Do People Really Use That? 15 Weird Linux Operating System Names

Bertel King 05-01-2017

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 The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More (“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.

1. Gentoo

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 Extreme Tux Racer: The Most Iconic Original Linux Game You Can Play Right Now Historically speaking, gaming on Linux has been "meh" at best, but Extreme Tux Racer is anything but. Read More , 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 8 Lightweight Linux Distros Ideal for Intel Atom Processor PCs Don't let your Atom-powered laptop gather dust. Install a lightweight Linux distro and enjoy mobile computing once again! Read More . 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.

3. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the most well-known Linux distro among desktop users 8 Things That Keep You Coming Back to Ubuntu There is so much going on in the Linux world, from new features in GNOME Shell to the release of Plasma 5, and the amazing Elementary OS, so why do you stick with Ubuntu? Read More . 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.


4. CrunchBang

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++.

5. Peppermint

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!

6. Fedora

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 5 Reasons to Use Pure Open Source Distro, Fedora Fedora isn't as well known as Ubuntu, and has a reputation for being hard to use. But if this is true, why do so many people continue using Fedora? Read More .


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.

7. Manjaro

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.

8. Debian

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).

9. Tails

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 Linux Operating Systems for the Paranoid: What Are the Most Secure Options? Switching to Linux delivers many benefits for users. From a more stable system to a vast selection of open source software, you're onto a winner. And it won't cost you a penny! Read More .

10. Parrot

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.

11. openSUSE

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 6 Reasons You Should Choose openSUSE and the Geeko There are good reasons openSUSE continues to attract users, and here are some of them. Maybe you will be the next person to fall in love with the Geeko. Read More .

12. RancherOS

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.

13. Sabayon

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.

14. Antergos

Antergos is a Linux distro most known for being an easy way to install Arch Linux How to Install Arch Linux the Easy Way with Antergos Old PC or laptop need a new lease of life? Thinking about switching to Linux, but don’t know where to start? With Antergos, you can install Arch Linux the easy way! Read More . 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.”

15. PCLinuxOS

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!

Image Credit: pathdoc via Shutterstock

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Silverlokk
    January 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    One of the earliest distros was Ygdrassil - not even sure of the spelling

    • Silverlokk
      January 15, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Yggdrasil - the Tree of Life in Norse mythology

      • Bertel King, Jr.
        January 18, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        A great one to include in a Linux spelling bee.

  2. Tomos Halsey
    January 12, 2017 at 1:52 am

    And who can forget
    Apartheid Linux
    Ubuntu Satanic Edition
    Hannah Montana Linux

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      A trifecta that could offend most anyone's sensibilities.

  3. RichG.
    January 9, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Perhaps "deepin" -previously known as Hiweed GNU/Linux. Cool distro as well.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Both are peculiar names. Great add!

  4. Lucien Jansen van Vuuren
    January 8, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Not realy a distro in the sense but still worth mentioning is Linux from scratch.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Nice one! What user could possibly find it weird to make part of their PC from scratch?

  5. Carney
    January 6, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    In my opinion, weird names have been a major handicap for acceptance of FOSS, both in the corporate world, and among ordinary users. My comments below are NOT in general about the merits or demerits of distros or other software; just the names.

    But first, the good names.

    "PCLinuxOS" is my favorite Linux distro name for exactly the reasons this article swipes at it: it's straightforward, easy to say and pronounce, tells you exactly what it is, and best of all doesn't make its users or advocates seem like weirdos.

    The name "Linux Lite" does nearly as good a job at this.

    The name "Linux Ultimate Edition" is a bit much, but so is the distro, so, again, same deal.

    "Arch Linux" is a brilliant name because an arch is an alternative to a window (or Windows) and also implies that it's the best distro.

    What about the bad names?

    "Slackware" implies that its developers and users are slackers, but then again it only targets the hard-care geeks anyway.

    "Evolution" could be defended as a name because it implies continuous improvement, or even having improved to be better than other software, but overall I think it's a distracting and uninformative name. It's an Outlook clone, and would thus be far better served with a name like Overview, which not only is alliterative to Outlook, but also highlights the same feature: being able to see at a glance an outlook or overview of your whole day (emails, tasks, appointments).

    "Ubuntu" is thuddingly heavy and ugly-sounding, with the added burden of a smugly Politically Correct virtue-posing attitude that is also hypocritical and deceptive because it's not actually produced by Africans, or in Africa - Shuttleworth white-flighted Africa long ago for the safe prosperous homogeneously non-African locale of the Isle of Man, which also coincidentally has low taxes and regulations -- so much for sharing the wealth or high conduct standards.

    "Kali" reminds people of a horrifying cult which did human sacrifice. What in the world..

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      I largely agree, but at the same time, I don't think the open source world should necessarily base names on Windows counterparts.

    • Igor Šulji?
      January 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      One consequence of code freedom is that you don't have to use sleazy marketing techniques to improve what? The sales of the product?
      Those names may not be very clear, and their kitchy hipsters aura doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone, but the software itself is candid being exactly what it pretends to be (and pretty good by the way). I prefer it being like this then the other way round.

  6. Peter
    January 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Elementary OS has to be the prettiest Linux distro around. Latest version Loki is amazing.

  7. Icey
    January 6, 2017 at 3:52 am

    i cant believe you skipped Mint, it is the highest hit by about 50% on which is where you go to look at different linux forks

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 9, 2017 at 3:12 pm

      This list is entirely subjective, and Linux Mint doesn't sound all that weird to me (I included Peppermint in part because they don't mention "Linux" anywhere in the name).

  8. Amar Nath Yogi
    January 5, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Kali 2.0 codename SANA

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      What's going on there?

  9. Eskil Dybvik
    January 5, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    From the top of the FAQ:
    A. CHAINSAWLINUX, may be related to our production company name: Crimson Chain Productions, but any more information than that is highly classified and we could be punished by law if we reveal that juicy little secret...

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Oh my!

  10. Andrew White
    January 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Crunchbang refers to the two characters at the beginning of a shell script on the line that tells the OS where to find the appropriate interpreter: "#!".

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Ahah! Thanks. The origins of CrunchBang's name eluded me.

  11. Brainstorms
    January 5, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    SliTaz, a great "tiny" distro with a spider logo (and for some reason, a cooking theme for its build process).

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 5, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      That logo reminds me of the University of Richmond's. Both look like Spider-man's.

      • Brainstorms
        January 6, 2017 at 2:47 am

        Spiderman uses Linux! Who knew?