Glider pattern from the Game of Life

The Linux folks have their penguin and the BSDers their daemon. Perl's got a camel, FSF fans have their gnu and OSI's got an open-source logo. What we haven't had, historically, is an emblem that represents the entire hacker community of which all these groups are parts. This is a proposal that we adopt one — the glider pattern from the Game of Life.

About half the hackers this idea was alpha-tested on instantaneously said "Wow! Cool!" without needing any further explanation. If you don't know what a glider is, or why it would make a good emblem, or if you're dubious about having an emblem at all, read the FAQs page.

I first proposed this emblem in October 2003. It has since entered fairly widespread use, as you can see by the number of international translations over on the left. Not universal, because many hackers object on principle to the idea of having an emblem at all, but it appears to be a successful meme.

What will I be saying if I display it?

When you put the glider emblem on your web page, or wear it on clothing, or display it in some other way, you are visibly associating yourself with the hacker culture. This is not quite the same thing as claiming to be a hacker yourself — that is a title of honor that generally has to be conferred by others rather than self-assumed. But by using this emblem, you express sympathy with hackers' goals, hackers' values, and the hacker way of living. See the FAQs page for further discussion.

Yes, as of a mere four days after this proposal was floated, there are mugs and T-shirts. Please note that I had nothing to do with this and I'm not getting a cut; in fact, proceeds are going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Another early merchandiser has vanished but other have filled that gap.

Who should not use this emblem?

If you think hacking is about breaking into other peoples' computers, those of us the emblem was invented for do not want you displaying it. Go invent your own emblem, cracker. We'll find some way to shame and reject you publicly if you mess with ours.

I used to have a prohibition against commercial use here. A number of people have argued convincingly that this is impractical and perhaps unfair. But keep it tasteful, or you will be flamed.

How can I use it?

The glider is not copyrighted or trademarked. The recommended way to use it is on a web page, with an image and a link back to either this page or direct to How To Become A Hacker. Here is a snippet of XHTML you can paste into a page.

<a href=''>
<img src='' alt='hacker emblem' /></a>

Here's what it will look like:

hacker emblem

Feel free to enlarge or shrink the image. This PNG file was generated from PIC source and then half-sized. You can also download an SVG version, an inlineable SVG version, an encapsulated PostScript version, or even TEX source.

Places to buy emblem stuff

I am not affilated with any of these. They are listed here as a convenience, not as endorsement. The links may go stale at any time. Use at your own risk. Your mileage may vary. Do not look into laser with remaining eyeball.


Before composing your own variant, please read the FAQs page. Here are some of the ones I've been sent:

hacker emblem hacker emblem

Here is a karamba theme to display the glider emblem on a KDE desktop.

Here is an ico version, and here is another. If you name one of these favicon.ico and put it in the document root of your website, it will become your site icon.

These tattoo images (1) and (2) are impressive, but perhaps a bit excessive.


The idea of using Life patterns as an emblem was semi-anticipated by some hackers in Argentina