Next_computer Someone asked on a discussion group I'm on about naming servers. As you probably know we name machines on our networks so we don't have to remember that the file server is 192.168.1.23 and the mail server is 192.168.1.22. Instead you grant a symbolic name to the machine and can just type it in and rely on the magic of DNS to match it, even when the server needs to move to a different node and get a new IP address.

IT folks and others who are in charge of servers sometimes get excited as 16-year olds naming their rock bands. The discussions usually go like this:

"Let's name them after moons in Star Wars!"
"Yeah!"
"alakatha!"
"dxun!!"
"forestmoonofendor!!!"
"Hmm, that might be a bit long."
"sharene?"
"There's a Sharene in accounting, actually. That might not go over well."
"Okay, how about Simpsons characters?"
"Brilliant!"
"homer!"
"marge!!"
"bart!!!"
"lisa!!!!"
"There's another woman in accounting named Lisa. Let's get away from people names."
"Planets in the solar system?"
"We'll run out of names."
"What's wrong with Uranus2?"
"Greek gods?"
"I'm listening..."
"Well Hermes was the messenger of the gods... So that could be the mail server."
"And Zeus was the god of gods, that could be our DNS server."
"This is brilliant!"
"Let's do it!"
"Yeah, plus that's what we named the servers at the last place so it'll be easy to remember."

At the last place I worked at we started from scratch and had the "haw haw" idea of naming them after Scientologists: Moore, Hayes, Plummer, Alley, Cruise... It was mysterious enough so that when we told clients their files were on "plummer.ourdomain.com" we didn't have to explain what that was about. And since we were a marketing company, we didn't come off as a bunch of social-rejects with something like "ClakDorVII.ourdomain.com" or "NarShaddaa.ourdomain.com".

Like I said, "haw haw".

When the IT group started growing, they acquired their own servers and--I shit you not--named them after Greek gods. The main file server was named Zeus, the mail server and database were named Pandora and Apollo. They'd have a nice laugh when Pandora was acting up--which was "haw haw" squared.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind when naming your servers:

  1. Keep it short and easy to spell. "Blue", "red", "green", "black" are infinitely more friendly than "judaspriest", "polyhymnia", or "chlamydia".
  2. Give the servers names you don't mind saying in meetings with big clients. "Yes, you can grab those files off of 'pine' whenever you like." sounds better than, "Yes, you can grab those files off of 'klaatu9' whenever you like."
  3. Nobody likes Star Wars. Yes, a few engineers, mostly concentrated in pit of hell a few miles south of San Francisco, but that's pretty much it. Star Wars is a terrible, terrible period in our nation's history which thankfully, due to the human fascination with trilogies (or even double trilogies), means we'll see a Battle of Bull Run before we see another new Star Wars movie. It's over. The nightmare is over. Fuck your Star Trek, too.
  4. Don't be too cute. Naming things after Scientologists was fun until I had to tell the new hire what the naming scheme was and hope he wasn't a "Friend of L.Ron" and was going to somehow fill my water glass full of Thetans and damn me to a life under some volcano in Hemet, California. Kind of like that moment when you let the word "retard" go in a group setting and then worry a bit that any one of them might actually have retarded relatives back home drooling on something.
  5. No Greek/Roman gods. At least make it exciting and name them after more current mythical gods like Jesus or The Dude or Steve Jobs.

In closing I would just like to cite this fact I found on Wikipedia while researching this post. Total number of kick-ass rock bands named after Star Wars: 0.