Image of the glider from the Game of Life by John Conway
Skip to content

Ubuntu Codenames

With the release of Ubuntu 9.04 about 2 months out, Mark Shuttleworth will be announcing the codename of Ubuntu 9.10 fairly soon. This gets the community excited, as historically, Ubuntu releases have had entertaining codenames with interesting patterns. For example, the first three releases were after badgers: Ubuntu 4.10 "Warty Warthog", Ubuntu 5.04 "Hoary Hedgehog" and Ubuntu 5.10 "Breezy Badger". Ubuntu 6.06 was named after a duck, "Dapper Drake", and it's been alphabetical since. Currently, we're on the letter "I", with the letter "J" to be released for 9.04, which means "K" is the likely candidate for Ubuntu 9.10.

Now, here's what I would like to see from the community: quit calling the releases after their codenames. Start calling them after their version number. Here's why. Most people don't know what version "Feisty Fawn" was without thinking about it, or pulling up Google. For those who have been running Ubuntu, they'll remember their experience with the codename if it was significant, but the average Ubuntu user doesn't recall codenames. But, they do recall time, with how long they have been using Ubuntu. So, when I say "I've been using Ubuntu since 4.10", or "Remember Ubuntu 7.04?", then people will know more specifically what version I am referring to. However, when I say "I've been using Ubuntu since Warty", or "Remember Feisty?", people will most likely not know what version I'm referring to. Consider the following scenario:

I started with Linux when Red Hat Enigma released. I then moved to Fedora Yarrow, and left around Zod. Now I'm running Debian Etch as a server with Ubuntu Intrepid on my laptop and Hardy on my Desktop.

You get the idea. After all, you don't refer to by it's codename, or Firefox for that matter. So why refer to Ubuntu by just the codename?

So, when the announcement is made, the Internet will be a buzz about the new codename, and we'll see image mock ups galore. But, would it be too much trouble to start calling the releases after their version number instead of codename? If you're going to insist on using the codename, would it be too much trouble to append the version number with it? "Ubuntu Intrepid 8.10". It would be nice to see the version numbers in blog posts, forums posts, mailing lists, IRC, and even in speech used much more. As long as you're familiar with the how the version number is compiled, people will feel less alienated and more likely to know what you're talking about.

With that said, I do enjoy the codenames as much as the next guy, and I even enjoy the wallpaper themes that have surrounded the codename on the past two releases. Further, by default, the codename is used in the repository sources file on every Ubuntu system by default, so, becoming familiar with them is beneficial.

{ 48 } Comments

  1. wayne | February 8, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    i agree 100%. i don't really care for names that change every 6 months. if we were on an 18 month schedule, that might be a different story....

  2. spych102 | February 8, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Great post, well argued but there is no hiding from fact that the names are cuter than the numbers. Should the numbers be scrapped to avoid confusion?

  3. jorge | February 8, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Yeah but the numbers are useful for easily telling when a release came out.

  4. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    No, the numbers shouldn't be scrapped. As jorge mentioned, this is to make it easily identifiable when the release was made.

  5. phoenyx | February 8, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    /me wonders what the version number of Xenocidal Xenops will be.

  6. oliver | February 8, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    > /me wonders what the version number of Xenocidal Xenops will be.

    That would be Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, probably.

  7. Miguel | February 8, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Totally agree. For non english speakers being able to remember the codenames is very hard. Furthermore, it's not that the benevolent chooses easy names but things like warty, jaunty, warthog, jackalope!!, wtf!... It's might be a funny a way for developers to name version but it's clearly not suitable for mainstream users. At least choose easy names, like Mac does (ie. everybody knows what a leopard is)

  8. Anonymous | February 8, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I happen to think that Deer Park and Bon Echo were the two most beneficial versions that Mozilla released!

    you insensitive clod!

  9. Jason | February 8, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Well that's odd... why did I get logged out all of the sudden? >_>

  10. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Dunno. I'm having issues with the OpenID plugin. Many people have mentioned it to me, and until a new release rolls out, all I can do is wait.

  11. Jonathan | February 8, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Has there been thought given to updating the Launchpad and PPA structure to stop using codenames and start using version numbers? I think that would be an important start.

    PS, I think your openid plugin isn't quite working correctly.

  12. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I would like to see version numbers in the sources.list as well as the codenames. I don't think we need to drop the codenames at all, but a little more flexibility would be nice.

  13. Justin Carmony | February 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I'd have to say I agree with you. I wouldn't "stop" using the codenames, but encourage all articles & blog posts to have both. The reason I really like having the codenames is when googling for answers. With other software it can be hard to get posts that are related to version "x.x" because numbers are used everywhere. However, with Ubuntu I can google "Ubuntu Intrepid " and I get much better and meaningful results.

  14. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    You bring up a good point. Googling the codenames produces better results that the version numbers. However, I've also gotten into the habit of using the version numbers in my Google searches as well. They turn up different results sometimes.

  15. Mats Taraldsvik | February 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I don't know... Both Windows and Mac makes use of names that are not only numbers. While numbers would be more practical, codenames/names are easier to remember in the way that humans remember images better than numbers. It is easier to make assiciations with codenames than numbers. And, codenames are cooler!

    However, I do try to put both in, the codename and version number, when I write documentation.

  16. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Windows and Mac also release their product once every ice age, rather than every 6 months. Since Ubuntu 4.10, there have been 8 releases. With Windows, since 2004, there has only been one. With Mac, there has only been 2.

  17. Endless Linux | February 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Heehee... Xenocidal Xenops. Someone should keep that in mind. That is pretty awesome. πŸ˜›

  18. Flimm | February 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Are you kidding? Numbers are painfully boring and tedious to pronounce. Should 06.06 be pronounced six point zero six, or zero six point zero six, or six six, or six oh six, or six point oh six, or six dot oh six, or six dot zero six? Whatever your choice, it still sounds awful. But if you're up to it, go ahead.

    (Never mind about the people who forget the zeros, 6.6 instead of 6.06 or 7.1 instead of 7.10.)

  19. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    It's not "06.06", but "6.06", and yes, if you are pronouncing it, then it would be technically accurate to say "six point zero six". And it's not "7.1", but "7.10". We're not treating the dot as a decimal, but as a break. It would be pronounced "seven point ten", not "seven point one".

  20. Carl | February 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn't a single name be better than a pair? Most people say Intrepid, Hardy or Feisty so the the second name is mostly just confusing. This is what most other companies seem to be doing and seems easier to remember and easier to add a version number to it. Think of "Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04" vs "Ubuntu Hardy 8.04"...

  21. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    This is what many other distributions have followed, such as Fedora, Red Hat, and others. However, it just kind of slipped out of Mark during an IRC session, and it stuck, so I think the pair of names will be around for a while.

  22. flomar | February 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    You do have a point there, though i think it is more important to keep up the human idea with cute codenames that the users can identify with. e.g. i will kept in mind that i started using ubuntu with "Breezy Badger", i have to calculate back through the codenames if you'd ask me what releasenumber that was.

    i disagree that calling ubuntu by codename in blogs/forum posts is a problem for people finding release-specfic information. it's not that a lot of people nowadays (intrepid 8.10 being the most recent release) do care about information thats meant for warty 4.10. so if you ask google etc. for information about a ubuntu specfic topic you most likely get information related to the most recent (LTS) release and the one prior to that.

    best solution though would be to use codename and release-number, i agree on that.

  23. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I've never suggested people drop the codename completely, just suggested to start using the version number. This will make it better for finding answers on Google, as you have mentioned. You should be searching for both the codename and the version number if you want to maximize your search results, which means we should at least put both in public mailing lists, forums posts, blogs, logged IRC chats, and so forth.

  24. Dewey_Oxberger | February 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I can't stand seeing docs that say this works for Intrepid. What? What version is that? I thought I was the only one who had to google those darn names...

    You point is spot on.

  25. Kevin G | February 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Nah, Codenames are fun. It humanizes the release.

    Its not as officious as "Microsoft Windown XP Professional", (which by the way is Windows 5.1, as opposed to 5.0 which is Microsoft Windows 2000)

    as far as looking up things using the codename is virtually the only way I look things up.. today I wanted to install the new version of Firefox, so I typed into Google "install firefox 3.1 intrepid" its the first link. 8.10 & 8.04 start running together with multiple results.

    The people who drive the Mars rover name the rocks.. Why? its a mnemonic. It also makes a tedious job fun. Are they going to remember all the rocks by their names? probably not. They will probably only remember the ones that mean something to them, but why did they do it? Its human nature.

    The marketing angle is a great idea.. Instant recognition for some. a basis to create logos, & stoke interest in the release (especially for those who don't know how things work under the hood -- and yes, you want those people too.) also, How do you get people to generate 5 dozen wallpapers of an Ibex? Name an Ubuntu release after it!

    Its good both ways. You keep your 8.10, I'll keep my Ibex.

  26. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I don't disagree at all that codenames are fun or that they bring a sense of personality to the release. I like them, and hope they stick around (I'm sure they will). All I'm asking is for people to start referring to releases by version number instead of codename, so it makes it easier to know when this release came out.

  27. ArtInvent | February 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    So let's see, thats D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K . . . yeah, don't know how anyone can remember such an arbitrary sequence.

    Numbers are for geeks. Ubuntu (wait for it . . . ) is for human beings. We like to name things. Who's to say that little humanizing touches like that are a big part of why Ubuntu has become so popular when so many other distros that are technically pretty good fail to catch any wind.

    Also agree with posts that's it's easier to identify and Google stuff. And the names are descriptive and help indicate that one release is an LTS version, (Hardy) while another is more of an experimental bleeding edge release (Intrepid). You can't actually do that with a number so you have to add the 'LTS.'

    "I'm still using 'Gutsy'." Lots easier than saying 'Ubuntu eight point oh four L T S. '

  28. Aaron | February 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    So it shouldn't be difficult for you to tell me the version number of Q or T or Z. After all, it's just sequential.

    As already mentioned, codenames personalize the releases. No doubt. However, people also don't know quickly, at least without help, when that codename was released. Using the version number, it's easy to know exactly when the release came out.

  29. Alan Bell | February 9, 2009 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    No, I can't tell you the version number of Q or T or Z, however I can tell you what order they would be in. Isn't that the important information?

  30. Aaron | February 9, 2009 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    No, that's not the point. The point is being able to recall when a release happened, not what letter it's on.

  31. David | February 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Err, the first three were named after badgers? Neither warthogs or hedgehogs are badgers.
    As for the use of the code name, I actually remember Ubuntu's codenames better than the number. When people refer to 7.04 or 7.10 it takes me a while before I know which ones they're talking about. The OSX versions are also better known by their codenames. Most people know that Leopard is the latest version, but I would guess that fewer would know what the actual version number is. Going alphabetical is also useful since you then know where the versions are chronologically without having to look at the version number.

  32. Aaron | February 9, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I was wondering when a post like this would show up. What is a warthog and a hedgehog then?

    The problem with the Mac releases, is no one really knows what version they're on, and they certainly can't tell you what previous versions they've had. I have 2 Mac OS X machines, and one is 10.5, the other is 10.4. I know 10.5 is codename leopard, but I couldn't tell you what 10.4 was codenamed.

  33. David | February 10, 2009 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Cheetah, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard. (the only one I actually had to look up was Panther, and I don't even own a mac... Maybe I've been watching those keynotes too much) I see your point though. It's much easier to remember the codename of the current version or the previous, but not necessarily ones before that. Maybe it's more of an issue with Ubuntu, since you have a lot more versions supported at any given time, while with OSX, you usually have at most two.

    A warthog is a type of pig (related to boars), while a hedgehog is in its own family (Erinaceinae). Badgers are in the same family as weasels, otters and ferrets.

  34. Nathan Handler | February 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about this. When I hear an Ubuntu codename, I mentally convert it to a version number, and then to a year and month. Referring to each release by the version number would make it much easier to know when it was released. However, in my opinion, it is more difficult to remember a version number than it is to remember a code name. This is due to the fact that all software uses version numbers. I have yet to see another piece of software with an intrepid or hardy release. This makes it easy for people to remember their Ubuntu version. It also makes searching Google for information about a certain release work better. For the casual user, they do not care about what year/month their version of Ubuntu came out in. They just care about having the most recent stable version. This means that they just need to remember that intrepid is the current stable release. I find that much easier than remembering 8.10 is the current release. Finally, just because we do not refer to other pieces of software by their codenames does not mean that we can't do that for Ubuntu. After all, being different is not a bad thing.

  35. Aaron | February 9, 2009 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Mark has made the version numbers with Ubuntu easy though. Who knows when 3 came out, but who knows when Ubuntu 8.10 came out? I believe that was the point of his versioning syntax- he wanted people to know when the release happened, so they could have a sense of perspective on the distribution.

    Again, I'm not suggesting scrapping the codenames, just that the community will use the version numbers more. That's all, really.

  36. Dread Knight | February 9, 2009 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    Bullshit. It's just your point of view.

    I recall names but i don't recall time since i lose track of it very fast.

  37. Aaron | February 9, 2009 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The point of the post is recalling when the release happened, not what. Didn't I make this clear? I thought I did.

  38. David A | February 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    English is not my first language. I have to consult wikipedia to build a mental picture of the code names. I guess sometimes native english-speaking people that are not literature-professors have to too.

    But then, when you have a picture, the Heron has a certain charm.

    I do remember the first Ubuntu I tried was 6.06. I do not remember its code name. I do not directly remember when, but I can accurately deduce what year it must have been.

  39. Wolfger | February 10, 2009 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I think you're 100% (or at least 90%) wrong. Code names are far more memorable than version numbers. Which is why people remember and (in my experience, at least) use them. I don't know anybody who say's "I've been running Ubuntu since 7.04", but a good number of folks who say "I've been running Ubuntu since Feisty." Likewise, nobody even knows or cares which version number of Windows is called Vista. They just call it Vista. Quick... what is the current version of the Macintosh OS? Any Mac-head will tell you it's Leopard, or OS X Leopard. What version number is that? Does anybody care? No.

    Are the Ubuntu codenames too cutesy? Possibly. Probably. But if that's the issue, then we just need to change the naming scheme. Dumping the use of codenames is NOT the way to go.

    P.S. the issues I used to have with posting a comment here still exist. Would be nice if that could get fixed eventually.

  40. JD Evora | February 11, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Sorry, I can only remember the current code name, I know that I'm using Ubuntu since 5.10, I don't have a clue about its code name.

  41. JD Evora | February 11, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I'm 100% with you.

    Specially in the sources file, EVERY time that I have to take a look to a machine that doesn't has the latest version I have to Google the code name for get a picture about what should I do with it.


    PS: Actually I recently discovered lsb_release -a makes my live easier πŸ˜‰

  42. BrettA | February 12, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    More over, Ubuntu needs to start branding their versions as "8.10" or "6.06"; who can sit at a computer and immediately tell me that you're booting 6.06 or 8.10 without knowing it from experience?

    You can use (a) the terminal or (b) System > About Ubuntu to find the answer. There is no way for the casual user to know what system they're on unless they know from experience or from some one telling them previously.

    I propose showing the version number in the boot up and boot down sequence and in GDM/KDM.

    What do you think?

  43. Jeff | February 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Thoughts on the future? Karmic Koala?!

  44. Aaron | February 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I think it's good. Just like all the previous names, it'll take some time getting used to. If you read the email, it's well written support the Koala, and the reason he chose it.

  45. Tom Brinks | February 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I like code names, but you make a great point.

  46. Tom Brinks | February 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

  47. Guiritan Domsz | May 19, 2009 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    i love ubuntu CodeNames their were alphabetically
    paired-up as version releases. i wish that they add
    some Philippine animals as the candidate for next

    πŸ™‚ thanks guys

  48. OfNoNation | August 28, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I think the code-names are pointless and quite confusing... especially when the release number it omitted. Why do we want this romantic little cuddly bunny rabbit association with a computer operating system? Using release numbers gives an almost instant impression of how long ago the version in question was published. I forget the names really easily, but not the numbers. I'm using 10.04 now but I'd have to think a while to remember the name it was given. I know that the last Ubuntu I installed was 9.04 which was obviously two releases ago and was issued a year before the current one. Also, how long will it b b4 th names r abbreviated in the ridiculously lazy way of typing on the internet that is becoming the norm?... Brzy Bgr, Fsty Fwn,...
    Is it a kind of tribal, clubby thing where people are ashamed not to know the latest meaningless slang name for something, even when that name is a word used totally out of the context of it's true meaning?
    Am I just being totally unromantic? Call me a Boring Baboon, a Grumpy Goat, or a Sad Slug.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. Ubuntu Codenames und Versionsnummern | YAFD | February 8, 2009 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    [...] Toponce ruft in seinem Blog dazu auf, in Blogs, Foren, Mailinglists und allen weiteren Texten statt der bloßen Nennung der Ubuntu [...]

  2. [...] Toponce: Ubuntu Codenames. Aaron makes an important point about our love of referring to versions of Ubuntu by their [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.