Decades ago, Red Hat came up with its iconic logo: Shadowman. Times change, however, and so do Linux companies. As Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst tweeted: "26 years ago, @RedHat was a scrappy startup 'sneaking' into data centers with boxed copies of a Linux-based operating system. Today, we're the leading provider of open source solutions for the enterprise hybrid cloud. We've evolved -- and so has our logo."
Red Hat isn't making this move because, as you might think, Red Hat is being acquired by IBM. And the new logo was never going to be a blue hat. As Rich Bowen, Red Hat open-source evangelist, tweeted: "Most frequent question at conferences since the IBM acquisition of Red Hat in October: Will your logo be a blue hat? 2nd: Or, will it be purple? Har, har! 3rd: What are you doing with that knife?"
Dark sense of humor aside, the real reason appeared in 2017, when, as Tim Yeaton, Red Hat executive vice president and chief marketing officer, explained: "An early 2017 survey had revealed that people saw Shadowman as 'Sinister. Secretive. Evil. Sneaky.' These respondents might not have known anything about Red Hat, but they did believe that man lurking in the shadows didn't immediately inspire their trust. In their survey responses, they wondered who he was and what he was doing in the logo."
Oops. Not good.
Now, I quite like Shadowman, but I've been at this since Red Hat co-founders Bob Young and Marc Ewing launched Red Hat from Young's wife's sewing closet. Clearly, it was time for a change.
So, Red Hat, as an open-source company, decided to undertake an evolution of the Red Hat logo -- the first in nearly 20 years "to do the work the Red Hat way, in the open," Yeaton said. This was the Open Brand Project.
The result, Yeaton thinks, "Reflects Red Hat's evolution -- from a scrappy upstart 'sneaking' into data centers with boxed copies of a Linux-based operating system (not to mention mugs and t-shirts), to the world's leading provider of open-source solutions for enterprise hybrid cloud environments... Someone working daily with the largest companies and agencies in the world to develop and run mission-critical solutions. We've truly stepped out of the shadows."
Technically, the new logo also works better. Red Hat's older logo was rendering poorly in digital formats, especially on small form devices such as smartphones.
Personally, I still like Shadowman, and I find Red Hat's new Red Hat logo rather dull. But then, Red Hat doesn't need to convince me that it's a great Linux and open-source company. I already know that. For people without a clue, it's a different story.
That said, Linus Torvalds, if you're reading this, please don't get rid of Tux.