Hey Journalists! Know Your Ubuntu Names

Mark's Quantal Quetzal announcement. is all over the web, sort of.

And already, "linux" journalists everywhere are boldly and incorrectly reporting the name. (Ignore for a minute that Ubuntu is not "linux", any more than your friend's Toyota Camry is a 2AZ-FE.)

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Did you spot the error in the original article? Probably not. TL;DR?

The author states: "Mark Shuttleworth has just announced the codename for the upcoming Ubuntu release: Ubuntu 12.10 will be called Quantal Quetzal."

The statement should read: "Mark Shuttleworth has just announced the codename for the upcoming Ubuntu release: Quantal Quetzal will become Ubuntu 12.10."

It's a subtle but important distinction. Pre-release versions of Ubuntu are given animal names. Released versions of Ubuntu are given numbers.

Please read that statement twice before writing your next "linux" article. Oh, and dropping the "L" word sure would be an added bonus. This is not the 90's. ;)


Did you find an article with the same error? Please report the URL in the comments.


The number might be the official way to refer to it, but it's actually quite true that "Ubuntu 12.10 will be called Quantal Quetzal." People will call it that, even after release.


Yes they will. And they will still be incorrect. I predict they'll even pronounce Ubuntu the wrong way too ;)


Why does it matter? The alliterative names are more interesting, more memorable and more searchable than version numbers. Why shouldn't people use them post release?


They confuse a lot of people, especially new people. The YY.MM convention is very very simple.


Do you have evidence that substantial numbers of people are confused by the names? The alphabetic sequence seems pretty simple. Mac OS X releases are also widely referred to by their codenames, and while I'm not suggesting we should slavishly copy Apple, it doesn't seem to cause a problem for them.


I do. Numerous face-to-face conversations with the Vancouver local community.

In terms of that fruit company: that's the power of marketing, which we currently don't have. Sure, we could copy them and stick to codenames and then try to educate (advertise) broadly what these names are to reduce confusion. But, that seems to me like a waste of effort.


Sorry, just need to express my laugh to "that fruit company". :)


Publishing a company's internal project codename has long been a journalistic trick to make it sound like they have "inside information", when they have nothing of the sort.


Good point. For me, it's a useful way to detect who actually knows Ubuntu, or doesn't ;)


You should probably verify the linked article refers to the "L word" before berating it.

Or is was that comment just thrown in for good measure? If so, you're identical to the "GNU/*" people. Stop it, now. You're embarrassing me.


The linked article doesn't make the error, but here's one of many that does: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/254387/a_sneak_peek_at_ubu...
(I forgot to include it in the original post).

I'm not sure how you'd characterize the "GNU/* people", but I'm pretty sure I'm not "identical". If I understand your comment, perhaps you mean that they insist on adding toolchain-ish naming to free software products (which I don't advocate). That to me is as damaging as adding the L word to anything with that kernel, except of course to "the robot that pretends to be free" mobile OS which seems to be some metaphysical kernel-free zone.


It's not just journalists; I've been using Ubuntu/Kubuntu since 6.06, and that's news to me.


I've noticed it's also a bug in the Ubuntu user community, which is partly why I wrote about it. Remove the misinformation at the source: computer journalists that don't understand Ubuntu.


I think you are being a bit unreasonable.

According to the development process, I guess you're right. However I think it's perfectly fine to say Ubuntu 12.10 was named Quantal Quetzal. The version number is predetermined, and existed well before the code name was created. Everywhere, even in the release schedule, the next version of Ubuntu after 12.04 was listed as Ubuntu 12.10. The name Quantal Quetzal came afterward, thus 12.04 being named Quantal Quetzal makes sense.

If you were to go into the grammar of it all, then technically you wrote this article incorrectly as well. Linux is a proper noun, so you should type it as Linux not linux.


The codenames are there for developer convenience and to create a spirit of fun in the project. The numbers are the official "name" after release and that is reflected on the CD's that are shipped.

Who cares, right? Well, it's a source of confusion amongst those who just want to use Ubuntu and not have to learn secret handshakes or code names. It's in our interest to eliminate this piece of confusion.

In terms of the "L" word, the Challenged Chicken article sums it up nicely. Capitalization aside, Ubuntu is not a kernel, or a Kernel, or a Colonel, or pizza ;)


There are several inconsistencies with this convention.

/etc/apt/sources.list as mentioned on Diaspora, packages.ubuntu.com, https://help.ubuntu.com/ (which only mentions "Codenamed" w/o specifying it's a dev cycle thing), PPA dropdown lists (http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/579/selection225.png), etc...

I never remember which is which, so I keep going to http://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases to be certain!


These inconsistencies are bugs and should be filed accordingly.

Good tip on the http://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases page. Thanks!


Ubuntu 12.04 pre alpha or something similar gives a lot more info than whatever funny word of the week. Been using Linux distributions since the beginning of the 90s without any need of remembering codenames. It is enough names to remember as it is: openwrt, cerowrt, fedora, centos, debian, ubuntu, rhel, suse, and on.

Ubuntu has one of the best numbering systems. It is easy to figure out when the distribution was released. It is great if the number system is used.


Precisely! ;)


% lsb_release -c
Codename: oneiric

Codenames don't disappear after the release, just look into your sources.list.


I'm not saying the codenames disappear. I *am* saying that the official way to refer to a *released* version of Ubuntu is by version number in the form of YY.MM (e.g. Ubuntu 12.10)


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