What are the stories behind the name of the open source project?

Have you ever wondered where your favorite open source project or programming language name comes from? What are the origins and meanings? opensource.com the community has compiled some of the most commonly used project names and the stories behind them.


The name “Ansible” comes directly from science fiction. In Ursula Le Guin’s book, Rocannon’s World, there is a device that allows instant (faster than light) communication, and it is called ansible (derived from the term “answerable”). Ansible has also become a component of science fiction, including in Orson Scott Card’s “The Game of Ander’s Game,” in which the device remotely controls many spaceships. This seems like a good model for software that controls distributed machines, so Michael DeHaan, the founder of Ansible, borrowed the name.


Apache is an open source Web server that was originally released in 1995. It refers to a patch that repeats the original software code, “A-patchy server” (a patch server).


The original Unix shell, the Bourne shell, was named after its creator. When developing Bash, csh (pronounced “seashell”) is actually more popular in interactive user logins. The Bash project is designed to make the Bourne shell new by making it more interactive, so it’s called “Bourne Again shell” and is a pun to “Born Again.”


Early on, there was a programming system called BCPL (basic combination programming language), and Thompson of AT?amp;T created a simplified BCPL version, called B. But B is less flexible. Ritchie then accepts the idea of B and extends it to a compilation language called C.


The classic anti-vi editor whose real etymology is not obvious is not obvious because it originates from “Editing MACroS” (editorial macro). It has many mischievous interpretations, such as “Escape Meta Alt Control Shift” (used to tease its heavy reliance on keyboards), “Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping” (which is very inexpensive) and  Eventually malloc() s All Computer Storage(which eventually allocates all the storage space of the computer) and so on.


According to Wikipedia, GNOME was originally an acronym for the GNU Network Object Model Environment. The name no longer represents the item and has been deleted, but the name still exists.


Java was originally called Oak, but the name was rejected because of an existing trademark. Legend has it that the language’s working group conducted a massive brainstorming storm in January 1995. They have also named many other names, including Silk, DNA, WebDancer, and so on. The team does not want the new name to have anything to do with the overused term “web” or “net”. Ultimately, Java is more responsive to their requirements of being “dynamic,” “interesting,” and “easy to remember.”


Jupyter notebook is used by many data researchers. Jupyter’s name is a combination of the three open source languages it uses that are important in data science: Julia, Python, and R.


Kubernetes is derived from the Greek word for “rudder”. The project’s founder, Craig McLuckie, wanted to stick to the nautical theme, explaining that technology drives containers, just like a rudder or pilot pilot pilot. Interestingly, it has the same etymology as the English word “governor”, as is the mechanical negative feedback device on a steam engine.


KDE originally represented “Kool Desktop Environment”. It was founded in 1996 by Matthias Ettrich.


Linux is named after its founder, Linus Torvalds. Linus initially wanted to name his work “Freax” because he thought it was too conceited to name himself. But Torvalds’ colleague, Ari Lemke, who was one of the volunteer administrators of FTP servers at the time, didn’t think Freax was a good name. Therefore, he named the project “Linux” on the server without consulting Torvalds.

Here are some popular Linux distributions:


CentOS is an acronym for Community Enterprise Operating System, a community enterprise operating system.


Founded in September 1993, Debian Linux is named after founder Ian Murdock and his then-girlfriend Debra Lynn.


Red Hat Linux is named after founder Marc Ewing because he wears a red Cornell University soft hat given by his grandfather.


Ubuntu is designed to share open source widely and is named after the African ubuntu philosophy. Ubuntu can be translated as “humanity towards others”.


The name should actually be read as “EngineX”, referring to a powerful web server, just like an engine.


The creator of Python, Guido Van Rossum, is a fan of the comedy group Monty Python, and Python’s name comes from it.

Raspberry Pi

In the 1970s and 1980s, computers named after fruit were a popular trend, apple, Tangerine, Apricot, and so on. Raspberry Pi is a tribute to this trend. Raspberries are small, but they taste rich. The “Pi” in the name implies the fact that, initially, the computer could only run Python.


Zsh is an interactive login shell. In 1990, Paul Falstad, a Princeton University student, wrote the first version. When he saw the login ID of Zhong Sha (zsh), a teaching assistant at Princeton University, he thought it sounded like a good name and used it directly to name it.

In addition, there are many other interesting project names, what else do you know? You can share it with you in the comments.