What’s in a Name?

With Knoppix at least they named the distros differently. With KDE and Gnome, taking the first letter of the names was good enough. But Ubuntu and those using it have developed a silly idea and are trying desperately to make it ‘cool’. Unfortunately, most people seem to agree with them that this naming convention is just that…cool. My stomach turns…

I disagree with this notion of ‘cool’. I think it is silly and unprofessional. For those that have no idea what I’m speaking of, please take special note of the names of the following distros:

  1. Edubuntu
  2. Kubuntu
  3. Ubuntu
  4. What next?

Perhaps some of you may think I’m being harsh. I don’t think so. Adding oddly named distros of Linux that are so similar in name have a chance of confusing the general public. Is there anything to stop these projects from popping up? Will there be derrivatives such as Gamebuntu or other such oddities as GovBuntu or Serverbuntu/Mailbuntu in months and years to come? Not if good taste comes into play. I defeatedly will wait for Pornbuntu to come out sometime in the next few years (ok…perhaps I’m stretching, but you should get the picture). Why didn’t Canonical just name it Ubuntu – Education Edition, Ubuntu – KDE Edition, or something along those lines. Why try to make it ‘cool’ to have Ubuntu inside that new name for the new project? Why Why Why?

John Dvorak wrote something similar about Microsoft and Windows Vista and while I don’t really like his, let’s say, journalistic flair; in this case I found his article entertaining and funny. It seems silly when you take that article into consideration. Ubuntu is approaching this version naming fiasco. Hopefully, someone will put the breaks on it. Don’t get me wrong. I like Ubuntu. It’s doing wonders for spreading the word on Linux. Because of Ubuntu’s popularity it is bringing minions of people to its banner and other distributions are probably seeing increased numbers flocking to use them as well. Just getting those influx of new users makes using Linux exciting right now. Let’s just NOT show them how corny we can be by continuing to make silly names for Ubuntu derrivatives.

Imagine if slackware or debian did the same? You’d have Kebian, Klackware, Gnackware, EduSlackware, EduDebian, and combinations of the like. Anyone want to give Gameslack a try? How about Gamian, the Debian gaming Distro? It seems silly when you look at things this way. So, hopefully someone out there that has some pull within Ubuntu is reading. Hopefully, they take this constructive criticism to heart. Hopefully, they don’t continue to insist that it is ‘cool’ to have ubuntu in the name of things because, honestly, it just isn’t.

Do you have an opinion? If so, please let me know and leave a comment below.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

15 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”

  1. “Adding oddly named distros of Linux that are so similar in name have a chance of confusing the general public.” If Ubuntu wants to name their product “Fusilanimous Ubuntu Distribution Consisting Of Nonsensical Names”, (FUDCONN for short), what’t to stop them? If you want to complain about “silly” names, look at some of the FOSS application names.

  2. Devnet, like most of the few other articles I have read of yours, the point flies so far over your head that you don’t even hear the faint whistling sound of the completely obvious. I am not trying to call you stupid or anything, but I think more research is needed on your part before you run off and write your little 2 page opinion pieces.

    First of all, Ubuntu is not just a cool little buzz-word Mark Shuttleworth thought up one day. It is an ancient African word meaning Humanity to Others (as clearly stated on the Ubuntu webpage, if you care to look). Essentially, Mark took this same concept and applied it to software…specifically his Linux Distribution, hence the name.

    One of Mark Shuttleworth’s major goals is to help the fledgling education system in South Africa. The man is a multi-millionaire (close to billionaire actually) and almost all of his money goes to charities and various foundations he has set up to help him achieve this goal. He has even written every penny of his money off to these foundations in his will, that is how dedicated he is.

    He wants to take this concept of Ubuntu and apply it to a custom distribution aimed directly and specifically at the education system in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. He is using the Ubuntu distribution as a base for this. So, Edubuntu is Mark Shuttleworth’s humanity to others, or, specifically, to the education system, which is in debt and barely has enough money for textbooks, let alone expensive software in parts of the world.

    Humanity Towards Others + Education = Edubuntu.

    As for kubuntu, a little *research* on your part would have caused you to become aware of the fact that kubuntu is not maintained by Canonical, but instead by the Ubuntu community. So it doesn’t matter how much pull anyone has at Ubuntu, kubuntu is someone else’s project.

    If, instead of criticizing others while doing nothing useful yourself, you had taken the time to actually read some of the interviews with Shuttleworth, you would know that a distro of Ubuntu designed for games, porn or anything of the sort is not a goal of his. Specifically, his goals are a distro targetted at education and a distro targetted at the desktop. It is these two goals that he has spent millions of dollars working towards, including writing a lot of the education software available for Linux.

    Seriously, save yourself the embarrassment and pull this blog posting, before someone posts it to the Ubuntu IRC and some more people come and make you feel and look really stupid, much more so than I am capable of doing. Just a word of advice.

  3. Case in point:

    gftp, gedit, kdict, kgpg, devhelp, amsn, gwget, gaim, leafpad, liferea, etc.

    To a normal, non-technical person, these all look ridiculous.

  4. “It is an ancient African word meaning Humanity to Others”
    This isn’t my point. The point is that no other distro on the planet is re-branding itself using it’s own name…this strikes me as odd and perhaps even being a bit full of oneself. I’m not saying its wrong of Canonical, I’m just saying its silly and can be confusing for new users.

    “As for kubuntu, a little research on your part would have caused you to become aware of the fact that kubuntu is not maintained by Canonical”
    Regardless of who maintains what…the fact of the matter is that Ubuntu is still used in the name. Hence, Canonical is responsible for allowing usage of that name. Afterall, they used said name first right? Whoever owns or maintains the distro isn’t important to my point. Whoever allows the name usage is.

    “If, instead of criticizing others while doing nothing useful yourself”
    This is a bit on the offensive on your part isn’t it? Afterall, you have no idea where I’ve been or what I’ve done. For all you know, I might have authored 2-3 distros in the last 10 years. Here’s a little FYI: I have given to open source continuously since 1994 when I discovered IRC at college and then subsequently, Slackware Linux. As for this blog offering nothing, I post tips and tricks and reviews…why don’t you read a few more categories here before you take on a prejudicial persona and label it ‘crap’.

    “Seriously, save yourself the embarrassment and pull this blog posting”
    I posted my opinion and nothing more. People have the right to disagree with me if they want to. I’m sure some people will also agree. Whatever people think is ok with me. We are all diverse and are allowed to express ourselves…afterall, that’s what humanity towards others is all about right?

    “gftp, gedit, kdict, kgpg, devhelp, amsn, gwget, gaim, leafpad, liferea, etc.”
    All of these are not operating systems. Hence they cannot be compared. However, I do agree that they would probably look odd to a non-technical person. But for the sake of my little opinion piece, since they aren’t distros, they don’t get a place.

  5. I really don’t feel comfortable mentioning names like these in public. They *do not* sound professional nor even geeky. They just sound silly.

    I can’t fathom why these names were chosen. Do they mean something to South Africans? Do they get it?

  6. Ah, because South African Distros should bend over backwards to make sure their naming sounds appropriate to American users. Forget Asianux, it should be called Chinesenix, right?

    As for why these names were chosen, at least try to view the webpage of the project, where it is posted in huge letters right on the homepage exactly why the name was chosen 🙂

    Besides, the software is GPL’d. If you don’t like the name of it, simply change it. If it were such a huge issue, someone would have done so already.

  7. Further research would have shown that Kubuntu in fact means something to “to humanity” in, I believe, Xhosa. So it was serendipitous that adding a K gave something meaningful.

  8. Man, aren’t you Ubuntu users uppity. I can’t believe someone actually asked for an _opinion_ piece to be removed. Get over yourselves.

  9. What’s next is *Skubuntu*, a distro containing educational programs, which I read about yesterday.


  10. I dont see the reason why you wrote your last entry.

    You said: “adding an odly name to a distro of Linux” Is there a rule to follow in order to put a name to a Linux distro? I am not aware of such thing. What is there to like or dislike? Is it the content(code) the most important part? Aren’t we in a open source environment?

    What is the difference between Ubuntu, Mandriva, Debian, Gentoo, Knoppix? in terms of name? I dont see how a new user can get confuse.

  11. I don’t see why you wrote your last comment. 🙂 I’m not criticising the right of a distro to name itself whatever it wants. I understand it’s going to happen. I don’t have to agree with the names they choose though and can voice an opinion on it.

  12. “Imagine if slackware or debian did the same? You’d have Kebian, Klackware, Gnackware, EduSlackware, EduDebian, and combinations of the like. Anyone want to give Gameslack a try? How about Gamian, the Debian gaming Distro? It seems silly when you look at things this way.”

    Actually most of those sound cool. I would love a Klackware or Gamian. Of course, I like Kubuntu too.

    The point you are missing is that Ubuntu is for fun. Its for people that think that computers or OSes can be fun. Its the way Mark spends his money to have fun. In Linuxland there are other more serious projects for people like yourself (like SUSE LINUX Professional 9.3 or Red Hat Professional Workstation) that want Linux in a non fun context. Ubuntu is for the light hearted that wants a computer to be fun. THATS why there is now a Edubuntu, and there won’t be a “Ubuntu Enterprise Edition” till the next release. To help children have fun with computers first, then the stuffy no fun suits!

  13. While I do agree that this post is mostly irrelevant, I also know that a person has a right to post whatever the heck they feel like on their own blog. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. That is what is so funny to me, you people claim to be so offended by what this guy writes, yet you keep coming back for more. Have your say, agree, disagree, but for God’s sake, don’t tell a man he doesn’t have a right to his opinion on his own page.

    And what is my opinion? Like I said before, I find it irrelevant and I really could care less about what people name there distros, just don’t expect me to buy into it with some sucky name.

    I do find the names mentioned in the post to be a bit too cutesey. If you really want to attract new users you have to make it attractive to them in all aspects and that is a point that OS developers, designers and whoever would do well to remember.

    That’s my opinion Devnet, since you asked for it, thank you, and if you other people don’t like it-well there’s this little X in the top right-hand corner of your screen . . . . .

  14. ” but I think more research is needed on your part before you run off and write your little 2 page opinion pieces.”

    Why do you include the word “little” in your critique of Devnet’s opinion?

    “If, instead of criticizing others while doing nothing useful yourself…

    Do you have the slightest clue of who this guy is? That’s a rhetorical question so just let it float buy. Devnet is one of our premiere Linux Writers/Critics/Advocates. He spends hour upon hour working on projects such as the PCLinuxOS Wiki and doing highly technical reviews of hardware and software for the Linux system.
    It seems you must belittle someones work in order to justify you particular shortcomings.

    Seems you may be afflicted with the Rush Limbaugh syndrome. Many people hate Rush because he is confident in his opinions and abilities. Some people find that behavior threatening. Please post a link to your blog or web page by which you strive to improve GNU Linux. We would be thrilled to see your contributions.

  15. Really I fail to see how Gnoppix and Knoppix not only escape censure but in fact get praised for their naming convention while (k)ubuntu is derided. At least Kubuntu and Ubuntu are patently different words, Knoppix and Gnoppix have far more potential for user confusion seeing as they actually sound exactly the same.

    I think a lot of people who have a problem with the with name Ubuntu really don’t like it cos it sounds too “foreign” to them. In what way is it any more absurd a word than Gentoo (actually isn’t there some similarity there?), Debian, Slackware, Beatrix, Xantros or Mepis?

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