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Re: DAK Commands for Bikesheds

Wookey wrote:
> +++ Raphael Hertzog [2015-09-17 14:41 +0200]:
> > Hi,
> > 
> > On Thu, 17 Sep 2015, Joerg Jaspert wrote:
> > > Please check if I forgot something obvious or if there is some big error
> > > in it. Patches/git trees to merge from/... are welcome.
> > 
> > Please don't call this feature "Bikesheds" and don't hardcode this naming
> > in the suggested API. It was funny during one Debconf talk... but it won't
> > be funny in the long term.
> It wasn't supposed to be a joke. Bikeshed is an appropriate name, in
> the unix tradition of mildly amusing/punny names.

Which tradition would that be?

Out of the few hundred or so Unix [0] and GNU [1] commands listed on
Wikipedia, the only vaguely amusing/punning names I can find are tac
("cat" backwards) and pinky (a lightweight "finger").

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unix_commands

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Core_Utilities

RFC 1178 ("Choosing a Name for Your Computer", a reprint from a CACM
article) has some good advice about picking hostnames.  Some of it is
applicable to picking names for software, too, including:


      Don't overload other terms already in common use.

         Using a word that has strong semantic implications in the
         current context will cause confusion.  This is especially true
         in conversation where punctuation is not obvious and grammar is
         often incorrect.

         For example, a distributed database had been built on top of
         several computers.  Each one had a different name.  One machine
         was named "up", as it was the only one that accepted updates.
         Conversations would sound like this: "Is up down?"  and "Boot
         the machine up." followed by "Which machine?"

         While it didn't take long to catch on and get used to this
         zaniness, it was annoying when occasionally your mind would
         stumble, and you would have to stop and think about each word
         in a sentence.  It is as if, all of a sudden, English has
         become a foreign language.


      Don't use antagonistic or otherwise embarrassing names.

         Words like "moron" or "twit" are good names if no one else is
         going to see them.  But if you ever give someone a demo on your
         machine, you may find that they are distracted by seeing a
         nasty word on your screen.  (Maybe their spouse called them
         that this morning.)  Why bother taking the chance that they
         will be turned off by something completely irrelevant to your


      Use words/names that are rarely used.

         While a word like "typical" or "up" (see above) isn't computer
         jargon, it is just too likely to arise in discussion and throw
         off one's concentration while determining the correct referent.
         Instead, use words like "lurch" or "squire" which are unlikely
         to cause any confusion.

         You might feel it is safe to use the name "jose" just because
         no one is named that in your group, but you will have a problem
         if you should happen to hire Jose.  A name like "sphinx" will
         be less likely to conflict with new hires.


Robert Edmonds

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