycle.
There are a lot of reasons why developers create open source software. Beyond the fact that it’s simply fun, many of us are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place. The strong support in the development community for causes like the Tasmanian devil shows that this desire to improve the world goes beyond the creation of great, free software. It’s something we can all be proud of.
(See the “Save the Tasmanian Devil” site  for more information on this effort and how to help).