Should Fedora abandon release names?

Fedora poll asks whether Fedora should continue having release names

Fedora has a long history of release names. Some have been serious (Verne, Goddard, Cambridge), while others have been a little less so (Werewolf, Moonshine, Zod). Perhaps the silliest of them yet, Fedora 17 will be "Beefy Miracle," a release name that's been floating around for quite some time. Apparently, some consider Beefy Miracle to be offensive, because it refers to food made with beef. Given the complexity of selecting a "safe" release name, should Fedora drop names altogether?

This was a problem we ran into with openSUSE as well, when it was decided that release names would be taken from European philosophers. Pretty simple and non-controversial, right? Turns out, the first release name chosen (Fichte) was a German philosopher who was also known for being anti-Semitic. That naming scheme was quickly abandoned.

Offend No One

It turns out, it's incredibly difficult to choose release names that have any meaning that are certain to be inoffensive and won't run afoul of trademark laws. Debian doesn't worry about this quite as much, going with characters from "Toy Story." Then again, Debian makes for a lousy target for lawsuits and (at least so far) the Pixar/Disney folks have wisely left well enough alone.

To avoid problems altogether, you can go with naming schemes that are less likely to be offensive, like chemical elements or colors. But why bother? The thing about names like "Zod" and "Beefy Miracle" is that they're fun, at least for some portion of the community. (Not to mention, they certainly make writing headlines more fun. I enjoyed writing the "Kneel before Zod" Fedora review quite a lot...)

One person's fun, though, is another person's annoyance (or worse). I get a laugh out of the Beefy Miracle codename. Some Fedora folks I know also have a lot of fun with hotdog puns and such, while others really dislike it because it's too silly. Fedora members from India may find it downright offensive.

No answer seems likely to please everybody, or even a significant majority. The Fedora folks are having a poll about the issue. It will be interesting to see what the final consensus is. What do you think?


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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