What’s the deal with GNU application naming?

name   [neym]
1. give the name or identifying characteristics of; refer to by name or some other identifying characteristic property
2. mere designation, as distinguished from fact: He was a king in name only.
3. identify: identify as in botany or biology, for example
4. a reputation of a particular kind given by common opinion: to protect one’s good name.
5.a distinguished, famous, or great reputation; fame: to make a name for oneself.

According to the definition above, a name is an identity, a way to distinguish oneself with others, a remark that define reputation of a kind. In fact, branding is so important in today marketing, it single-handedly define the success of a product. Thus, it is no joke when companies spend lots of money and resources to come up with a name for their product.

Commercial softwares has been doing great job in naming job. Just name a few: iPod, Pages, Finder, Microsoft Office. However It’s seems to me Open Source community doesn’t really care much about branding or naming as their naming is very weird and sucks. It could be due to the nature of the software, in which many are begin as hobby project by some Uber-geeks. And programmers are usually sucks in marketing and branding. Please find below a list of GNU softwares names:

  • Recursive acronym – eg. GNU – GNU’s Not Unix! – a very UNIX geeky acronym way of naming softwares
  • Prefix lettered name – eg. KDE Apps – Ark, KCalc, Kalzium, Kate, etc; GNOME Apps – GCalc, Gedit, etc; X apps – xeyes, xfig, etc.
  • and many more examples …

IMHO, it’s a bad trend that GNU softwares follow these kind of naming conventions. Just imagine you are a non-technical users, I think you would tend to stay away from softwares with bad naming. Because you don’t want to risk opening a software without knowing briefly what the software function. For example, K3B doesn’t give me any sense this is a CD Burning program or Kate is a text-editor. In fact, K3B sounds like a virus name than an app.

But by saying so, I am not bashing open source softwares. Contrarily I love open source softwares and I have a firm belief that one day the world will be freed from proprietary softwares. But in order to achieve the worldwide domination, there’s thing must be done. It all starts with the very fundamental naming, then the logo, the HIG of the GUI to create a coherence between apps in an desktop environment.

About Jones Lee

Nothing much about me..

Posted in Misc

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One response to “What’s the deal with GNU application naming?

  1. Con vit

    I dun understand any of this shit but i think it’s a great post!

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