back to article Don't call me Ishmael

'No, you don't understand,' the White Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man."' 'Oh, do get on with it, you pedantic old weirdo,' snapped Alice crisply. Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll (1871), revised Verity Stob (2009) It started when we were all in …


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  1. iamapizza

    Names which sound familiar...

    I've got:




    You've heard of them before but it'll take you a moment to remember where they're from.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    What about hot sluty girls names

    Paris has just gone down on me!

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    What's in a name?

    I remember that quite a few years ago, I noticed a 'fashion' for calling servers by names of 'related things'. So you'd have groups such as iron, copper, steel..... or diamond, sapphire, emerald...

    This has the advantage that the people who look after them are less likely to get attached to them (as techies do) and so will make level headed decisions about scrapping them when the time comes; instead of lovingly tending and nursing them against all common sense.

  4. Nigel Callaghan Silver badge

    Rule 7 stupidity

    Town planners do often show limited imagination, as in the "Rosemary Walk led to Daffodil Hill, adjoining Poppy Lane and Lavender Avenue" example. Lincoln has a very literary area with adjacent streets named after (amongst many others) Swift, Coleridge, Lamb, Marlowe, Burns, Scott, Addison, Cowper, Chaucer, Shelley, Browning and Goldsmith. Even worse is the area of Leeds where there is Harlech Road, Harlech Mount, Harlech Ave, Harlech Grove, Harlech Terrace, Harlech Street and Harlech Crescent, followed by Trentham Row, Trentham Ave, Trentham St, Trentham Grove etc. I hope the postmen there get danger money!

  5. Jerome 0


    I have to confess I found your WikiAnswers link insufficiently convincing, so I undertook extensive research, and established that Lord Cardigan's horse was indeed called Ronald. Wikipedia said so, so it must be true.

  6. Sean Aaron

    How about extinct arthropods?

    Most of the things on my home network are named after Burgess Shale organisms: marrella and wixwia are my PAL and Japanese Wiis and yohoia is my printer. I've extended it further to my red ipod which is sanctacaris and my mobile phone is known to my computer as opabinia when it needs to download some photos for it. No danger of running out of names for quite some time!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spot on

    Thanks Verity. I'm pissed off working with Nw15agr1 too

  8. Bleeter
    Thumb Up

    Oh my god..

    Rule #9 ... people should have it beaten into them at birth.

  9. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Particular to workplace?

    A great guide. Our job at the theatre I work at is made simpler by a continuous and excellent source of server names - theatrical shows, as thus;






    That was, until some bastard contractor came in and named our Citrix server 'Citrix'.

  10. Gordon Guthrie 1

    Wise Words

    I was once asked to review a software application in wide use in an organisation. I was sent on a trip to the back of beyond to discuss it with the author/supplier of said application.

    I was more than slightly discombobulated to find out that the 'name' of the programme was actually the name of '3GL' it was written in. The swine hadn't *even* named it. Needless to say he was a hippy/self-taught maestro. The application itself was famously pants and known to be so before I was sent off on the quest.

    I did the 'due diligence' properly as befits a professional, but you don't need a social worker to know that a child named Bastard should be taken into care forthwith.

  11. jake Silver badge

    Oooooooooh kay ...

    And the point?

    ::wanders off muttering::

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    A name is for life, not just for Christmas

    See and for two other views, one of which is actually serious and underscores the point about underscores. Then call your machine "UP".

  13. A J Stiles

    My LAN

    I already latched onto the need for a theme from day one. All the machines on my home LAN are named after recreational drugs (marijuana the router, heroin the laptop, cocaine the desktop, crystalmeth the dual-xeon media transcoding box, and so on). And when I run out of drugs, I'm going to start using explosives.

  14. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Rule 2(a)

    See also: Start Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Hitchhikers, Dune etc.

    Codicil: for some reason Blakes 7 is permissible, as also is the Lensmen series.

  15. Helmut Watson

    Server/PC names

    I always call my servers God2, God3, etc on the basis that they are omniprescent. Server-connected printers become God2s pencil, God2s crayon, etc and the router becomes God2s earpiece.

    In a similar vein my personal PCs are always called Braincell2, Braincell3, etc on the basis that I've only got 1 left inside my own head!

    Woof !


  16. lee harvey osmond

    domain names ... how about proteins?

    Yes indeed, the Managing Director/Senior Partner/Supreme Dalek/whatever he's called himself this week could decide that all machine names shall be the names of proteins, not less than 40 characters long and quite improbably difficult to spell.

    Mind you, if the office LAN-botherer spells 'logfile' with two G's, even 'keratin' might prove problematic.

  17. Barely registers
    Gates Horns

    My favourite

    The server called Tartarus - the place as far beneath hell as hell is beneath heaven.

    It never crashed. Make of that what you will.

  18. Tom 15
    Paris Hilton


    Our workplace does Star Wars. We have ObiWans, Jabbas, Skywalkers, Palpatines, Dookus, Amidalas, Leias, Coruscants, Tattooines, Endors... work machines are people, servers are planets, peripherals are other objects, such as "blaster", "lightsaber", etc.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rule 6 - names from a domain

    If you've got a largish network, there's always the NATO designations for Soviet aircraft types.

    You know,

    * fighters started with "F" - Flanker,Flogger, Foxbat

    * helicopters started with "H" - Hind, Helix, Hokum

    * bombers started with "B" - Bear, Blinder, Backfire

    Yeah, sad, I know :-)

  20. Bill 19

    You know you've run out of creativity when... say bollocks to it and just run through the phonetic alphabet. I'm using Bravo.

  21. Jimmahh

    RE: Particular to workplace?

    Surely all you have to do is come up with some paper-thin excuse to put on a show called "Citrix" and you'll be alright again?

  22. Evil Graham


    In a previous job I proposed a naming scheme based on serial killers, on the grounds that they were memorable and there are plenty of them.

    For some bizarre reason this excellent suggestion was overruled.

  23. Adrian Jones

    At university...

    The computer unit had a Gould mini-computer which was problematic at first. Whenever they brought it up, it went down. After a few repetitions, they called it Zebedee. The next one was slow, so that was Brian. Then came Dougal and Florence. The computer science department called theirs "csgould". No imagination!

    When they were replaced with Sun boxen, the servers were given the names of mainline stations in London and the workstations named after the stations along the lines from those stations. I suspect the computer unit staff were train spotters...

    I have:

    Windows: Kiki (laptop), Zaza (PDA), Hector (Media PC).

    Linux: Midge (netbook), Mungo (PC). When I set up a mail server, it'll probably be Pat. (Not Mary, I know too many Marys, who'd probably be annoyed with me!)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I think you missed one

    I name mine after actresses that i like, dependent on their performance and use.

    My pimped up games machine is angelina jolie, she is fast, loud, runs hot, drinks power and chews through your resources.

    My eee1000 for the Xp parition is gemma atkinson, cheap, lightweight and lacks real substance without much care and attention. (spyware, anti virus)

    For the linux partition it's claire goose, perfect little package, does what it says it can and gets on with the job.

    My linux shuttle for email and web browsing is kate beckinsale, homely, multi talented in a perfectly formed body and isn't a complaining and whinging freeloader. (Doesn't need to reboot, isn't loud, doesn't overheat)

    My windows mobile phone was either lindsey lohan or amy winehouse depending on whenever active sync decides it needs to reinstall the connections because they have fallen over. Either one was talented and given such a chance of greatness only to ***k it all up. (MS's fault)

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @A J Stiles

    recreational drugs...heroin?

    Now where are my skins

  26. Paul A. Walker
    Thumb Up

    I have a HAL9000 on the domain...

    ...and I'm not ashamed to admit it! I did have my servers at my last place named after characters from Norse mythology, but no-one could spell so it was a problem. My routers were named after Marx brothers but after Zeppo I had to use Karl, which segued nicely into Engels, Lenin, Trotsky...

  27. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: I think you missed one

    >kate beckinsale, homely

    I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  28. AceRimmer1980


    Mail servers are called 'Pat'.

    @ frankly:

    Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life.

  29. Tony S

    Talk about sad

    At work, we use Greek letters for servers.

    For PCs, they used to use the names of characters from the Simpsons, but I thought that was silly - so we started using elements (really pissed off the users that got Ununhexium & Praesodynium). Ran out of elements, so we now use countries, and am just waiting to find out which idiot, sorry poor fool gets "Democratic People's Republic of Congo" or "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

    My home network is really nerdy - I use the names of dragons from the Anne McCaffrey novels about Pern. It's quite useful for testing purposes as I can set-up the Active Directory using the names of the Holds, Halls & Weyrs for Organisational Units, and the main characters as users, with their role in the society as their Security group.

    Yes, I REALLY need to get a life - and I'll start looking as soon as I've finished my cup of klah.

  30. Robert Ramsay
    Thumb Up

    @A J Stiles

    "And when I run out of drugs, I'm going to start using explosives."

    thank you Mr./Ms. Stiles for my new net sig :D

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is true

    At Pfizer in Sandwich, there were two printers in the limited access vivisection labs. They were called Bambi and Thumper.

    I suppose that this dark sense of humour was only to be expected.

  32. GrahamT

    Back in the mists of time

    I worked in a place that had the main server called SnowWhite, followed by Sleepy (very slow) Dopey (underpowered) etc. Of course, this limited the size of the network, and no one could ever remember the name of the seventh one.

  33. Kent Brockman


    Where i used to work we had seven ibm's for the data warehouse, so naturally, they were named after the members of S Club 7 - how we laughed across the office when I announced that Rachel had gone down on me again.

    Nowadays its much more conservative planets, saturn, earth mercury etc.

  34. GrahamT
    Thumb Up

    Re: "...'Dave' was a crap name for a TV channel."

    But the name of their rerun channel Dave-ja-vu is pure genius.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Easy place to get names

    We've now agreed to use the names of commenters from the Register. All existing machines are going to be renamed.

    I'm voting that "AManFromMars 1" is the web server; supplying quality information to all.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once had to name a Netware server "DOWN"

    It was for the office in County Down and that was their naming convention. I told them it would just look bad and confuse the ops team but their attitude was that a policy was a policy so get on with it.

    Personally I say name your computers and servers whatever you want to because it will make absolutely no difference.

    If you are naming your home computers then the only reason for "clever" names is to try to impress people. Which it certainly won't.

    At work your users will refer to their PC as "my PC" and not give a damn about the actual name and as for file servers they don't access stuff from "Gandalf" or "Spock" or "Filesrv01" or whatever they access shit from the "S" drive anyway.

  37. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Mine are

    freya - server

    odin - my primary desktop

    thor - my netbook - used to be my old desktop

    heimdall - firewall/router - look it up to understand what it's meant to be doing

    frigg - my mom's machine - fairly obvious once you read the meaning

    baldr - my cell phone

    loki - my UPS

    Still need to name my myth box... atm it's just myth

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats in a name!

    I named my Computer, Skynet

    Its not that powerful though as I only use it for Programming not gaming.

    Im currently working on an Advanced Recognition & Navigation Interface Engine, (A.R.N.I.E)

    M Dyson

  39. SoupDragon

    Beeching (and underscores

    I see there is one closed station called 'login' - I am sure that would cause no end of problems with some software...

  40. frank ly Silver badge

    @A J Stiles re. My LAN

    "..And when I run out of drugs, I'm going to start using explosives."

    Whatever you do, don't get confused and start smoking them; just chew them slowly.

  41. adnim Silver badge

    Rule 11

    Don't give servers names descriptive of their function.

    For instance FinanceFilesOne, BackUpBox, SensitiveFiles, EmployeeRecs.

    Security through obscurity although not a solution in itself does resist cluing up any potential hackers.

    Could it be that this is such an obvious rule it was omitted?

    I personally use characters from the tales of king Arthur on my home network.... Albion, Avalon, Uther, Gwain, Mordred etc. The exception is my missus' PC and laptop which are named Angus and LittleAngus respectively after the cat. The planets imho, are also a good source of computer names.

  42. Jeff 3

    I want my click back

    And here I was thinking that Ishmael was the codename for a new processor.

    Instead, I stumbled onto someones blog?!?

  43. John Angelico

    Being a boring accountant...

    I started naming our little home network of OS/2 machines to remind us where they were:

    Ollie (in the office) and Stan (in the store), and then we got our first laptop (Louie). But the next two desktop machines were christened Dewey and Huey.

    Printers? Named by the youngest member of the family at the time, we have

    Burt (the early-ish model HP 1200 which burps when it cycles its sleep mode)

    Cargo (a Kyocera MFP-1118 for the heavy lifting)


    Hippo the HP 2600N colour network laser (a large beast)

    Other machines - a dual-boot OS/2-Windows laptop called Traal (the Bug-blatter beast of) and a Windows desktop without its own KVMs called Bernard (Woolley - employed by our resident Hacker).

    OK OK, mine's the one with 'OS/2 PM Programming' in the pocket...

  44. Conrad Longmore

    Conrad Longmore

    Cute is nice.. but when you have thousands of clients and hundreds of servers it just becomes stupid.

    We just have:

    The two letter TLD of the country the box is based in (e.g. UK, SE, HK)

    A one letter resource type (S=server, D=desktop, L=laptop, P=printer)

    A four digit number for PCs, a 3 digit number for servers plus a type identifier (e.g. SQL, FP, DC)

    For example, UKD1234 is a UK desktop, PLS006SQL is a Polish SQL server, ITL0001 is an Italian laptop.

    So I can tell at a glance what country a machine is based in, whether it's fixed or roaming and with servers there's a clue as to what it actually does. You can also sort lists of machines alphabetically and they automatically arrange themselves by country and type.

    Yeah, it's a boring way to name things. But it makes life a helluva lot easier than being cute.

  45. Anonymous Coward


    I used to use the names of elements as a naming scheme. Unix/Linux/OS X machines would start from Hydrogen and go upwards. Windows boxen would start with radioactive element names such as plutonium, uranium, etc. (as they are unstable and prone to decay). Problem was I ran out of radioactive element names too soon.

    Good thing was you could use a long and short hostname, e.g.: & &

    so you could do: ping h, ping na, etc.

    (as long as the DNS was setup with the search domain correctly).

  46. Steve Swann

    Thank you all...

    ...for the valuable footprinting info. I'll be sure to visit your networks soon.


  47. Kim Rasmussen

    @Admiral Grace Hopper

    What, even "Vroomfondel" and "Majikthise"?

  48. James 30

    I'm lacking originality....

    I've err..named all of our networkable devices at home after Battlestar Galactica stuff. My iPod touch is call Starbuck, the PS3 is known as Pegasus when in Linux, the router is called Kobol and err...I'm sure you all get the idea.

  49. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Heavenly bodies and birds at uni

    At UKC in the late 80s/early 90s, the VAX cluster sported planetary names (Jupiter, Saturn, Titan etc.) and the Unix boxen were birds (raven, hawk, eagle etc.). Dunno if the tradition carried on after the machines themselves died, though.

    Just to back up the Blake's 7 meme, I always call my laptop Orac (well, it was supposed to be portable...)

  50. Eponymous Cowherd

    Ones I've seen

    Birds of prey (Eagle, Osprey, Owl, Hawk, Falcon, Vulture)

    Astronomers (Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Halley, Huygens, Newton)

    Egyptian gods (Osiris, Anubis, Seth, Ra)

    Boring old numbers (svr-001, svr-002, ws-001, ws-001)

    English Counties (Yorkshire, Hampshire, Devon, Cornwall)

    Ships at Trafalgar (Victory, Agamemnon, Orion, Ajax)

    WB Cartoon Character (Wylie, Daffy, Bugs, Elmer, Porky, Tweety, Sylvester)


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