What's in a Name? In the Linux World, Much Silliness
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as Shakespeare's Juliet so famously said, but what if its name were Pink Farting Weasel?
It may be a little-known fact, but that was actually the moniker given to versions 2.6.23-rc4 through 2.6.23-rc6 of the Linux kernel, which is perhaps just as notable for its zany naming conventions as it is for its powerful software.
The Linux world as a whole tends toward the silly or at least light-hearted when it comes to naming versions and releases, in fact. Ready for a break from the serious? Here's a quick tour of some of the more entertaining examples.
Yes, “Pink Farting Weasel” really is one example in a very long list of what you might call highly creative names that have been bestowed upon Linux kernel releases over the years. I remember reading about the inspiration behind last year's “Flesh-Eating Bats with Fangs,” but others are harder to fathom. “Greased Weasel” was the first; later we saw “Zonked Quokka,” “Woozy Numbat,” “Sliding Götterdämmerung,” “Homicidal Dwarf Hamster,” and “Man-Eating Seals of Antiquity,” among many more. Prepare for some serious head-scratching if you dare peruse the full list on Wikipedia.
[Related: From Warthog to Pangolin: Up Close With Ubuntu Mascots]
Newcomers to Linux are often first struck by the strange names given to the various releases of Ubuntu Linux, however, which traditionally has been the most popular distribution for beginners. Most recently we've had “Maverick Meerkat,” “Natty Narwhal,” and “Oneiric Ocelot,” for example; coming up next will be “Precise Pangolin.” There's actually a long line of such wacky mascots for Ubuntu releases, in fact, going back to the distribution's first “Warty Warthog” release back in 2004. Want to see the full lineup of all 16, complete with pictures? Then check out my recent close-up look. You won't be disappointed.
Underlying Ubuntu, of course, is Debian, which many consider the granddaddy of all Linux distributions. Though not based on animals, Debian release names tend to exhibit a silliness all their own. Beginning with the inaugural “Buzz” release of Debian back in 1996, other fun examples over the years have included “Potato,” “Woody,” and “Sarge.” Most recently, we've seen “Lenny” and “Squeeze”; coming up next is “Wheezy.” Serious software? You bet. Serious names? Not so much.
Fedora Linux may be related to the business-focused Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but that doesn't mean it has to stick to serious or formal names itself. Cases in point: “Moonshine,” “Werewolf,” and--coming up--“Beefy Miracle.” Why be boring, right?
Linux Mint--currently the No. 1 distribution out there--is notable for its use of women's names for its various releases, but we can't forget to consider the names of the distributions themselves as well. A quick scan down the DistroWatch popularity list is a good reminder of all the naming fun that has been had over the years, giving us the likes of Puppy Linux, Gentoo, ArchBang, CrunchBang, Clonezilla, DoudouLinux, and Yellow Dog Linux, to name just a few. And don't forget Tux, the official Linux mascot.