Blog Fiasco

April 25, 2012

Fedora release names

Filed under: Linux,Musings — Tags: , , — bcotton @ 9:25 pm

Last week, the voting for the Fedora 18 release name was opened, along with an announcement that the board is considering whether or not to continue the practice. Undoubtedly, this is a reaction to some of the hand-wringing over naming Fedora 17 “Beefy Miracle.” Yes, Beefy Miracle is a silly name. Yes, it is likely to be forgotten shortly after the release.

My own position is somewhat ambivalent. The naming process is democratic, and represents the Fedora Project as a whole. The fact that names will sometimes be silly or offensive to a cultural group is part of life in a democracy. The naming process provides a little bit of fun near the end of the release cycle when life gets hectic for contributors. Perhaps the most important aspect of the name is that it provides a theme around which artwork and release announcements can be crafted.

On the other hand, if the release names go away, I can’t say that I’d really care. Release names tend to be forgettable for most distributions (Ubuntu and Debian releases are the ones I’ve ever heard people refer to by name in conversation), and I don’t think it would be any loss to the Fedora community or product if naming went away. To be honest, I’ve already forgotten how I voted in that poll. Whatever the community decides is fine, so long as we continue to remain a community.

4 Comments »

  1. I don’t think “Beefy Miracle” will be forgotten that soon, for better or worse we *will* remember it. Ask a Fedora contributor what was the coolest code name and many will quickly reply “Zod” (some will say “Werewolf”). Ask for the worse, and some will remember “Sulphur”. But ask about “Cambridge”, “Goddard”, “Bordeaux” and such, and very few will remember, since those were boring (still “politically correct”) names. “Beefy Miracle” is anything but boring – is either funny, ridiculous or offensive, depending who you ask :)

    Comment by nicu — April 26, 2012 @ 3:47 am

  2. “Undoubtedly, this is a reaction to some of the hand-wringing over naming Fedora 17 “Beefy Miracle.””

    Again: no it isn’t. I for one have always thought release names for Fedora are a waste of time and effort and would gladly jump on any bandwagon for getting rid of them, and the board stated specifically that those who proposed stopping having release names at all are different people from those who complained about the Beefy Miracle name.

    Please stop repeating this, because it’s just not true. Even if we accept for the purpose of argument that Beefy Miracle is a ‘bad’ release name, trying to come up with ways to pick only ‘good’ release names in future would not solve the problem with release names, which is quite simply that _no-one uses them_.

    Comment by Adam Williamson — April 26, 2012 @ 4:25 am

  3. Nicu: you’re right about “Beefy Miracle” having a longer shelf life, but all hot dogs have an expiration date. We’ll probably remember that there was _a_ release named “Beefy Miracle” long after we remember that it was Fedora 17. And honestly, I think the discussion around the name will be a significant contributor to the length of our memory of it.

    Adam: I would argue that the fact that the proposal to stop release naming came from people who haven’t complained about “Beefy Miracle” does not necessarily mean the issues are unrelated. [Tinfoil hat time: Was "Beefy Miracle" selected to force the issue? It's a conspiracy!!!one!] My wording could have been more correct, though. I probably should have said that it _appears_ to be a reaction.

    The more I think about it, I’m not so sure the point of the name is for people to use it. The process generates some buzz, especially when a name like “Beefy Miracle” is chosen. In my mind, the most important actual use of a name is the theme aspect that I mentioned above. Even if no one ever refers to a release by its name, there’s still an impact. Is the current process the right vehicle for delivering this theme? Maybe, maybe not. We could just select a random word from /usr/share/dict/linux.words

    Comment by bcotton — April 26, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  4. [...] Fedora release names [...]

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