Posted by: The Chhamanator | April 8, 2008

What’s behind that Distro’s name?

from Royal Hehe2-ness

Below is a list of Linux Distributions. And the meaning behind their names. I use the ever popular copy-paste for this post. This is an incomplete list of the man article. To view the entire list, visit the site mentioned above.

Ubuntu Logo 1-Ubuntu
The meaning of Ubuntu is pretty much known by everybody in geekdom, just in case you have been living under a rock, definitions is: “Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.”


Pretty much obvious, 3 words jammed up into one, PC + Linux + Operating System.PCLinuxOS has a GUI that resembles Windows, in an effort to make switching to Linux easier. Hence the use of the word PC (even though PC is not exclusive to Windows, which is a misnomer)



openSUSE is the SUSE community project sponsored by Novell and AMD. SUSE is an German acronym for “Software- und System-Entwicklung” (”Software and system development”). However some claim that it’s a tribute the computer engineer Konrad Zuse.

Fedora Logo


Fedora is a community Linux project sponsored by Red Hat. The name “fedora” is derived from the fedora that the shadowman is wearing in the Red Hat logo. (see below)


This Linux distro was the original Mandrake Linux distro, which was maintained by MandrakeSoft, however MandrakeSoft lost a legal battle against Hearst Corporation over the name “Mandrake”. MandrakeSoft later on bought Connectiva, the result of the fusion = Mandriva )

Sabayon Logo6-Sabayon

Sabayon is a distro produced in Trentino, Italy and is named after an Italian dessert also called Sabayon. Sabayon (or Zabaglione) is made of egg yolks, sugar, and sweet liquor.



Debian was first introduced by Ian Murdock in 1998. The name itself is a portmanteau of his girlfriend (now wife) Debra and his name Ian.


8-Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux is a very small Linux distro with the size of only 50 MB. Hence the name. Like Duuuuh P



According to the original creator of MEPIS, Warren Woodford, MEPIS orginally didn’t mean anything, he just misheard a friend on a bad Skype connection, and liked the name!

FreeBSD Logo10-FreeBSD

FreeBSD is not exactly a Linux distro, it’ more like a sibling of Linux, and it ranked 11 on distrowatch. BSD is a Unix derivative developed by the University of Califrnia at Berkeley, BSD itself is an acronym for Berkeley Software Distribution. FreeBSD is the free branch of the Berkeley Distro.



CentOS is based on Red Had Enterprise Linux (RHEL), it basically stands for Community Enterprise Operating System.

DreamLinux Logo12-Dreamlinux

Dreamlinux is a Brazilian Linux distro based on Debian and looks very similar to Apple’s MAC OSX. I don’t really think there is a real reason behind the name. Just mashed up “dream” and “linux” together, talk about orginal!

puppy_linux.png13-Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a small live CD distro that focuses on ease of use. This distro has it’s own mascot called “Puppy” which is a real Chihuahua.

Kubuntu Logo


Pretty much straight forward KDE + Ubuntu = Kubuntu

Zenwalk Logo15-Zenwalk

Zenwalk is intended to sound (and mean) similary as Nextstep, the famous OS created by Steve Job when he was fired by Apple

Slackware logo


Slackware was created by Patrick Volkerding. Slackware initially was a private side project, and to prevent it from being a serious one, Patrick named it “slack.” In reference to the term slack from the Church of SubGenius (Thanks to the many who pointed this out) The kinda name stuck



Knoppix is a Debian based Live CD distro developed by Klaus Knopper and named after him.

Gentoo Logo18-Gentoo

Gentoo is a source code based distro, meaning that everything is compiled from scratch, which contributes to it’s speed. This fact prompted to a name change (originally Enoch) to Gentoo, which is the fastest swimming penguin.



Slax is a live CD distro based on Slackware, and from it comes the name. Nothing interesting here, move along.



Sidux is a Linux distro based on the unstable branch of Debian which is codenamed “Sid”, which in turn is named after the Sid Phillips character in Toy Story – usually destroys and tortures his sister Hannah’s toys.

Ubuntu Studio Logo

21-Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu Studio is just a special derivative from Ubuntu geared to general multimedia production.


22- PC-BSD

PC-BSD is a BSD based distro. It aims to be easy to install by using a graphical installation program, and easy- and ready-to-use immediately by providing KDE as the default, pre-installed graphical user interface, hence adding the “PC” prefix.
Foresight Linux Logo23-Foresight

Foresight is a Linux distro that uses Conary as a package manager, it allows rolling updates, rather than the 2 big releases a year most distros do. For example, when banshee 1.0 comes out next month Foresight users will have it in less than a week, while Ubuntu users will wait until October (Thanks to pcutler from the forsight IRC channel for explaining this).

redhat-copy.png24-Red Hat

This one has some really interesting stories behind it, go here to find out.

OpenGEU Logo


OpenGEU was originally Geubuntu, which is a distro based on Ubuntu but uses GNOME and Enlightenment as windows manager, the “G” and “E” stand for this combo. But due to some legal boo-haa it was changed to OpenGEU.



This one is just a Debian based live CD that also uses Enlightenment as a windows manager.

Freespire Logo 27-Freespire

In August 2005, a distribution Live CD based on Linspire’s source pools named Freespire hit the web by accident. It later evolved to become it’s own distro. Linspire also has a interesting tale behind it’s name. Linspire originally was “Lindows” but some spoiled brat in the Microsoft legal department decided that “Lindows” infringes on their “Windows” brand and decided to sue. Microsoft’s case didn’t really hold water in court, so Microsoft decided to settle and pay $20 million for Lindows to change to Linspire.

Frugalware Linux28-Frugalware
I couldn’t find any documented reason, but it’s probably taken from the frugality philosphy. According to Wikipedia:

Frugality in the context of certain belief systems, is a philosophy in which one does not trust, or is deeply wary of “expert” knowledge, often from commercial markets or corporate cultures, claiming to know what is in the best economic, material, or spiritual interests of the individual.



Again with Ubuntu? Just an Ubuntu based distro that uses Fluxbox as it’s windows manager.


Xandros’s name is derived from the X Windows system and the Greek island Andros. Will Roseman (co-founder) chose Andros island because he thought of Andros in the mythological context relating to “Isle of Man”. Isle of Man was, according to one legend, where man was born. So the Andros part would be where desktop Linux was born. Mike also denied that the distro was named after the X Windows System, he added the X just because it improved the sound / image of the name .


TinyME is a small light-weight version of PCLinuxOS, it’s derived from two words; “tiny” and “me”



gOS is an Ubuntu based distro that has tight integeration of Google apps, gOS stands for ‘Good OS LLC’ which is the name of the company behind the distro.



Backtrack is security testing and penetration detection distro with a collection of security and forensics tools. The name is derived from this fact; “back tracing” the intruders.


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