Home > Fuduntu, GIMP, GNU/Linux, linux, Linux, Qimo > All in the name

All in the name

Several days ago, I wrote a blog item on the subject of Linux distribution release names and the method to the madness behind them. One comment on the previous blog by a Bernard Swiss reminded me that I had missed the best part of the Debian naming convention: “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.”

SCALE 10XIndeed. But it started me thinking that not only are the naming conventions for distro version, um, unique, but some of the names of distros themselves — and FOSS software, too — have names only a mother (and their developers) could love.

One Debian/Ubuntu-based distro I’ve always liked — Qimo — seems innocent enough, especially since it is kid-oriented. Of course, when you try to pronounce it phonetically, it comes out “chemo,” as in “chemotherapy.” Actually, that’s not the correct pronunciation for Qimo — it’s really “kim-o,” as in “eskimo,” which is the basis for the name of the this distro. I’m not making this up: The lead developer has a toddler son named Quinn, named in part because the developer Dad is a Bob Dylan fan, and hence the “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” reference is not lost on the Dylanistas among us.

Or so I was told.

Then there’s the ongoing debate about the acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program, more commonly known as GIMP. My friend Ken Starks of HeliOS fame — not exactly a paragon in the defense of politically correctness (to his credit) — has a good point when he says that GIMP is insensitive to those with movement disabilities. While I hope a name change is being considered, I would like to think they’re not doing so at the moment because they’re still working on the single-window thing.

There are two distros now out — both recent additions over the past couple of years — that cry out in harmony for a name change.

The first is DouDou. This, of course, recalls the old Marketing 101 adage about being careful about what you name your product in case it goes out of the country and into a foreign culture and language — the prime example here is the Chevrolet Nova, a hard sell in Spanish-speaking countries as “no va” in Spanish means “It doesn’t go.” (Update: According to Snopes.com, this is false, though it continues to appear in Marketing class texts. Apologies.) The Debian-based DouDou, which like Qimo is aimed at kids, is an outsanding distro that teaches youngsters the finer points of free software — the Web site says, “DoudouLinux can be lent, offered, loaned, copied as often as you want. Just like they do on the school playground! This is fully legal, so DoudouLinux is really risk free from all points of view” — and is available in a wide range of languages.

The source of the name is innocent enough, too: “Doudou” is a French word that means wubby, the teddy bear or the cloth that children carry everywhere and hug very strongly in their arms before falling asleep. But combine a distro for kids with a name that’s a juvenile homonym for feces (for the English-speaking kids anyway), and it becomes a gigglesnort-fest among the youngsters.

Another distro that might consider a name change is Fuduntu. Originally Fedora-based but later forked, Fuduntu earned its name from its ambition to fit somewhere between Fedora and Ubuntu, according to its Distrowatch listing. That’s a lofty goal, and “somewhere between” could be its goal, but there seems to be more of the “untu” and less of the “fed” in this one. Anyway, the Distrowatch listing adds that it is designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and is optimized for netbook and other portable computers, as well as general-purpose desktop machines.

But with a name that begins with FUD, it starts off having to scale a high hurdle of general appeal before it even gets out of the starting blocks. With more than 300 active distros — many of them excellent in their own right — I’m not inclined to use one starting with “FUD.” So I can pass on using it, even if it’s the best, greatest and absolutely, positively the most terrific distro in the history of FOSS.

Finally, there’s a small dynamic tiling window manager for X11 called Scrotwm. Look at that one from a different angle or two, and it become a word that only urologists and others in the medical profession would be comfortable saying in public. According to the Web site, “Scrotwm tries to stay out of the way so that valuable screen real estate can be used for much more important stuff. It has sane defaults and does not require one to learn a language to do any configuration. It was written by hackers for hackers and it strives to be small, compact and fast”

(Edit: Dru Lavigne tells me that Scrotwm is an option for PC-BSD 9, for those of you keeping score.)

Sounds interesting, and since it will probably work pretty well on CrunchBang, I’ll give it a shot. But I am not sure that I’m going to be asking anyone aloud at the LUG on Saturday, “Hey, anyone want to see my Scrotwm?”

Got an interesting name for a distro or FOSS program that I missed? Pass it on.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, in the cozy confines of his home office.)

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Categories: Fuduntu, GIMP, GNU/Linux, linux, Linux, Qimo Tags: ,
  1. January 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

    “I’m not inclined to use one starting with “FUD.” So I can pass on using it, even if it’s the best, greatest and absolutely, positively the most terrific distro in the history of FOSS.”

    That’s OK, if someone would be so petty that they would overlook a distribution simply because it’s name has the words FUD in it, we don’t want you anyway. :D

    It isn’t a high hurdle of general appeal, it’s a high degree of pettiness and arrogance.


    No offence of course.

    • January 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

      No offense taken. There are over 300 active distros, many of which already do what yours does, so what does it say to you when a distro starts off with fear, uncertainty and doubt?

      That makes someone who overlooks your distro petty and arrogant? Um, not in my book.

      “Fuduntu” probably sounded great after a couple of beers, but in the sober real world, it’s lacking. That’s me being diplomatic. Were I less than diplomatic, I’d say the name of your distro blows.

      No offense, of course.

  2. January 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Larry :
    No offense taken. There are over 300 active distros, many of which already do what yours does, so what does it say to you when a distro starts off with fear, uncertainty and doubt?

    It only says fear uncertainty and doubt because you make it say so. You are reading into it something that is not there.

    Do you see Fuduntu spelled F.U.D.untu? No, you do not.

    Do you see it called FUDuntu? No, you do not.

    This is where the pettiness comes in. The only FUD in Fuduntu is the make believe added by people that want to see it there.

    It otherwise does not exist.

    That makes someone who overlooks your distro petty and arrogant? Um, not in my book.
    “Fuduntu” probably sounded great after a couple of beers, but in the sober real world, it’s lacking. That’s me being diplomatic. Were I less than diplomatic, I’d say the name of your distro blows.
    No offense, of course.

    Perhaps the basement dwelling OSS fanatic demographic rages over the name, but to be honest I don’t really care.

    No offense, of course. :D

  3. January 4, 2012 at 8:24 am

    To expand on my previous comment a little, the people who claim Fuduntu contains or is named FUD are doing nothing more than spreading actual F.U.D. themselves, and that’s the bottom line here.

    • January 4, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Have a lot of time on our hands here, do we, Andrew? We’re going to just have to agree to disagree here, and let those out in the wide world decide whether Fuduntu, however it’s spelled, is an appealing name or not.

      • January 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

        Larry :
        Have a lot of time on our hands here, do we, Andrew? We’re going to just have to agree to disagree here, and let those out in the wide world decide whether Fuduntu, however it’s spelled, is an appealing name or not.

        Do I have time to respond to articles that make up stories about my distribution? Certainly. We can agree to disagree about the appeal of Fuduntu for sure, just to be clear, there is no FUD in Fuduntu. Unless of course your intent is jokingly, then play on. :D

      • January 4, 2012 at 11:44 am

        I don’t have to. You just did.

  4. January 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Although DouDou might be an example of not checking on pronunciation in other languages, the Chevrolet Nova is not:


    The Coca-Cola “bite the wax tadpole” one is partly true, however:


    • January 4, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for clearing that up, Tony. I stand corrected.

  5. January 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Larry :
    I don’t have to. You just did.

    Question, do you use KDE? I ask because qt was created by Trolltech which has Troll in the name. If you can’t use Fuduntu because the name has the letters F U and D I can’t imagine you could bring yourself to use KDE either because it was obviously created by Trolls. ;)

  6. plumtreed
    January 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I use Fuduntu as my ‘daily’ OS and when in the UK, I own and drive, daily, a Vauxhall Nova…..my ‘Mrs’ thinks I should drink more Coke and less beer but I think not.

    Enjoyed your article but this ‘IT’ world has too many weird names to make a feature of any of them.

  7. January 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I use Windows for some time and I never think I am advocating the use of Windows as viewing devices that can clearly see a good VISTA from my apartment,.

  8. January 5, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Coming up with cleaver names just seems to be something that developers love to do, even long before the modern FOSS movement. My fave? ScummVM! While the free application’s naming is straight forward enough (meaning “Virtual Machine for SCUMM based applications”), SCUMM itself is short for “Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion”.

    • January 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Yes, Grant — Acronyms have always been big in tech circles, and just about everything stems from an acronym. SCUMM is a good one. Thanks.

  9. Fer Servadu
    January 5, 2012 at 6:17 am

    A bit of support for Larry’s take on the Fuduntu name:

    The FUD in Fuduntu has always leaped out at me and had me scratching my head since I first became aware of the distro. I simply don’t understand why one would choose a name whose two components are so highly suggestive to Linux users: FUD (regardless of capitalization and punctuation) is a term that’s probably more familiar to Linux fans than it is to any other group of computer users, and is, needless to say, regarded negatively; and ‘untu’ suggests that the distro is an Ubuntu derivative.

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with having fun with the naming of software, and I think it’s great that lots of developers do (Con Kolivas’ BFS comes to mind). But I just don’t see the sense in branding a distro (as it appears to the uninitiated, at least) as two things it very specifically is not: F.U.D. and Ubuntu.

    I’m not the only person who finds the name baffling. And I’m sorry, Fewt, but there is nothing petty or arrogant in commenting that perhaps a better name could have been chosen for such a fine, well-regarded distro.

  10. January 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    My opinion about FOSS names and what can be done to improve the situation


    • January 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Interesting blog, DarkDuck. Most of the distro and FOSS program names are fine, and some are even unique. Only a handful need help, as I outlined. I don’t know if I’d spend $30, but rather if a developer(s) chooses to use some creativity and common sense, s/he can come up with a good name.

  11. Brobuntu
    January 12, 2012 at 4:22 am

    What’s in a name? We’d never know why a developer would choose such a bad name — if they didn’t write in to tell us. Some people not only can’t be bothered to do market research (just ask 5 or 6 (honest) people?), but they also can’t take a hint. A word to the wise is sufficient.
    Apparently there is something in the DNA (or personalities) of Linux developers which makes them bad at naming. They may feel that it is something arbitrary (unconstrained unlike the rest of the code) and therefore meaningless, but there is, of course, a whole science to naming that companies spend millions of dollars on.
    Strangely, Linus Torvalds attempted to call his early OS “Freax” but it was fortunately renamed by someone with better sense. Richard Stallman got away with calling his work “GNU” and now complains when nobody wants to use the unwieldy acronym. (Since the g is not pronounced, it may be the worst name ever, but if pronounced, at least it becomes distinctive enough.) As far as that debate goes, I think we should all agree that LINUx stands for “Linux Is Not UniX” and forget the “GNU”.
    I have to agree that I will probably never try Fuduntu and will try to avoid touching Scrotwm. Random-word-from-dictionary would have been better.
    Love GIMP but would prefer to see it renamed it as PIMP, the Photographic Image Manipulation Program, allowing users to say “pimp my image” which is already comprehensible, is catchier than “pho-to-shop my image” and much better than “gimp my image” altho it may appear insensitive to the enslaved sex workers of the world, dammit. And somehow SCUMM doesn’t scare me altho I wouldn’t want to have “Certified SCUMM Programmer” on a business card.
    If one must combine “Fedora” and “Ubuntu” I’d avoid “fud” or “fib”. “Fud(d)” also suggests Elmer Fudd to me every time I see it, connoting “fuddy-duddy”, being out-of-date, an undesirable characteristic in computer software. Most who encounter it will have the same first impression, so you’re off on the wrong foot, altho first impressions can be changed.
    A couple of random suggestions:
    FEDORA+UBUNTU (start with this)
    EOAUUU+FDRBNT (vowels + consonants. Don’t name your OS this.)
    FUDURU EBONTA (product of vowel exchange — use either or both words together in either order)
    FUBONDERONTA (doesnt really use all the same letters, but still… dontcha wanna?)
    TENBORDA [FUUDU] (TEN as in 10=completion or perfection, BORD as in smorgasbord, [omit the FUUDU as in food.] OS for hungry users)
    TORENA UBUFUD (oops. omit the FUD again. TORENA or DORENA?)
    TORA-BEN (Bullish OS for chariot racing)
    FUNTUBA (a tub of fun)
    These are all free suggestions! It’s not too late to rename Fuduntu. Heck, things get renamed all the time. Hey, HECKOVA OS? That might sound related to Mandriva, tho.

    • January 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Actually, and you may already know this, the “g” in GNU actually is pronounced — it’s “guh-new,” and not “new” as in the animal — and it is a recursive acronym meaning “GNU’s Not Unix.”

      You’re right about “Freax,” but Linux is not an acronym as you mention. Here’s the wikipedia listing on the name.

      It is unlikely that Andrew will change the name of Fuduntu, and that’s OK. If he up to bearing that cross, then so be it.

      • January 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        Why would I rename Fuduntu?

        120,347 Downloads this week (Combined ISO and Repository hits) – https://sourceforge.net/projects/fuduntu

        Fuduntu 2012.1 released Tuesday morning (1/10) – 64bit: 3,233 downloads – 32bit: 4,132

        That doesn’t account for torrents, Softpedia, or any of the other sources.

        We are doing just fine with our horrible name. :D

      • Brobuntu
        January 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm

        “Fuduntu” is not ideal, but is a very light cross to bear. It’s not “horrible”. It may even be a good thing to have an odd name. “Apple” was a laughably fruity name for a computer company. “Ubuntu” looks foreign in English where few words begin with the phoneme [uː] other than interjections such as “Oops!” After an initial moment of doubt, users may come to love Fuduntu, so good luck, Fuduntu community!

        “Linux” was catchy, and caught on, while GNU is not catchy, and didnt catch on as much; speakers prefer to drop it. If you want something to catch on, it may be a good idea to give it a catchy (pronouncable, spellable, fun-to-say, funny etc) name. Weird works sometimes, too. What I meant to say with GNU is that it could have been anything Is Not Unix {xINU}. It could have been TINU (This/TINU Is Not Unix), INU (It’s Not Unix) or even LINUx (Linux Is Not UniX) from the start. IOW, I’m proposing it as a *bacronym*. I think of GNU as a failed acronym mostly because RMS goes on about people not saying it, altho he’s the one who chose so badly.

        By the way, regarding “Qimo”, not only does chemo(therapy) come to mind, but “kimo” is also short for “kimochi warui” =”I feel sick” in Japanese, so it fails bilingually! These is also an educationally-oriented distro called “Karoshi”, =”Death by Overwork” in Japanese. Again, it may well be good, but I’ll try Edubuntu or Debian Skolelinux before Karoshi, all else being equal. There is a point where you know nothing about it but the name, and the name either intrigues you and gives you a good feeling or it repels you, but 1st impressions can be overcome.

  1. January 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm
  2. January 5, 2012 at 4:20 am

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