Tux Racer is a freeware 3D computer game starring the Linux mascot, Tux the penguin. In the game, the player controls Tux (or one of three other characters) as he slides down a course of snow and ice collecting herring. Sliding on ice makes Tux go faster, while sliding on snow allows for more maneuverability and sliding on rocky patches will slow Tux down. There are also trees to block Tux's path and flags for sake of marking out the course.


The left/right steering controls are typical of a racing simulation game, except that the up arrow key causes Tux to “paddle” with his flippers. Correct use of the paddle command is essential to getting good race times. Paddling slows Tux down when at a high speed but speeds him up at slow speeds. Paddling when in mid-air may also be used to increase the length of a jump. Jumps can be caused by the shape of the landscape or by holding down the "energy" key (usually e) and releasing it. Releasing the key when a jump is imminent will naturally make a larger jump. Versions with other controls instead of keyboard exist; for example, wiimote[2] and an arcade version with a steering wheel.

Points are also scored by collecting herring that are scattered along the various courses. In order to progress to the next level of the game you have to both collect sufficient herring and reach the end of the course within a preset time limit. Like many open-source games, the replay value of Tux Racer is extended by easy modification of the game. New maps can be created by making three raster images to indicate height, surface, and object placement.


Tux Racer was originally developed by Jasmin Patry, a student attending the University of Waterloo (UW) in Ontario, Canada, who aimed to begin a career in the video game industry by pursuing a computer systems analyst (CSA) degree.[3] Development of the game as a project began in August 1999 as a final computer graphics project in Computer Graphics Lab (CGL).[3][4][5] The game was completed and presented in three days; a webpage for the game was then started, when one of Patry's classmates, having enjoyed the presentation, suggested he released the software as open source.[3][5] Patry felt releasing the game as open source "made sense" due to Tux being the mascot for Linux, an open source software, and continued to work on the game throughout the year. so he decided to continue working on the software throughout the year, hoping fellow students would join in on developing the game.[3]

In December 1999, Patry and his former classmates Patrick Gilhuly, Eric Hall, Rick Knowles, Mark Riddell, and Rob Kroeger announced the foundation of the company Sunspire Studios to develop a video game project.[3] Patry stated the game "would feature a massively multiplayer, persistent universe with real-time strategy and first-person shooter components," "[...] something that would make the Quake 3 or Unreal engine look tame in comparison."[3] Fine arts undergraduate classmate Roger Fernandez was chosen as the artist; however, the project was eventually abandoned due to limitations in current graphical software.[5] In August 2000, Knowles suggested the company resume working on Tux Racer, which became their first official project.[3][5] The game was released as free software under the GNU General Public License on October 2, 2000.[1]

Commercial version

In August 2000, Patry and his two friends Rick Knowles and Mark Riddell announced the development of an enhanced version of Tux Racer under a closed source commercial license.[3][5] In 2001, a demo version of the software was included with a January 2001 issue of PC Gamer.[5] In 2002, the game was released for Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Patry states that had the game sold better, ports for the Nintendo GameCube and Xbox would be "fairly logical" choices.[3]

In 2003, Sunspire Studios ceased business. Their Internet domains[6] are now commercially cybersquatted. According to, there had been no significant changes to their site since September 22, 2002, when the Tux Racer 1.1.1 Linux Patch was released.[7] It appears that the site continued to exist almost unchanged until 2004. Their demo of version 1.1 can still be downloaded.[8]


Despite the game ceasing production, certain forks of Tux Racer exist, including Open Racer, an open source fork of the original Tux Racer created by Nathan Matias for SourceForge in 2001;[9] this version was eventually abandoned. A fork entitled PlanetPenguin Racer, an enhanced version of the GPL-licensed version of Tux Racer, was created;[10] however, it was discontinued in 2006, with the latest release being in 2005.[11] A new project based on PlanetPenguin Racer entitled Extreme Tux Racer was developed on March 2007, and is currently in development.[12] An arcade redemption game entitled Tux Racer Arcade has been released by Roxor Games; a sequel entitled Tux 2 Arcade has also been released, featuring four courses and four characters from the commercial version, namely Tux, his friend Trixi, a female penguin, Boris, a bear, and Samuel, a seal.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tux Racer for PC. IGN. Retrieved on March 24, 2010
  2. Rosenlund, Roger (2008-10-15). "World of Vårdcraft" (in Swedish). NyTeknik. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Yarwood, Arthur J. (2002). Interview with Jasmin Patry from Sunspire Studios. Tuxracer Belly Rub. Retrieved on 2010-03-29
  4. University of Waterloo CS488/688 1998-1999 Gallery. University of Waterloo (2000-03-09). Retrieved on 2010-03-22
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Ganthan, Durshan (2000-11-03). An equation for success - Waterloo grads create fun-filled game for all. Imprint. Retrieved on 2010-03-23
  6. Sunspire Studios
  7. Tux Racer
  8. FilePlanet: Tux Racer 1.1 Demo (Linux)
  9. Matias, Nathan J. (2001-08-02). Tux Racer to be closed source - GPL Project Continues. Linux Today. Retrieved on 2010-03-27
  10. Jackson, Jerry, O'Brien, Kevin & Baxter, Andrew (2007-10-25). Asus Eee PC Initial Hands On and Video Review. Notebook Review. Retrieved on 2010-03-29
  11. Projects@PlanetPenguin :: Racer
  12. Extreme Tux Racer