10 Jan 2012

FOSS and Names

It started recently when I bumped into this Larry's post.
This persuaded me to think (one more time) about names of operating systems and applications in the world of Open Source.
The post I linked above tells us that names are not always as good as they originally appear. And it gives at least 4 examples where developers needed to think twice before arriving at the current name.
Actually, my idea is that examples in that post are better than many more which you can get in existing Linux distributions and programs.
Let's take few more samples.
  • Kubuntu. If I had not known that this distribution is based on KDE and Ubuntu (and many first-time Linux users may not know this!), I would think that it has something to do with cubes or cube-oriented interfaces. Does it? No, it does not. Frustration is guaranteed. 
  • Lubuntu. I am Russian, and "lub.." in Russian language is the root in words "any" and "love". In analogy to the previous point, I am not sure if Russian users would understand the meaning of this name correctly. 
  • Comfusion. Sorry, I am confused at the very beginning. 
I repeat, I am talking exclusively about names here, not functionality and performance.
Obviously, I agree with the phrase in Larry's post:
Some of the names of distros themselves — and FOSS software, too — have names only a mother (and their developers) could love.
Is there any solution? I did a little research and found a solution... It is in the general spirit of community-driven software, although it is not "free as beer". There is a site PickyDomains.com which allows you for relatively small fee to "crowdsource" the process of naming for your project, being it the creation of a site, or product name, or slogan, or some similar thing.
How does it work? After registration, you create an order where you describe what your project is about, what you want to get as a result, and you give some technical limitations, like top level domain (.com, .co.au etc) or number of symbols.
Creative users - contributors - start giving you ideas. Usually you get hundreds of them per order! You may like or dislike each suggestion. And finally sooner or later you come to the one which suits you best of all. Once you have made your selection (and not earlier than that!), you make a payment to the site owner, which in turn shares part of the amount with the contributor. Deal!
By the way, the contributor is any person who feels himself to be a confident and creative person. Even you! Yes, you, who read these lines! If you can offer names like SoftwareJudge.Com for the software review site or DeLogger.Com for the log analyzer project, you can try your skills in naming. Will an additional $20-30 per accepted work fit your pocket?
Simple, isn't it? The project gets a proper name, the contributor gets some additional money and the site earns commissions. Win-win-win situation, if you like.
And now I wonder... How many people in the Linux world will start using the service?
Are you going to use it? Or maybe you already have the experience of using this or a similar resource in the past? I'd like to hear your opinion.


  1. Interesting blog item, and thanks for referring back to mine. Overall, most of the names for Linux distros and FOSS programs are fine -- many are actually good ones. It is only a handful that need help, and maybe your solution is a good one. Personally, I'd save the $30 and just use common sense and creativity in equal parts when naming a project, but that's me.

    Larry Cafiero

  2. @Larry Cafiero:
    it clearly depends on creativity of developers... some of them require help, others do not.