When you see the word Windows capitalized, do you even think about the glass panes that let you see outside your house? How often does the “mac” in macOS make you think of burgers? Once a name gets popular enough, we all collectively disregard how peculiar it is.
Linux isn’t that popular, so it doesn’t get this pass. For those of you unfamiliar with the open source operating system, you don’t install Linux itself — you install one of its many versions, which are known as distributions (“distros”). Many of these distros have odd names.
I’ve put together a list of 15 distros with odd or comical names, in no particular order. Some of them are relatively popular in the Linux world. Others, even if they were mainstream, would still sound downright silly. Tell me if you agree.
Is Gentoo the megaevolution of a Mewtwo? Is it the second generation of a video game console? Maybe it’s alien-branded Play-Doh! Okay, maybe not, but if you’ve seen this Linux distro’s logo, that last one doesn’t seem too far off.
So how did Gentoo get its name? Turns out the Gentoo species of penguin are the fastest swimmers. Considering that Linux’s mascot is Tux, the name tells you how Gentoo’s developers view the competition.
2. Puppy Linux
No, Puppy Linux isn’t an operating system for young dogs. Instead, it’s one of the most lightweight Linux distros you can install on your PC. That makes Puppy Linux a great option for old hardware. This may not sound as adorable as watching a dog use a computer, but at least the logo’s cute.
It gets better. Puppy Linux is built using a tool called Woof. Puppy Linux variants, which you can make using Woof, are known as puplets. Why aren’t they called puppies? Because each major release of Puppy Linux is known as Puppy, with the current version being 6.
Ubuntu is the most well-known Linux distro among desktop users. But how do you say the name? Ooo-bun-too? You-bun-too?
The Ubuntu philosophy comes from southern Africa, so why not let a prominent South African teach us how to say it?
Why would the Ubuntu project derive its name from a South African concept? Because the founder, Mark Shuttleworth, hails from that part of the world.
Slap two verbs together, and you get CrunchBang. The distro’s creator has stopped working on this project, but that has only resulted in the community creating other distros with names that are no less peculiar. Two of the most popular are BunsenLabs and CrunchBang++.
Like your computing experience to taste fresh and minty? Peppermint Linux doesn’t do that. It does give you an interesting combination of LXDE and XFCE. This concoction comes with a stylish theme on top of a stable long-term support release of Ubuntu.
Inspiration for the name comes from Linux Mint. Peppermint’s developers wanted to use that distro’s utilities in conjunction with a desktop environment that was less demanding. The team felt that this was a spicy combination — like a peppermint!
Yes, one of the most well known Linux distros is named after a hat. Turns out, two of them are. Fedora is the open source project that Red Hat uses to create Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat is worth over $2 billion, so people are pretty okay with using OSes that seem to go on your head.
You’ll never guess how Red Hat got its name. Okay maybe you might. One of the founders wore his grandfather’s red Cornell lacross hat while at college. If you don’t like your favorite hat enough to name your project after it, you might not love it enough.
Manjaro sounds like the villain in a 50s Western film. The project’s actual purpose is to provide a way to use Arch that’s welcoming to newcomers. So rather than a villain, Manjaro is actually rather nice.
Manjaro’s inspiration comes from a mountain. You know the one, Mount Kilimanjaro. That’s not a joke.
Debian is one of the oldest and largest Linux projects in existence. It forms the underpinnings of many others on this list, including Ubuntu.
The name sounds like a molecule or an advanced alien species. Instead, it comes from combining the founder’s name (Ian) with his then girlfriend’s (Debra).
Tails has watched Sonic’s back since Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Tails, the Linux distro, has nothing to do with Sega’s two-tailed fox. But it does watch your back.
Tails, or The Amnesic Incognito Live System, is aimed at the more security-conscious or paranoid computer users among us. If being able to browse the internet anonymously is a life or death matter for you, start here.
Parrot isn’t your average Linux distro. This is a tool for penetration testing. Not sure what that means? Imagine what a parrot does when your finger gets too close. Except for the web.
SUSE is one of the oldest commercial Linux distros around. openSUSE is the open distro and community that have spawned since. The mascot is a chameleon, but that’s not what a SUSE is. The name is a German acronym, Software und System-Entwicklung (software and systems development), and it’s pronounced as two syllables.
You would think you’ve finally come across the perfect distro for determining which cattle keep wandering too close to your electric fence and what areas of your property aren’t getting enough water. You’d be wrong. RancherOS is an operating system small enough to run inside a Docker container.
RancherOS is a product of Rancher Labs. The company also produces Rancher, a separate tool for managing Docker containers.
I would have sworn Sabayon was one of those guys who helped Goku defeat Freeza. Instead, it’s a Linux distro. Like a few others on this list, Sabayon takes an existing project and makes it easier to use. In this case, that distro is also on this list. It’s Gentoo.
The disto’s name comes from an Italian dessert, zabaione — or as the French call it, sabayon.
Antergos is a Linux distro most known for being an easy way to install Arch Linux. While it’s not uncommon in the Linux world to create a name by slapping words and sounds together (see: Debian), that’s not what’s going on this time. Antergos is a Galician word meaning “to link the past with the present.”
PCLinuxOS isn’t hard to pronounce. There’s no confusion around what it means. When you head to the website, you know exactly what you’re getting. What’s the problem? Perhaps there’s a such thing as being too literal. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
Which Distros Would You Add?
There are hundreds of Linux distros out there. With the vast majority of them floating around in relative obscurity, and a lot of them being made for a handful of people’s personal amusement, you can bet a solid number of them have funny sounding names. So by no means does the list stop here.
Which distros have names that make you chuckle or leave you scratching your head? Head to the comments below and let’s keep this list growing!
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