Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oh my GNUdness

Yes, I've finally returned to Python after a hiatus.

It's interesting to note that there is a collection of links to Python resources called "The Vaults of Parnassus".

Where do they get these names?!

(That would be Greece, in this case, I suppose--Ed.)

(Smart aleck--Jeff.)

Seriously, though, I'm constantly amazed by the creativity that goes into FOSS program names - the GNU versions of Unix stalwarts lex(1) and yacc(1) are called flex and bison, respectively, and of course yacc stands for Yet Another Compiler Compiler. Plus we've Gnu Privacy Guard, an implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, and the GNU implementation of Unix's original file-versioning utility Source Code Control System (SCCS) is the rather haughty-sounding Compatibly Stupid Source Control (CSSC). Last but not least, Python was named as such because the creator, Guido van Rossum, wrote it whilst watching reruns of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Of course this sometimes causes problems for newbies. ("What the hell is synaptic?" etc.) We used to be able to counter complaints of "Why do Linux programs always have those silly names?!" with cries of "What about Microsoft Outlook?! What does that have to do with email?!" but now they've gone and spoilt it by renaming Outlook Express to Windows Mail. (And unhappily, some programs have even been retronym'ed, such as the erstwhile Pine Is Not Elm (elm being an early ELectronic Mailer) being renamed to the boring Program for Internet News and Email.)


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