Names Given To Computers

Here are computer naming schemes that we've seen in real life, or maybe that we think would be good ideas. Most are people, places or things, but there are others. See also TipsForNamingComputers.

People (and People-like Beings) Places Things Other Projects Jokes
Names can be use in place of numbers
Stories too long for the above lists:

Do unimaginative naming schemes--like the name of the user, the function of the machine (printQueue4), the serial number or asset tracking number, or some randomly assigned bit of fluff--count?

No, they don't count, and as is very well known by now, it is always a mistake to name a system after its user. Inevitably, eventually users swap computers, so then user Bob is working on system Jim, and user Jim is working on Bob, and everyone is permanently confused.

It's also a bad idea to use something like an asset tracking number, simply because such things are difficult for humans to remember.

But unimaginative things are especially bad to list on this page, simply because they're boring. :-)

I worked at a place that had the AntiPattern of, by default, naming machines after their users. Most of the engineers, when receiving a machine, renamed it right away, but the chief engineer was notorious for keeping the old names, which was really annoying since he usually put himself at the end of the "new hardware food chain"--all the old machines ended up flowing through him. To combat this, one engineer, before giving up his old machine, renamed it "dumpysmurf", thinking that surely no one would let that name stand. As far as I know, it was still named dumpysmurf when the company shut down years later.

I work at a shop where each machine is rebuilt from an image snapshot before it moves from one user to another, in which case naming the machine after the user is not so bad an idea--at least when the machine starts running network-intensive malware, you know who needs to be visited with a cluebat, without tediously looking through various databases (larger companies would just unplug the network jack and identify the user when they complain about not having network access, but we prefer the personal touch ;-). This ritual cleansing has a number of nice side-effects, such as cleaning out all the Microsoft malware from Windows boxes. It gets rid of the third-party viruses, trojans, worms, and spyware too. Of course, now we have the problem of figuring out which of a user's many possible names to use: johns? jsmith? john_smith? john_q_smith? "John Smith"? JohnSmith? jon_boy? the_johnmeister? JohnSmith9? john_smith_second_computer?

We encountered a similar problem when we evaluated some software with a floating license server. We started out with BrandX software, and we named the license server "BrandX" (names changed to remain innocent of trademark infringement ;-). We now run BrandY software, which has a license server...still named "BrandX." Apparently we can change all technical details of our license (including customer legal name, billing address, responsible party, and host ID) with a simple phone call or email, but changing our license server's host name would require a nuclear explosion to occur somewhere in the vicinity of BrandY's customer database. Of course the license manager checks the host name matches the license data...

To be categorized

(I collected brain dumps on the topic from people in real life last year, started adding the collected list, and just got burned out during editing of this page with adding, moving, gnoming etc, so here's the gist of the remainder:)

Power tools -- bandsaw, jigsaw, rotarysaw, jackhammer, hydraulicLift

Hand tools -- crowbar, screwdriver, wrench, level

particles - electron, proton, neutron, photon, neutrino, quark, gluon, meson (and categories: lepton, boson, baryon...)

Las Vegas casinos - Mandalay...

currencies - peso, pound, dinaro...

cars - mustang, chevy

classic tv shows - gilligan's island, jeopardy... (comment: classics are best; anti-TV people 'might have heard of some old show, but might not be aware of the existence of the new CSI:Podunk show that you're so fond of :-)

elements - hydrogen...ummm...nope, there's only one element in the universe.

Sporadic Finite Simple Groups (never mind, no one named their computers after those, I'm just getting punchy)

I got 4 machines one day and called them gort, klaatu, barada, and nikto.

{I got 4 Windows machines one day and called them shit, fuck, damn, and hell. However, I had to change that when a colleague began saying things such as:} (Apologies to Abbot & Costello)

shit just got real...
See TipsForNamingComputers


"RFC 2100 - The Naming of Hosts" (not to be confused with the serious RFC 1178) "Coolest Hostnames" Other

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