Tom, I Can Name That Distro in Two Notes
Everybody loves the wild and wacky names that end up gracing releases of the various Linux distributions throughout the year, even if some of them — we're not going to name names, that might hurt our karma — have gotten a bit more bizarre of late. Among the more interesting processes for picking release names comes from the Fedora Project, where unlike most other distributions, the new name must share a unique link to its predecessor. Its time then to put your thinking caps on, as the race to make that most creative of links is underway.
The method for choosing the the nom de plume for the behatted distro is deceptively simple: The new name must share a link to the old name, and that link must follow the pattern "X is a Y, and so is Z." An example, from the last Fedora name contest: "Cambridge was a ship of the Union Navy, and Leonidas was too." Cambridge (X) was the preceding release name, from Fedora 10, Leonidas (Z) was the winning submission, and the connection between the two was that both were ships in the Union Navy (Y).
Some interesting appellations have been bandied about so far, including our favorite: Ahasuerus was a King present at the Battle of Thermopylae played by Richard Egan in a film, and Leonidas was too. One kink in the system, and the source of our description of the process as deceptively simple, is that obvious links, like "is a place" or "is a word" are disqualified, with preference being given to obscure commonalities referencing interesting topics. The link must be legitimate, it cannot be the same link that was used to pick any previous release name, and perhaps the greatest obstacle, it must be eligible for trademarking. Submitters are obligated to perform a cursory Google search to determine any obvious collisions, while the Red Hat legal department conducts an in-depth investigation before approving the nominations.
The ultimate decision on the new name is left to the Fedora community, though the Fedora Board pre-screens the list to eliminate obvious, illicit, uncreative, or otherwise undesirable before passing it to Red Hat's legal team to slice and dice with the Patent & Trademark Office. The final list, free of thorns and fresh from the lawyers will be presented to the Fedora community for a vote, after which the formal announcement of the new name will be made. Submissions are open through May 23, with vetting by the Board and legal eagles from May 24 through June 8, and the community vote commencing on June 9. The final day of voting will be June 22, with the final name to be announced on June 27.
Submissions are welcome from any member of the Fedora community, provided the have performed the obligatory search and can justify the "is a" link between the two names. Nominations should be made on the Fedora 12 naming page on the Fedora wiki — those seeking a bit more guidance can find the full rules of the process there as well, and anyone looking for past links may find the history of Fedora release names an interesting read.
Justin Ryan is News Editor for LinuxJournal.com.
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