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20 Years of Tux Paint

A Not-So-Brief History
Part 1 - The First Year

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

June 12, 2002 — Coding begins! Inspired by a friend from a Linux Users Group who had two young children and lamented the fact that there were no kid-friendly drawing programs for Linux, Tux Paint lead developer Bill Kendrick decides "I can make something real quick." Bill had made numerous open source games for Unix and Linux, including the initial work on Tux, of Math Command under the Tux4Kids banner in late 2001. Thus, a new Tux4Kids project, Tux Paint was born!

On June 16, 2002 an initial release was made, with basic brushes, stamps, lines, eraser, and sound effects. No saving or loading pictures. No Magic tools. No printing.

Five more pre-releases occurred during that first month. They added Tux the penguin, the first few magic tools ("Blur", "Blocks", and "Negative"), saving and loading functionality, and the rudimentary localization support (with Spanish and French translations).

The next month — July 17, 2002 through August 9, 2002 — had 10 more pre-releases, including the first Microsoft Windows build. Eight more magic tools were added ("Flip", "Mirror", "Rainbow", "Chalk", "Sparkle", "Fade", "Thick", and "Thin"). Full-screen support, and a few command-line options were added (but no configuration file support yet). Translations to German and Finnish began.

Between August 12 and September 11, six more pre-releases were made. Stamps were moved to their own package, and Tux Paint offered support for coloring/tinting them. Rudimentary printing support for printing under Linux was added. Tux Paint now saves in PNG, rather than BMP. Translations to Turkish, Italian, and Dutch were made.

The rest of September and early October were very busy, with 13 more pre-releases. The Text tool and Fill (as a Magic tool) arrive. Tux Paint now prompts whether to save over an existing drawing. Printing support under Windows is added. Support is added for user-specific data files (brushes, stamps). Translations to Swedish, Icelandic, Danish, and Brazilian Portuguese arrive.

In October and early November, the documentation was converted from plain text to HTML. Translations to British English, Czech, and Korean are started (and support for locale-specific fonts was added for the latter). (Also, Tux Paint's lead developer gets married in late October!)

From here on out, releases now have version numbers. Between mid-November 2002 to late-February 2003, eleven versions arrive (0.9.0 through 0.9.10)! Tux Paint started, and at this point continues to default, to a 640×480 window. However, support for 800×600 resolution was added as an option. The first accessibility feature was added: keyboard control of the mouse pointer. And of course, we get more translations to new locales: Catalan, Chinese, Indonesian, Romanian, Greek, Polish, Japanese, Slovak, and Portuguese.

Work and life changes slowed the development cycle down a lot. The next release comes just after Tux Paint's first birthday, in mid-June 2003. We'll continue from there in Part 2.

Within this first year, many contributors who would remain active in the Tux Paint project for years to come 1 — some of whom are still helping even today — had already joined the project!

  • Pere Pujal Carabantes (2002-today)
  • Jacques Chion (2002-today)
  • Mark Kim (2002-today)
  • TOYAMA Shin-ichi (2003-today)
  • Karl Ove Hufthammer (2002-2020)
  • Thomas Klausner (2002-2014)
  • John Popplewell (2002-2014)
  • Tarmo Toikkanen (2002-2014)
  • Gabriel Gazzan (2002-2009)
  • Ben Armstrong (2002-2006)
  • Doruk Fisek (2002-2006)
  1. Current as of May 2022

Written by Tux Paint creator and lead developer: Bill Kendrick, May 2022.

Did you know? Tux Paint is not shareware, it's open source. So it's free, forever!