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I Want Names for my Servers! 862

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the I-know-where-you're-coming-from dept.
Andrew Smith has written an excellent little feature on something so obvious that we usually don't give it a second thought: Server naming conventions. Since all my old machines are named after charachters from The Little Mermaid, and all the new Slashdot boxes use boring naming conventions like 'Linux360' (not for long tho!) I can understand this one. Its worth a read.
The following was written by Slashdot Reader Andrew Smith.

I don't want a Lime Mac, I want Names for my Servers!

In some small way I, as a System Engineer, can derive pride from giving my servers loving ,meaningful names. Names like Xavier, Donald Duck, and Cyclops. In fact, this task that has always been one of the most enjoyable parts of being a System Engineer. Now they try to take this away from me.

"System Engineer" is the loving title my employer gives members of our small group that takes care of the servers. Linux, Solaris, AIX, NT, Novell; we are the shepherds that hold this herd together. Often we pet our respective servers, maybe run our hands over their keyboards or do a quick ping just to make sure they are okay. A server likes to be treated nicely, and if I must call it LNXSERVER0143 then it just doesn't get the kind of treatmeent it deserves.

At my previous employer the Netware goons had taken the initiative of using cartoon characters as the naming scheme. It all started with Rocky and Bullwinkle, moved on to Looney Toons, and slowly evolved to include Sesame Street for the NT machines and Disney Characters for the Unix machines. Nothing like logging in to WILE_E_COYOTE, BUGS_BUNNY, or ELMO to cheer up your day in your little cube of isolation. It helps to humanize those objects that can be such a pain. I recently heard of a company using characters from 'Taxi' and 'Mary Tyler Moore'. Being able to say, "Hey, is the hard drive on Mary going?" or "Rhoda isn't accepting logins any more" or "Someone tried to hack RevJim" provides just the kind of relief needed in that time of crisis. Of course, it's also fun.

But in the last few weeks I stepped out on the limb where I now am. I felt the rather lame practice of naming servers after trees (we have Ash, Oak, and Pine as well as others) was getting on my nerves. So I took the chance and named a few servers after X-Men. It's a good theme, with lots of characters to choose from and lots of cool graphics easily available. There is, of course, no official written standard at my employer, but the helpdesk supervisor who had his new app on the servers felt that Xavier, Storm, and Cyclops were not professional enough. They just didn't have the professional feeling of "Oak" and "Ash".

My day was, of course, destroyed. We System Engineers now are tasked to come up with a professional-sounding naming scheme or live with something as intelligent as the machine OS concatenated with the serial and model number, or some such nonsense. Oh the horror! Can you imagine "SOLARISSPRC20SN324234"? What a wonderful name!

Granted, one of my coworkers has suggested Dilligaf. With a little knowledge that one doesn't go over well, and it is but one name. A consistent theme is needed, a theme that fits with the System Engineers, the people who keep the servers happy.

The question has been posed "How will a new person know what the server does if it isn't named something logical?" Well, any person worth their weight in bits knows that XAVIER is probably a primary or secondary DNS, and CYCLOPS of course is a Helpdesk Web Server. It may take a little explaining, but my four year old could grasp it in a couple of minutes. I would expect a computer science major to get it in less than a few hours. And there are such things as aliases!

Xmen, television series, Star Trek ships... Give me my names, let me express myself! How can I as a System Engineer in my structured little cube with my structured little OS and my structured IP scheme live within these restrictive bonds forced upon me by an uncreative group of suits? I don't want a lime-colored Mac, I want real names for my Servers. I want to be able to have my NT Primary Domain Controller called CHER and the Secondary Domain Controller called SONNY. I want to have ELMO, GOOFY, and DONALDDUCK for SQL servers. I want to have Xena and Hercules be the firewall. Break free, my fellow engineers! Don't let 'the man' keep you down! Stand forth and name your servers, establish your theme, and create a standard before someone dares to put their foot down.

The freedom we seek today can only help those who follow us.

Keep the faith!

--Andrew D. Smith

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I Want Names for my Servers!

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nuff said... the possibilites are endless and growing every day! jihad.example.org militia.bar.net etc...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    first-post.slashdot.org !!!
    (followed by some luser who writes:
    second-post.domain.com !!!

    Got it, beeyatches!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Marijuana Herion Crack Smack Coke Speed Whizz Hash Weed Pot Pills Acid LSD Amphetamine E Gear 9Bar The when you you ask which machine the user is currently on, you'll get an interesting reponse. Brad
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We use names of swedish cartoon figures as the name of our servers. But we have quite a relaxed nameing convention. No one has the right to bitch about the names we give to servers as long as we run them .. if they wanna name them something else they take care of them .. that usuaully shuts people up that doesn't like the names.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I prefer to name my systems after prisons (People seem to remember the machine name better that way :) Federal & the state you reside in do the best IMO. For example I have: Folsom Bellevue Attica SingSing Rikers SanQuentin
  • by Zack (44)
    And of course, who's in charge of the Render Farm? Old_Macdonald.

    I still like my boxes:

    Hookah
    Shisha
    Nargile
  • Here at school we've got all sorts of naming conventions. Most of our "real" servers are named after ancient egyptian gods (eg amon, osiris, isis, anubis, etc). The math professors' Suns are one, two, three, etc. The chem SGIs are all named after elements. And so on.
    Having a coherent naming scheme is not only fun but useful: when a user says something like "I can't log into krypton" I at least know what I'm dealing with (IRIX, in this case). Using names like sparcstationnumber234 isn't just obnoxious, it's an organizational mess despite the effort to the contrary.
  • We also used this scheme, (so far: ale, bock and stout) when we started populating our offices with Linux boxen in `94. In particular, the name ``bock'' has great room for upgrading as when the single CPU machine goes to a dual CPU, you can rename it ``duppel-bock''.
  • by Octal (310)
    What? No Alcatraz?
  • I did that. The first name on my network was dis. My dead laptop is mercury, my old 486, now permanently dead, was cronus, and I've saved cerberus or janus for a router for when my home network gets a link to outside.

    I've strayed away from the naming scheme, though. Dis was renamed to evil only weeks after installation, and my new laptop is tertia (it's the third laptop I've gone through). I may return to a mythological naming scheme if I resurrect mercury, as I'm contemplating the names lazarus and osiris for it.
  • You must have fun with newbies and talk(1).



    Message from god@heaven at 12:45 29 Oct 1999:
    ....
    I'm coming for your soul at 3:00 this afternoon.
  • Ours are named after charcters in the Green Mile (short story series by Stephen King)

    Edgecombe
    Coffey
    Delacroix
    Mr. Jingles
  • My home network has all the machines named with hydrocarbons (i think?):
    octane
    pentane
    hexane
    methane
    heptane

    At work, however, we have creative names like:
    office01
    office02

    And a few really creative ones on peoples personal machines:
    miracle
    mirabelle
    defcon6

    Creative bunch we are! :)

    jason
  • If you name a machine after its function, what happens when the machine no longer serves that function? E.g. We have a mail server here named "dns1" - it used to do DNS, but that's no longer its function.

    The functional names (mail, dns, ftp, www) of the machines should be listed in DNS as CNAMEs.

    For the record, at my former employer we used names of pagan deities. Where I am now we use animal names.
    --
  • I've got a "cybil", too... Cyrix machine... at the time I named her, she multi-booted Linux, OS/2, Win95, and DOS. Down to just Linux now, but the name stuck...

    My other machines:
    lynn: My first Linux box.
    xena and gabrielle: an XT and the Linux box that routes ARCnet for it.
    deliah: A Dell.
    arienrhod: Built out of parts that came out of cybil (that really should be the other way around).
    amanda, tessa, and anne: The Macs.

    There's also anastasia, cassandra, cloe, and eddi, who haven't got humor buried in their names...

    Oh, and I named my workstation at work grover. The box is from Big Blue, and I work for a PBS station... (We've also got an oscar, and we had an elmo for a while.)
  • Being an aviation buff, back in college when I took a Fortran programming class, I named my program assignments after the NATO codenames for the famous Soviet MiG fighters: Fresco, Farmer, Fishbed, Flogger, Foxbat.

    Yeah, it wasn't very practical and it got a not too approving reaction from the instructor, but at least it sounded cooler than 'ASSIGN1', etc.

    The NATO codenames were colorful yet cryptic, and with a system behind them: B for bombers, C for cargo (transports), F for fighters, and so on, with one syllable for propeller aircraft and two for jets.

    These days, if I were setting up a network I'd probably just go with Simpsons characters.
  • The VAX has got to be Brezhnev. The last of the old-guard dinosaurs.
  • >>>
    I'm currently looking for a famous Russian rocket scientist for a third.
    >>>

    Is "Tsiolkovsky" too long or cumbersome to type?
  • The problem I see is that it's just a hodgepodge of those Japanese terms that are to some degree familiar to Westerners (or at least Japanophiles), with no coherent theme. The foods are fine, but after that, what do death-by-overworking, rice wine, and gangsters have to do with each other or anything??

    You should have stuck with the food theme - there's plenty more, after all. But at least I don't see the really cheesy ones like geisha, karate, and Godzilla.
  • Around my university labs. Had a room of seven... for the Abbott and Costello fun of it, they are who, what, where, why, when, which, and how. Have another room (12) with Chinese Zodiac signs. Though not the reverse-name, I love the ability to 'telnet cock'. Didn't some university have a lab where all the machines had STD names (syphillis, gonhereea, etc)?
  • What about
    • Gates
    • Jobs
    • Ellison
    • Metcalfe
    etc., etc...
  • We had Borg and McEnroe at UNC; nowadays Sampras, Agassi, Williams, Hingis, et al could be used...
  • NT = No Text. Why are you reading this?
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:
  • When was the last time you sat through a Linux boot and upon execution of "scandisk" were required to hit "Fix" fourty-one-thousand and three times because the UI designers decided it would be too hard to add a "Fix All" button? e2fsck -p, my friend.

    Be fair. (It's good for credibility.) Any time there's a semi-serious problem, you're gonna be hitting y for quite a while w/ fsck.

    I've lost entire file systems more than a few times because of an unscheduled reboot, incidentally. The same has happened, incidentally, w/ NTFS, but never, ever, ever with FAT/FAT32.

    It's actually enough that there's a semi-decent chance I'll make my MP3 partition a Fat32 one.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com

    P.S. Don't tell me Solaris is any better; it made some noises significantly scarier than "extra bytes discovered" when I recently bungled a shutdown.

  • That's like saying that cars these days have gotten quite good at protecting their drivers from fatal crashes. The statement may be true, but that sort of thing should still NEVER happen. It is to be avoided at almost all costs.

    No. You don't understand.

    If you slam the power button on a FAT/FAT32 box, you're not gonna lose the partition.

    You can't say the same for a Linux box using ext2, or even a Solaris box using UFS. From *VERY PAINFUL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE*, you have quite a decent chance of damaging some serious stuff, and way more than an unheard of possibility of just completely losing the filesystem.

    FAT/FAT32 can recover from random reboots without a problem. It's simple enough to just not have the same kind of problems as Linux w/ ext2.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com

  • Names like Hindenberg, Titanic, Andrea Doria, Valdez, Challenger should be reserved for Windows machines.

    In all fairness, Windows has gotten quite good at handling random reboots.

    This is not a strong area of ext2, to say the least.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com

  • Naming objects after something or someone is a time honored human tradition, enjoyed by cathedrals(Saints), weapons of war, and federal buildings.

    Descriptive (as opposed to family class) Numbers belong in IPs, not in the names. Management which attempts to look professional by forcing mnemonics out of names is merely making their staff less efficient; humans are shockingly efficient at handling large numbers of names.

    We're not that good at identifying objects by number, unless those numbers are drastically inconsistent(thus, the low number of phone numbers we know that are almost identical).

    Myth, Literature, Movies, Movie Genres, Computer Components, Biology(I'm itching to have a Mitochondrial web cluster), Famous Wars, Famous Scientists, Tremendous Disasters(Hindenberg just went up in flames), Great Treaties(Versailles is looking OK for now...but I have a feeling it might fall apart), etc.

    Humor is always good, but mainly when its subtle. That way, there's always plausable deniability.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com

  • Marion - Celeron 400 RH 6.0
    Jane - Mac Duo 230
    Edith - Cyrix MII 300 Caldera 2.2
    Molly - Celeron 366 Win95

    Don't know why, but these name entertain me.

    Prolly need a hazel and martha too. :)
  • At home, I generally use Seinfeld names (my Linux server's always been Kramer, my wife's iMac is Elaine, my old 7200 is Jerry, and my Win98 PC is George - the lovable loser that he is). My iBook is named toiletseat, and my old PowerBook 3400 is named Beanie, for the propellerhead hat icon I used for the hard drive. My Mandrake workstation is named Bushwood, the country club from Caddyshack (my all-time favorite film, since I love low comedy and play a lot of golf).

    At my old company, the servers had boring names, but the shares were all with a different theme for each server. We had Ren & Stimpy, the Simpsons, the Brady Bunch, and the Beatles (after the first four, we moved on to Beatle wives, first wives, Pete Best, and Stu Sutcliffe). We use boring names at the place I work now (don't blame me - we were using the scheme when I got here). We just name the server for it's task (Company-Mail, Company-Production, Company-File, etc).

    Another thing at my old company - I had one of the cool (at the time) Mac Quadra 840AV systems, with the DSP chip for video and audio processing. Then I needed to give it up for our color department, but I kept the drive and put it in a slower Mac. The Mac was renamed Helen Keller, since it was both blind and deaf. From then until the day I left, That remained the name of whatever Mac I used.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • A boring way of naming serverfs, but an effective one, is to name them after geographical features. Here at Elsevier (my current employer) servers are named after mountains, workstations after smaller features. My two machines are named after small rivers ...


    Chris Wareham
  • Sun hardware often has wacky codenames - my favourites being the `Happy Meal' and `Big Mac' ethernet cards.

    Chris Wareham
  • by jra (5600)
    > and it's in iambic pentameter.

    Actually, it's not. Right after I originally wrote it, and it was published, a correspondent explained to me that the meter it _is_ in is called 'anapestic tetrameter'.

    I just liked the joke. :-)

    Cheers,
  • I try to name machines after their physical appearance:
    • PS/2 Model 80 [ibm.com] - behemoth
    • PS/2 E [tripod.com] - stripe (because of the green stripe running round the outside)
    (I also have a machine named grotto, for similar but obscure reasons.) But most PCs these days don't look as distinctive - and you will probably have many looking the same.
    I still have a P90 to put together, maybe I'll name it Dark Star, since right now it's apart, in formless pieces of matter.

    Hmm, darkstar, that was the default hostname that Slackware chose for you, back when I used it. Is it still the same now?

  • 1. a boss at a company I know likes naming them after Islands and Island groups. I guess he hates Yankee weather.
    2. Bloom County characters.
    3. Norse Gods.
    4. Sci-Fi authors.
    5. Some mail servers I know of are named after
    nearby train stations.

  • almost EVERY company I've worked for uses greek/roman gods (and badly misspelt, as well.)

    So when I got control of the DNS zone, my first sysadminial job was to give decent hostnames.

    One IP block got characters from J.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and "Silmarillion."

    The other got Sumerian/Babylonian gods. Nothing like logging into marduuk to feel better about yourself.

    AS for my domain, I just make as many cheezy puns involving thw word 'breakdown' as i can (the server in my info is down btw)

    chemical.breakdown.org
    nervous.breakdown.org
    mental.breakdown.org
    emotional.breakdown.org
    molecular.breakdown.org
    total.breakdown.org
    communications.breakdown.org (my *backup* mail server, isn't that witty!)

    Basically, if I see another greek/Roman naming convention, I will have to slap people silly. There are hordes of fun pagan pantheons to use. Hell, they don't even need to be REAL! yog-sothoth.foo.com would be fun to admin.

    I can picture an exasperated sysadmin. "Yog-sothoth is possessed, I swear." "What could possibly possess a machine named after a demon?" ( || "Something worse: NT.")
  • First point: It's all about the CNAME's. You CAN name your servers anything you want, and register CNAME's for any boring naming scheme the PHB's want to enforce. They will never even know, and everyone's happy.

    Second point: I like to name servers after words that I like. It's not a very coherent scheme, as these words can sometimes be names, sometimes moods, sometimes adjectives. But they're all words that I like, so as far as I care, it's a perfectly rational naming convention (as in, I can always tell if a name is part of the "potential names set" simply bty thinking: 'Do I like it?'). My current machines are named continuity (and you all know where that comes from, right?), paranoia, and velocity. I'd think of some more, but I haven't had enough coffee yet today. My vocabulary hasn't woken up yet.

    ----
    Morning gray ignites a twisted mass of colors shapes and sounds

  • When I worked at CTP, we had machines with names from the Hobbit. Except the administrator was not familiar with the Hobbit, and somehow managed to spell all the names *wrong*. So we had names like Billbo (should be Bilbo) and Gollim (should be gollum I think).

    My machines at home are named for elements. My Thinkpad 486/33 printer server is named Hydrogen. My main work machine is named Helium. I have a Thinkpad laptop that is named Lithium. I used to have a machine for experimentation named Beryllium, but that's too much to type so I named it Boron instead. My wife's machine is named Platinum because that's the substance our wedding rings are made of.

    And the really nice thing about these element names is that they have standard abbreviations, so I can type telnet lithium, or I can type telnet li. I have noticed that some programs do not like single character machine names, so telnet h to reach the machine named hydrogen doesn't work.



  • We succesfully argued that while "utilitarian" machine names may make sense on workstations, they're completely unhelpful on servers. We want names that are short, catchy, and easy to remember, not mouthfuls of characters & digits. Then we can alias them to more "practical" names in the DNS if necessary.

    In fact, this is much handier than ordinary 'descriptive' names. For example, we're in the process of replacing our old single-CPU mail server with a new SMP box... At the moment 'mail' is aliased to the old box, 'hermes', while we prepare the new one. Once it's ready to go, we transfer the accounts & spoolfiles, adjust the DNS so 'mail' -> 'coyote' and voila -- the users don't see a blip.

    I tend to prefer mythological/religious names, probably because they command a little more awe and respect than names like "Tweety" and "Goofy". Unfortunately, I'm no good at keeping it within one culture...

    At the moment:

    mail server: Hermes
    mail server-to-be: Coyote
    Intranet & "Knowledge Base": Thoth
    Webserver: StellaMaris

    Oh, and at home, the outside of my firewall is named "elohim" and the inside is "metatron"... Mmm, cabalistic humor.

    --
    perl -e '$_="06fde129ae54c1b4c8152374c00";
    s/(.)/printf "%c",(10,32,65,67,69,72,
  • I never really heard of Korolev. Thanks for the suggestion. I heard of Tsiolkovsky and am considering him. Maybe I'll just have to get two computers.

    ~afniv
    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • Here where I work, most of the names of the machines are names of different brands of junk food (although some have gone to brands of beer). For instance my machine is Swissroll, the file server is Twinkie, and we have other machines like Twizzler, Blowpop, Jolt, Pretzels and so on.

    In another part of the company they started naming machines after planets, which was okay until they got to Uranus... It leads to questions like: "Where's Pluto? -- Over by Uranus!" ;-)

    hehehe
  • Sad, but true.

    I work (well, am actually a member of) an LLC with a very flat management structure. All of the technical people have the job title of "Systems Engineer" whether we program, manage the telecom system, the LAN, or the WAN. Since most of us wear multiple hats, anything more specific would be deceptive anyway. "Glorified Computer Nerd" would probably be more accurate (and would probably help to weed out perspective employees who are humor impaired if put on one's resume), but even that would be too specific, as some of us manage the phone system as well.

    Titles really aren't that meaningful -- any smart employer is going to pay much more attention to the job description, and descriptions of past projects, when looking over resumes, than the job title. I still can't believe people will actually accept job title upgrades/changes in liue of a raise -- indeed, I wouldn't have believed it at all if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, at a previous job. Personally, I work for money, not prestige. My good luck that I was able to make a hobby a career, and really enjoy what I do, and as long as the pay is right, I don't care if they call me "Systems Engineer" or "Computer Custodian".

    PS - I like your naming convention!
  • Freedom of naming our servers is a fundamental systems admin right! They'll take that away when the pry my trackball from my cold, dead hand!

    Our naming convention is to name all Windows boxes after dinasaurs (guess why?), all sun workstations and servers after stars (ok, that's kind of boring, but millionair names kept getting more and more diffuclt to come up with and spell, even if you do have to be one to own one of those machines yourself), linux boxes after countries, with some exceptions for firewall, routers, and the like ...

    Of course, since I define that stuff, I'm free to change it at will. The names do sound reasonably professional, and only insiders really understand why that flakey NT box, due to be phased out soon, is called stegosaurus. :-)
  • Names like Hindenberg, Titanic, Andrea Doria, Valdez, Challenger should be reserved for Windows machines.
  • My office uses WWII generals - it's a small work group so it's not really an issue.

    Personally, I feel that since we are an international company, something more universal would be appropriate. I favor celestial bodies. Pick the scale depending on the network size (server count).

    Stars if there are many servers, planets if there are few. This also works well with constellations, Greek/Roman mythology... Then go Assyrian, Egyptian, Hindu, Norse.

    Ancient religions are particularly apropos for global (or multi-OS) companies, since they can suggest the geographical location of the server (or divvy up the servers thematically by OS), as well as denoting their function. You may have to do some digging to find the name of the Egyptian messenger god for your North African SMTP server, but it's a learning experience, and you'll never forget it. A firewall named Charon is cool as hell, as is a web server named Arachne...

    You're absolutely right. Cryptic, machine server names take the joy out of it. The network naming conventions should reflect the personality of it's handlers and of the organization they serve.
  • When we had to set up the network for our company at the start of the year, it was agreed that we'd use SciFi chicks (and SciFi men for the ladies in the firm). Works pretty well. Can't get more appropriate than Ivanova for a firewall! Mmmm ... Zef ...
  • We picked a convention that lets us have a little fun, but still walks the "professional corporate line."

    We're a communications and navigations manufacturer, so we chose cities. Toronto, Berlin, etc... The entertaining part (for geeks like me) is when the names mean something. Here's a quick list of some of the better ones:

    Alexandria -- web server
    Pergamum -- backup web server
    Istanbul -- e-commerce server
    Chernobyl -- test Netware box
    Shiloh -- test AS/400 box

    and my favorite (although not very PC, it seems that most everyone can take a joke)

    Dresden -- firewall

    Of course, Rockwell's firewall is asbestos - pretty hard to top that.

    I've also used classical composers and great authors for names. Gives you an ego kick when someone asks "Who the hell is Kafka?"
  • But don't use a CNAME for an MX or an NS. :)

    I generally do manual-cname for things like 'mail'. I point the name at the right box, but I don't use a CNAME, or I wouldn't be able to use it as an MX.

    But, I *do* give the machine a "real" name that reflects the box, not the job.
  • Um, hate to be the guy to point this out, since the article & posts make so many good points, but the "tree" names Oak, Ash, Thorn, etc. that are so "unimaginative" and "don't relate to function" are probably the results of an earlier admininstrator who has read one of the many translations of the great epic The Battle of the Trees (or Cad Goddeau). This work is fundamental to understanding pre-christian Celtic cultures, and was the major topic of Robert Graves' magnum opus The White Goddess . Written as a long poem with debatable religious connotations, the Cad lists attributes and deeds of the various trees, and encrypts the ogham alphabet.
    A much more global, understandable, and useful convention than "Xmen", whatever they are. And if you're into offending the politically correct, it's also a way to suggest the scandalous idea that white folks might have an ethnic heritage.
    --Charlie
  • Hmmm,
    Only fools and horses characters (brit slant, but very amusing)
    Philosophers - lots of long names though :-(
    Plaid and Boards of Canada song names.
    Local stars - eridani, tau_ceti etc. etc.
    Gnu people - richard, eric etc. etc.
    random latin - keeps the PHBs happy.
    and my personal favorite: porn stars!

    I think the thought police are after me though - I was thinking a couple of days ago how cool it would be to swap naming conventions on /. spooky eh?
  • Explain to management that a machine's name is different from what it does. It might make sense to name your primary database server "SQL1", but two years down the road, it'll be too old and feeble to do any serious database work, and you'll put it on someone's desk to read mail with. Then that person will wind up with a workstation named SQL1, which is bogus.

    Machines (and their names) come and go. Use CNAME records to indicate a machine's functionality. Make "SQL1" a CNAME that points to "Goofy" today, and "Cyclops" tomorrow after you upgrade.
  • I can relate to this. Fortunately, my employer doesn't care much what the servers are called so I've taken it upon myself to give them describing names. At home, I use names from The Belgariad because the traits in some of the characters can relate somewhat to the computer itself. Who would not instantly get a grasp of what the computer beldin must look like?


    Back to work then; I will be naming workstations too, and there I'm thinking of a general theme per room such as a book and the computers having names from that theme or book. For the servers, I'm giving them more descriptive names that explains what the computer is and does. Some examples are crash-and-burn which actually COULD be a Win98 station with a CD-RW, but it's in fact the name I use for installations I work with, play with, throw in the floor and in general aren't very nice too. The server which will hold the WinNT profiles is ofcourse named profiler and my laptop to which I tunnel an IP-number to whereever I am is called circuitous-route.

  • We usually go with a theme for various computers. Employee computers are named after certain things, servers after another theme, etc. Here's some of the one's we've used that last a long time with naming...

    Saturday Night Live Names:
    Garth, Wayne, Carsenio, Churchlady, Landshark, Hans, Frans, etc.

    Simpsons:
    Homer, Marge, Smithers, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, MrBurns, etc.

    Star Wars:
    Luke, Leia, Han, Jabba, Anakin, C3PO, R2D2, Biggs, ObiWan, etc.

    Really anything that has a lot of neverending names work well. These three we feel here work best and will always have some new name, even when you think they ran out.
  • While it may sound silly I worked at a university library. To keep all the names 'sensible', each department decided on a naming group. So all the computers in tech services were named after candy bars. The admin section was named after writters (which really made sense), and the main servers were to be named after past presidents of the library. This actually made sense, and in a way you got an idea of what you had to deal with when you knew which machine had problems. So the guy who had bradbury as his machine gave you a clue as to what type of person he was. Of course we also had a computer named dominatrix.
    -cpd
  • check rfc2100 [ohio-state.edu] out. This is a _true_ guide to naming a box (and it's in iambic pentameter).

    Also, the company i work for has a customer who named all of their boxes after sesame street characters. You'd think it'd be easy , but try and name 10 of 'em...after you get past the big birds and oscars, you end up spending hours trying to figure out the name of the garbage man (bruno)..
  • I totally agree on giving nice looking and sounding names to machines. I used to give names related to music (coz' I l0ve music =) like "funky", "dance", "bossa" or whatever.

    My experience as a sysadmin (was Good Time back then) is that everything is prettier if you use a fixed name length, 5 chars is a good choice. It helps you having well formatted config and log files, thus making sysadmin tasks easier.

    hope this helps

    A+
  • In order to avoid "stupid" names our former illustrious leader instituted an excellent naming scheme. We can use any name we like as long as it comes from a standard Ordnance Survey Map (Whitby and surrounding area)

    This sounds dull, but we have machines like tumulus, potato, hackness, scratch and scar.

    We haven't yet used "Hole of Horcum" or "Lower Bell End" but one day they will take their place alongside Dismantled, and Danger Area.

    Zwack (on Claymoor, as I'm Scottish)
  • Actually, xmen.com appears to be a sports/gambling site with some rather racy nude/swimsuit pictures. The most annoying thing (besides that fact that it contains no pictures of wolverine) is that it does whisk you off to porn-jack land, which can be rather bothersome when you are at work. I agree that Rob sould be a little more careful and check out links before posting them.

    BTW, the real marvel comics x-men [marvelcomics.com] site is here.

  • At work, I named all the servers after farm animals. The name matches up to the servers function in (occassionally) wierd, convulted ways. Eg: our primary fileserver is called Pig. Logic: pigs wallow in mud and shit. Fileservers build up giantantic collections of shit over the course of months and years.

    The firewall is, of course, called goat. Goats eat everything. The firewall . . . well . . . :-)

    The webserver (static content) is called sheep. Because sheeps are pretty unexciting creatures. And when you think about it, once everything is up and running webservers aren't that exciting either.

    The NT domino server is named Ox, because of its elegance and speed. The other NT server doesn't have an animal name, but it is called Blimp in honor of the size of the OS that runs on it.

    The mail exchange is called cow. Since cows basically munch grass all day, and "cow" does the same for mail.

  • ...for NT machines. =)

    Actually, it makes sense...because they used to call Titanic unsinkable, whereas HP sells the "unstoppable" Windows NT!

  • I disagree with the suggestion that my name is either boring or hideous, and I would like to recommend a software upgrade.

    You can expect to hear from my sister too. :-)

    Love
    Molly.
  • Ohhhh, that bugs me too.

    People getting a CNE or MCSE and calling themselves engineers. It's not their fault. It's obvious whose fault it is.

    As an engineering student I was always told it was illegal to say that you were an engineer if you really weren't.

    To be an engineer... I think that if you are eligible for entry in an engineering association (such as IEEE for all the EEs) as a full engineer, only then are you an engineer.
  • When I started working at my company, they had CSSI-FS1 and NTSERVER. Now, we've got Hamlet and Carrot. It's not much, but like they say: it's the little victories that count :)

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Uh-huh, someday I'm gonna have to name a FreeBSD one Lovelight.

    "Turn it on, and leave it on!"

    And for all the people buying RedHat stock, "Estimated-Profit", naw, too long.

    Maybe Samson and Delilah for a PDC and backup DC.

    ObMSTroll: For NT, helena-bucket.

    George
  • ObMS Troll

    And you can name your NT server Necromonicon, because understanding it inside and out will drive you insane.

    George
  • Hmm, who are you missing?

    Maybe naming a DEC server John, well, it used to big a decade or so again, but no one's heard of him since.

    Or naming an old 486 festooned with SCSI cards and extra drives and such Jerry. It's old, it's cumbersome, but it keeps on truckin'.

    A NeXT server named StevieRay, lots of potential, but died way too young.

    George
  • The first server I ever had the chance to name, I named Wintermute. This was in 1991, and it was a screamer, a 486/66 with 8 megs of Ram, 2 1 gig SCSI drivers and SCO/Unix, whoa boy!

    For my PC's at home, I use the names of Grateful Dead songs.

    My IBM PC330 I named Liberty. A catchy little thing, but with few prospects for expansion (3 slots, 3 drive bays, feh!).

    I named the Cyrixed 486 I bought for $5 at a garage sale Deal, though only runs for a few days before the hardware makes it crash. It's due for a motherboard replacement.

    I named the Dell 486 I bought at a garage sale ( I overpaid, but I had little time and I desperately needed a running server) Terrapin, becuase it keeps going, and going, and going ( you need to have seen the Dead do Terrapin Station live to appreciate this).

    I still have a P90 to put together, maybe I'll name it Dark Star, since right now it's apart, in formless pieces of matter.

    George
  • I've suggested on several occaisons that "thaumaturg" would be expressive
    I'm looking for a job that will let me claim "TechnoMage" as my title. Maybe I'll put that on the business cards for my side consulting work - "Infamous Productions - Tom Swiss, proprietor and Chief TechnoMage."

    I've also seen "Speaker to Teletypes" and "Head Robot Wrangeler" in people's .sigs.

  • Don't forget Tully Monster and Grover, my favorites.
  • "Actually our undergrad lab admins named some 50-60 nt workstations after the simpsons characters. It is quite fun to log onto
    Dr.MarvinMonroe or Mrs.Lovejoy."

    Ours too, it was great. You could log into Krusty and next you would be Chief Wiggum, and Troy McClure. We may have also had Itchy and Scratchy.
  • Some of our machines are named after the Dilbert cartoon:

    Dilbert
    Dogbert
    etc...
  • Waitasec. If this was for Japanese clientel, how on earth are they expected to know Canadian provinces, let alone the abbreviations for them. I'm glad our machines aren't named after abbreviations for Russian provinces, e.g.
  • Add two more servers, Yaweh and Allah, and thinks start to get combustible ;)
  • It sounds like a lot of people commenting on this thread don't have to take care of over 5000 machines running multiple flavors AND versions of *ix, NT, along with multiple NFS servers offering terrabytes of data, AFS servers also offering a ton of data, with everything working across multiple physical sites.

    Creative naming schemes are fun when your environment is small. They don't scale though. There are times when it's nice to be able to grep the NIS hosts map for a pattern and know you just tagged every machine in the env running Solaris 2.6 on SuperSparc architectures.

    -AutumnLeaf
  • The admins here where I work named one type of the large machines we work on after Top Gun characters - Iceman, Maverick, Goose, Viper, Merlin, etc. Then they named another type after boxers - Foreman, Frazier, etc (those are very hard to remember).

    They've also grouped some of the sun workstations by planet. I'm in the mars group, they've also got saturn, mercury, etc...

    I personally would name my machines after bad weather - lightning, thunder, blizzard, cyclone, tornado, hail, hurricane. Though I was naming my x-terms after Djinns/Efreets from Magic: The Gathering. Juzam, Mahamoti, etc...
    ---
  • Here's why. A machine can change its function, and a function can be carried out by more than one machine. And machines can carry out more than one function. There is no straightforward one-to-one link between names and functions - so don't try to force one.

    There's another, more important reason why your server names should not reflect their functionality. It's a security issue; you don't want intruders to understand your network architecture at first glance by just looking at the names of the servers.

    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • All right Mr. Whipple, you were the first one who didn't mention a search engine (doesn't anyone use their heads any more?).

    Gave that man a virtual Weizenbier, put it on my tab.

    Got a twenty-seven B stroke six?
    • gilligan, skipper, thurston, lovey, ginger, professor, maryann
    • lowry, tuttle, buttle, layton, lint

    I'll buy a virtual beer for whoever figures out the reference of the second list.
  • What about borg name's they sound professional
    e.g. you can call your SQL servers 1of3 2of3 and 3of3 :-)

    ---
  • I always liked the idea of cheeses for server names. Trouble is, as you say, all of the good ones are too damn long. no sysadmin is going to want to type:

    telnet swaledale-with-old-peculier

    or

    ping venezualan-beaver-cheese

    Of course, edam is short and simple, as is yarg (from Cornwall). I'd recommend the Monty Python cheese shop sketch for a good (if somewhat out of date) list of cheeses.

    HH
  • I always chuckle when I read that my 3/60's codename was ferrari. (doesnt seem so fast anymore tho...)
  • My workstation at home is named yog-sothoth. It's a dual-Celeron overclocked to 450Mhz that runs Linux, Windoze and BeOS at various times. Rather appropriate I thought.

    (For those not familiar with Lovecraft's pantheon of Elder Gods, Yog-sothoth was one of the more powerful of the Elder and had many shapes in which he/it would appear.)

    Although I personally haven't stuck to any specific grouping for machines on my home network. Although most come from some sort of literature or fiction, there's no set pattern: cydonia, binky, yog-sothoth, zorak, vargas.... If I try to keep in a particular "category" of naming, I always wind up running out of names.

    I overwhelmingly agree that "real" names should be associated with computers rather than some sort of symbol. One of our clients decided to name all the machines in their office by what phone extension they were sitting next to. Needless to say that in the year or so I've been there, all machines have moved offices many times and new machines have replaced olf machines and I lose more hair and the B.P. goes up another ten points every time that happens. Can't convince them to change the naming scheme, though....

    -=-=-=-=-

  • This scheme works out really well :

    The elite Pz Divisions for the big iron, such as Liebstandarte, Das Reich and Totenkopf.

    Then there are a number of second line Pz Divisions, as well as several Panzer Grenadier Division for support boxes.

    Then there are a number of specialist units such as 12th SS Pz Div Hitler Jugend - the young and reckless box (test environment).

    Lastly there are a number of foreign legion divisions such as Galacia, Wiking, etc, etc.

    The wonderous thing about this scheme is that each Division has a unique number (which all computer staff have to be familiar with of course), which you can use for unique number in the IP address scheme !!!

    Once this has been done, you can then name development projects after towns in Russia and re-live Barbarossa all over again ...

    For weekly meetings, make sure that your development staff all attend in period costume, each divisional 'General' in turn can snap to attention, deliver their report in short and sharp tones, and then click their heels loudly ...

    You should see the look of total puzzlement on management's faces when you conclude your weekly activity reports with - 'Ve have trapped Die Bolschevisten in the Kharkov pocket and 3rd SS Pz Das Reich vill smash them by the end of ze veek ... Sieg Heil !!!'

    You can of course change the subject matter if not being completely PC is more to your liking .. In another company that I know of, the IT manager turned up to the board meeting dressed as Cortez, (complete with conquistador helmet) with his retinue dressed as Catholic priests and inquisitors ..

    When concluding his report, he pounded his fist onto the table and declared that 'By months end, the Toltec empire will be ours, and by the Grace of God, the gold of the Mayan temples would be sailing forwith for Spain ! - Long Live His Majesty !'

  • I used to work at Oxford University, called my servers Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Bud, Lou etc. But the best was the department that studied disease etc. theirs were called Typhoid, Cholera, Plague etc!
  • First, never *ever* name the computers after the function they do (e.g. Billing, Accounting, Support, Engineering, ...etc.) nor by the people that are using them (JohnB, GregC, ...etc.

    Companies and divisions get merged or eliminated and you have to live with the misnomer. Also people move on, and name stays. We had a printer called Hashmi after the guy left the office (and eventually the whole company) for YEARS...

    Also, never name the machines by their vendor, serial number, model, ...etc. Anyone remembers the machine called VAX somewhere in the UUCP mail days, and it got replaced by a Sun, but was still called VAX?

    Some nice themes include:

    • Astronomy and Universe: Planets, Galaxies, stars, you can even go the Messier catalog if you like...WIll never run out of names.
    • Fish: Well, there are two many of them, and I name the big machine "shark", my laptop "grouper", ...etc.
    • Elements: Yes, it is a bad idea for a large site (thorium, lithium, uranium, plumbum). I tried to talk my friend (hi Geoff!) into not doing it, but Aussies are so stubborn and get their way...

    • --

  • Actually, that's what comments in the NIS host map are for, in combination with custom Perl scripts. Then you can have ALL kinds of useful info, including architecture, OS, network connection, physical location, shelf-space #, current primary responsible admin, etc... Try doing that in a 8-16 character hostname.

    Tim Gaastra
  • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:43AM (#1578109) Homepage Journal
    Do logical names help anyone? Really?

    Let's say you have the "logical" name of Linux2214pc. Does that "tell" you what it does? Nope. Does it say what Linux extensions it has? Nope. Does it tell you what software is installed? Nope. Will it remain valid, after the next kernel patch is installed? Nope.

    Now, I -do- logically name kernels, by what additional patches are in there. Now, I don't -have- to, but it's handy. I could -equally- use names of characters (real or imaginary) that symbolise those same characteristics.

    Now, I'm going to turn the question around. Which is more "logical"? A name that has no permanent, derived connection with the machine, or a name which symbolises the very essence of what's there?

    IMHO, the answer is simple. It's actually =ILLOGICAL= to name computers after OS versions, location on a network, or some other transitory feature. You move the machine, install a security patch, or add some capability, and the name becomes invalid. That is not logical. YOUR name doesn't become invalid, every time you read a book or move house! Why should a computer's?

    What IS logical is to choose a name which symbolises the essence of what you're going to do with the computer. This will be far less subject to change than mere physical location. If I pick the name "Gandalf" for a computer, the chances are it's NOT going to be for word-processing. Most people know a newspaper is a place to turn for information, so a server called "ThePress" or "Tabloid" is readily identified for what it does.

    I know, dull corporations prefer dull names. However, all is not lost. Either alias or multihome your servers. eg: Use a STABLE, SYMBOLIC name as the principle name, and use the unstable, lacklustre, corporate name as an alias. That way, you (and other general users) can know what's where, and the bosses can be happy, all at the same time.

    (Sadly, I doubt many exec's would comprehend the benefits of compromise, like this.)

  • by Booker (6173) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:40AM (#1578110) Homepage
    My tiny lan at home is named after beer styles. The beefier the machine, the darker the beer.

    SMP 450Mhz workstation is "Porter"
    200Mhz gateway is "Lager"
    133Mhz laptop is "Weizen"
    486sx-25 laptop is... "Lite"

    Maybe someday I can afford a "Stout" - or even "Barleywine!"
    :)
  • by mpk (10222) <mpk@uffish.net> on Friday October 29, 1999 @10:08AM (#1578111) Homepage
    It's important not to get carried away when naming machines - yes, you need a good scheme and things like "svr001359" are boring and unintuitive, but bear a few things in mind:
    1. Keep expansion in mind - there's no use naming your four machines after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if you're going to have a fifth machine come along some day. Something nice and open ended is a good bet - trees, asteroids, countries, as opposed to musketeers, David Bowie albums or deadly sins.
    2. Keep 'em brief - it may be extremely cool to call your machines bananadaiquiri or slowcomfortablescrew, but after a while you're going to get really bored of typing those names over and over again. About 6-8 characters is a good maximum.
    3. Don't give machines role names - "www", "mail" and "news" are what CNAMEs are for. Give the machines the dignity of a proper name.
    4. Alphabeticals only - for the sake of simplicity (and speed of typing) it's best to stick to a-z only. Keep those underscores right out (they're not allowed, IIRC, folks - check your RFCs) - mr_gumby is just as legible when it's mrgumby.
    5. Be interesting! - try to think of something offbeat that will keep people thinking until they work out where it's from or, even better, give in and have to ask. One of my prouder achievements is naming a lab of 20 machines after priests [geocities.com] from the TV series "Father Ted". If you want to name your machines after planets, that's fine, but just remember that, if I recall correctly, "venus" was the most popular hostname on the Internet until everything suddenly became "www".

    Just a few thoughts from a few years of working in academia, the land of interesting names. My last department had machines named after... characters in "Robin Hood" (guess where), cartoon characters, racing drivers, racing circuits, sleazy politicians, participants in royal scandals, priests, fruits beginning with "p", characters from "Red Dwarf", famous traitors, emotions, and.. and.. different naming schemes for different labs or groups. As well as being interesting and varied, this has the added advantage of knowing exactly where a machine is once you know how the schemes work, which isn't as easy when all you have to go on is a random number like "sun0195".
    And last but not least, rainstorming for machine names is a great way to liven up a dull meeting.
  • by rde (17364) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:35AM (#1578112)
    But history has shown how easy it is to get through Trotsky's ICE.

    Now that I think of it, though, it makes sense. If Boris Yeltsin is naming his servers after all his prime ministers, then every time he gets a new box he's got to change PMs.
    Wanna precipitate another crisis in Russia? Send Boris a laptop.
  • by rcw-work (30090) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:46AM (#1578113)
    grep lly\$ /usr/share/dict/words | sed s-lly\$-.lly.org-g | less

    So far out of that list I've used frantica, maxima, abnorma, awfu, musica, termina, fata, norma, individua, geographica, idea, and sexua.

    The possibilities are endless.

  • Remember that computers can have multiple names! Thus, you can use multiple schemes. One scheme which seems to work is:

    1: Every functional machine type (firewall, app server, DB server, communication server, personal) gets a theme. If you are feeling cute enough, the themes are related (like mammals/fish/insects/birds). In most places, machines don't change functional groups often: once a machine is installed as a database server, it will never serve as anything but a database server.

    2: Every machine gets a name based on its group theme. This is the canonical name of the box.

    3: If those in power want to use machine-understandable names, make them the canonical names. Then take theme names and bind them to the machine-understandable names, so that HP102x is always, say, Everest, no matter what else happens to the machine. The theme name will likely become the canonical name in everyday speech.

    4: Machines get functional names based on their current function. The second mail server gets the name mail_2 or somesuch. This is a secondary name. If the box gets reassigned as a Web server, it gets renamed www_2 or somesuch.

    4a: Personal machines (desktops, laptops, Palm Pilots, Dreamcasts...) get a functional name based on their primary user (usually username). If people get multiple computers, they get prefixes or suffixes. Thus, I could have a Linux machine named l_remande, and an NT machine called n_remande. Resist the temptation to make the username name the canonical name; the machine has to get renamed when its primary user leaves your operation, and that often happens more often than computers obsolescing.

    The username name is more important than it sounds. People will forget the canonical names of each others' machines (because you never use them), but need to know them to fix them. If I am told that Mary's machine has a problem, I don't have to guess whether I have to log into "mako" or "bluefin", I just log into "mary".

    5: When setting up a resource farm (where people can access one of many machines), make sure that all the names are easy to remember and easy to type. At WPI, there was a lab full of DECStations that all answered to things from Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension. Most of the load was on "yaya"; little of it went onto boxes like "planet_10" or "bigboote". The problem was that lazy users saved keystrokes with "telnet yaya", and you don't risk misspelling "bigboote". Elsewhere on campus, it was worse: a math lab had machines named after mathemeticians. Everybody logged onto "godel" and "newton"; I don't even remember the names of the other boxen.

    6: Side note: in-jokes work. In the aforementioned Banzai lab, one of the DECStations was still down as the students arrived. By the time it was repaired and booted, it got the name "realsoon". One user at another site had three computers, and the theme was artificial intelligence: he had "huey", "dewey", and "louie" (from Silent Running, not Disney).

    7:Good themes share some common attributes. They should have a large, if not infinite, range of names (name them after states, and you can only run fifty machines). The theme should either be extremely obvious (like many nature themes), or be easy to gain context on. Buckaroo Banzai isn't too bad, as you can rent the video: cult movie characters are worse, as you would have to rent a lot of movies to get the joke. People's names are bad: names strange enough not to conflict with the user base are often too strange to remember or type.

    These are all internal naming conventions. External names should be different.

  • by remande (31154) <remande AT bigfoot DOT com> on Friday October 29, 1999 @07:57AM (#1578115) Homepage
    At a former job, we set up an SCO Xenix build server. In the true spirit of short names for lazy typing, we named the machine xb, for Xenix Build. Everything promptly broke.

    We couldn't figure out what happened for a while, until someone typed the command:

    telnet xb

    And got back something to the effect of:

    telnet: cannot connect to 0.0.0.11

    Telnet had read xb, not as a machine name, but as a hexidecimal IP address!

    It quickly became xblb (Xenix Build Lab), solving the problem.

  • by MaxVlast (103795) <maxim.sla@to> on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:18AM (#1578116) Homepage

    Josef
    Leonid
    Yuri
    Maxim
    Vladimir
    and Leon (Trotsky) is coming soon.

    --
    Max V.
  • by Wah (30840) on Friday October 29, 1999 @08:18AM (#1578117) Homepage Journal
    Don't forget about Alchohol, Nicotine, Prozac, and Viagra. Thinks about it..

    "What's the average uptime for Viagra?"

    "How long has he been on Crack?"

    "LSD seems to make the network act funny."
  • by Blrfl (46596) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:28AM (#1578118) Homepage
    RFC 1178 [ohio-state.edu] has some good things to say on the topic, too.
  • There are very good reasons for giving particular machines "fun" names which don't relate to their form or function, except perhaps in indirect ways. It's all about future planning. Here are some suggested principles to use when selecting names for machines on a network.

    1. Don't choose names which relate to funcionality.

    This sounds like a joke ("he's saying DON'T use helpful names? huh?") but I'm quite serious. The new machine you are now installing might indeed be destined to run the mail server. All the same, don't name it "mail" or "mail1" or anything like that.

    Here's why. A machine can change its function, and a function can be carried out by more than one machine. And machines can carry out more than one function. There is no straightforward one-to-one link between names and functions - so don't try to force one.

    It's quite possible that at some point this new machine won't be the mail server any more. At that point, being called "mail" would be a more likely to confuse people than help them.

    It's equally possible that you might decide to run a news server on the machine - while it's still a mail server. Can you imagine the conversation?

    "I need some setup information for Netscape. What's our mail server called?"

    "It's called mail."

    "Oh, cool. That's easy. Now, what's the news server called?"

    "Uhm... also mail..."

    "Oh. Well that's dumb. OK. Finally I need to know what machine our LDAP server is on."

    "Uhm.. it's on 'news'".

    Not impressive, I think you'll agree.

    Here's what to do instead. Give the machines arbitrary names. Then put CNAMES in your DNS for the services pointing to the actual machines.

    If you can do that, you can tell people "our SMTP server is called 'SMTP'" and "our news server is called 'news'" and they can keep those settings for ever - you just change what the CNAME points to. You can even make the CNAME round-robin across several actual machines for load balancing - all without the user needing to know.

    This doesn't just apply to the traditional services, but also to your own applications. If you have a stock control computer which people telnet to, don't call it "stockctl". Call it "bart" and put in a CNAME pointing to it. Even if you think you'll never change anything, it's worth allowing for the possibility that you will at the start.

    2. Don't choose names which relate to form.

    This means, for instance, that if your new mail server is a Compaq, it's a bad idea to call it "compaq" or "compaq3" or "cpq00153533" where 153533 might be the serial number.

    Why's this bad? Because this information is a) useless, b) hard to remember, and c) likely to become wrong.

    If you have a hundred workstations mounting volumes off a machine called "cpq00153533" you're going to have a rough time the day you upgrade the box to "cpq00182243". (Such names are also hard to tab expand if you've set up tcsh to do that as I have.) Unless, of course you just decide to keep the old name, although it is now wrong as well as annoying.

    If you've called your machines "dellXXX", apart from trying to remember that "dell159" is your mailserver and "dell195" your quake server, you're going to be in difficulty when you replace some or all of them with IBMs.

    The fact is that the manufacturer, model or serial number actually tells you nothing you need to know about a system in day to day use. You might need to know about its disk configuration, contents of /etc/passwd, or available memory, but you will rarely need to remember if it's a 333Mhz or a 366Mhz - and if you do, it should be in your product inventory database (hosted on "ibm104032" of course).

    So, the principles in summary:

    • Don't use functional names as hostnames. Put in CNAMES for the functional names instead. You'll save yourself lots of grief in the long run.
    • Don't use names describing the physical setup, as that's useless, annoying, and incorrect far too often to be relied upon anyway.
    Applying these principles requires that there be an "intermediate" naming convention which deliberately does not convey information about function, and which also does not convey information about setup.

    I would suggest that this naming scheme should use names which are easy to type and remember rather than ones which are repetitive and formal. "srv001" through "srv999" might look nice and orderly, but in fact is much harder to remember and type than "rivers" or "cartoon characters" or "80's arcade games".

  • by SnickleFritz (17110) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:48AM (#1578120)
    Might as well as prepare for the worst. Sometimes they are tasteless but they seem to fit.

    Hindenburg
    Titanic
    Challenger
    Spruce Goose
    TowerofPiza
    Cubs
  • by dmorin (25609) <dmorin@gmail . c om> on Friday October 29, 1999 @06:39AM (#1578121) Homepage Journal
    1. My boss arrives, and establishes the first Solaris workstation for the team. He names it artichoke, because he is boring and went with a vegetable theme.
    2. I arrive next, and have always wanted to do Shakespearean characters (although I hear they are common, I've never gotten to use them). I have two machines to config, so I call them macbeth and macduff.
    3. The first sys admin is hired. He follow my lead and creates hamlet, prospero, lear, and falstaff.
    4. That admin, being a contractor, leaves us and is replaced. New admin sees macbeth and macduff and decides to go with the "mac-word" theme. Eschewing "macintosh" because it's too easy, he makes macnugget, macleod, mac-n-cheese(I don't know how he spelled it to make it legal) and macfly. He admits he stretched it in a few of those cases.
    5. Seeing "macfly" his assistant goes with the "taglines from 80's teen movies" naming scheme, and makes the next machine bueller.
    6. I don't know what comes next.
    I may have forgotten a few.
  • by Paul Johnson (33553) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:34AM (#1578122) Homepage
    You could point out to your bosses that names like LNXSOX2324 are not compliant with RFC2100 [isi.edu]. Also the ACM article referenced in it could reasonably be quoted as a summary of best practice in the industry.

    Paul.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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