That’s my name, don’t wear it out

December 30, 2011

Katherine Noyes put together a brief piece for PC World today about Linux release names which, overall, she seems to consider “silly.” In the process, she omits a great bit of detail on the “what” and “why” aspect of distro communities and how they come up with these “silly” names.

Digitally speaking, from a purely anthropological standpoint it is far from silly, and actually it’s quite an interesting topic, though Noyes seems to race through it without giving much detail.

So let me help out here.

SCALE 10XDebian: Release names come from “Toy Story.” As humorous as it is simple, this naming convention is one of the best. An interesting corollary to this is the Debian-based CrunchBang naming convention mirrors the first letter of the current Debian release, but matches it with a character from “The Muppet Show.” So Debian “Squeeze” is translated in CrunchBang to “Statler. “Wheezy” begets “Waldorf.” Statler and Waldorf, of course, are the two old guys in the balcony in “The Muppet Show.”

Linux Mint: I particularly like the naming convention Clement Lefevbre has come up with for Linux Mint. It’s alphabetically a woman’s name ending in “a.” We’re at Julia now. I asked Clement once what he’d do when he got to “Zelda” (or whatever the “Z” name will be for Linux Mint when they get that far . . . and they will), and he said that it was simple: Start with a name beginning with “A” and end the name in “e.”

Ubuntu: We all know the drill here — SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth comes up with an adjective and an animal with the same first letter and hands it down to a waiting community. Which is in complete contrast to . . .

Fedora: There is a formula here that the Fedora Project adheres to before all hell breaks loose and fistfights break out in the Fedora community while they vote on the release name. The formula is simple: “$CURRENT_RELEASE_NAME is a (whatever it is — i.e., city, body of water, person, thing) and so is $NEXT_RELEASE_NAME.” Looking at Fedora 15 “Lovelock” to the current Fedora 16 “Verne,” it goes like this: James Lovelock was a futurologist, and so was Jules Verne. Now how they got from Verne to Fedora 17’s “Beefy Miracle” is a mystery for the ages.

OpenSUSE: OpenSUSE’s naming convention . . . does OpenSUSE even have a naming convention for releases?

Got a distro that has a naming convention worthy of mentioning? Let me know.

*Self-appointed benevolent dictator for life, for those of you keeping score at home.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office.)

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  1. eMBee
    December 31, 2011 at 7:01 am

    getting from Verne to Beefy Miracle is a miracle of course.

    actually it was a secret plot to get jono bacon to admit that he is a fedora fan:

    • December 31, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Yeah, like that will ever happen . . .

      An aside: Every time the nominations come up for Fedora release names, Bacon is always a candidate, and Bacon always fails to make the final ballot because there are legal conflicts (software/hardware companies with Bacon in their title).

  2. Bernard Swiss
    December 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You neglected the cleverest bit about the Debian release naming formula. The “Unstable” branch — the one under development to become the next “Stable” release — is always called “Sid”, named after another Toy Story character; the boy next door, who breaks all the toys.

    • December 31, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      You are right, Bernard. Thanks for pointing that out.

  1. December 31, 2011 at 10:37 pm
  2. January 4, 2012 at 6:19 am
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