Hi all. I'm Jin, and I'll be working on the designs for the Stack Exchange sites as they graduate from the beta phase. Each site will have its own unique theme that will reflect its topic. However, all sites will share quite a bit of common elements so they feel like they're part of the Stack Exchange family.
First, have a great holiday season, and early congratulations on your upcoming launch out of beta!
I've been working on the design for the Unix and Linux site. I've looked at many Unix/Linux/*nix related sites for visual inspirations. I think a clean and classy design that focuses on readability and clarity would work very well for this site. Of course, this doesn't mean it needs to be boring. I've always loved the designs of computer book covers over the years. I feel a design that resembles some of those well respected books would give the site more liveliness and an authoritative look.
Here are the designs I came up with: (click to see full res versions)
For the header, I picked a drawing of Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor), the species Tux was based on. I think a combination of hand-drawn illustration and serif logo type works well for the classy and clean theme of the site.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break. I have tweaked the design based on your constructive feedback. The header section has been reworked. I have included most of the mascots in the header, thanks to @moberley for providing the links to them. I have read the copyright info on these images, I think we're OK to use them with attribution. All, except for the BSD "Beastie" Demon.
I prefer that the BSD Daemon be used in the context of BSD software. That is the reason that I carefully control my copyright of the BSD Daemon image to ensure that the image is not used inappropriately. I have agreed to allow the small image to appear on Wikipedia but not the larger ones. It is also why I am not going to put a creative commons copyright on it.
For GNU and Tux, I have picked a more cutesy version of them, found here.
Once my platypus was chosen someone suggested that we use "Hexley" as the name of the new mascot since Darwin's assistant was named Hexley. It turns out we were wrong and the person we were referring to was actually Thomas Henry Huxley. Huxley was not Darwin's assistant but was a prominent English biologist in his own right.
Puffy the OpenBSD fish found here
Here are the designs: (click to see the full res versions)
I'm still going with the original design goal, which is to have the site clean and clear. The new header gives the site more liveliness and is more inclusive to other OSes, as opposed to just Linux. For navigation, tags, badges and section header font, I used Dejavu Sans Mono, which is more representative of Unix and Linux OSes. I prefer not to use a monospace type for the actual question headers(and definitely not body text) because it would make the site harder to read.
Back to the header, I tried several different sizes of the mascot images, and I've come to the conclusion that a small size works better. It's visible enough to give the site a whimsical feel, while not being distracting. I think it's a good balance.
I kept the darker bar background for the top nav, because with the new site header treatment, I feel a more prominent topnav bar gives a clear separation of the header from the body content. I gave the top bar a faint "scanline" effect, and added "/" before the link text to make it a bit "computery."
Please let me know what you think.