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I worked for a company that named the pc's after roman gods (zeus, mars...). That was quiet funny while there where only 5 pc's on the network, but after changing the pc's several times I didn't remember my pc name. What naming convention do you use or what was the most useless naming convention you ever used?

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@Zfire: No, Zeus is Greek. Jupiter is the equivalent in Roman. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeus and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_(mythology) –  Commander Keen Jun 3 '09 at 4:39
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I believe Zifre meant "isn't", since he then refers to Jupiter. –  mmyers Jun 3 '09 at 15:58
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see the question here which got some pretty nice answers. serverfault.com/questions/18240/… –  kentchen Jun 9 '09 at 7:08

49 Answers 49

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There is actually an RFC (1178) regarding best practice in naming computers.

The following is discouraged by this RFC:

  • Don't overload other terms already in common use.
  • Don't choose a name after a project unique to that machine.
  • Don't use your own name.
  • Don't use long names.
  • Avoid alternate spellings.
  • Avoid domain names
  • Don't use antagonistic or otherwise embarrassing names
  • Don't use digits at the beginning of the name.
  • Don't use non-alphanumeric characters in a name
  • Don't expect case to be preserved

Guidence for naming given by this RFC is:

  • Use words/names that are rarely used
  • Use theme names
  • Use real words

And as always "There is always room for an exception"

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In a large corporation we use the following scheme for non server computers. city abbreviation, employee number, d or l depending on weather it's a desktop or laptop, then a sequential number starting at one that increases for each computer the employee has. For example if your number 238 in the hr system and work in Minneapolis and have three computers in your name, two desktops and a laptop your names would be as follows. mn238d1 mn238d2 mn238l1

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I prefer using Simpsons characters, because:

  1. There are so many of them
  2. Most people -- and definitely many IT staff -- know the Simpsons
  3. The characters are so distinct that we can choose a character that's close to the server's function, as a way of remembering what does what
  4. It's a good way to endear our staff to the servers
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I've seen Disney characters in one organization and porn stars in another.

Seems that few wanted to fess up to recognizing both sets.

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1.) Most fun naming convention for me, mathematicians and physicists. The list of notable ones is almost endless and they're pretty distinctive, "Dirac", "Fermi", "Pauli", "Feynman", etc.

2.) Here's one that might work for you:

First character: W, S or L, (Workstation, Server or Laptop) Second string: office/branch accounting code such as 047, 130, 227, etc. Third string: OS designator, (RHL, SUN, XP, VI, 2K, 2K3) Fourth: (here's where it splits and gets weird.) If it's a server, then a VERY short purpose code. (For application servers: "app01", etc. DNS, mail, file, etc. If it's a workstation, then put in the last four digits of the user's extension.

So we've got:

Sun Solaris application server, located in Dillion, Colorado which uses the office accounting code "244":

s244sunapp01

Windows XP laptop, assigned to marketing personnel located in Anchorage, AL (office code 047) at extension x4556:

L047xp4556

Windows 2003 domain controller, located in Bellingham, WA (office code 012):

s0122k3dc01

...and so on, and so on.

Worst naming convention I ever saw used was truncating the username in a workstation name, which led to ALL SORTS of weirdness.

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The most useless convention is the one where you let the users set their own machine name. Avoid that at all cost.

I typically use either types or brands of beer. Types if you know your machine population will remain fairly small (one or two dozen); brands if it will be large. Many users (mainly guys) get a kick out of it, because it allows them to sort of "root for" their favorite.

The two main problems with the beer branding scheme are a) what to do with multi-word names and b) how to deal with really long names.

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I came up with the following system when we had a mix of manufacturers of our PCs:

e.g. Dell-0906-01

  • Dell is the manufacturer
  • 0906 is 2009-06 which is the month the PC was bought or set up
  • 01 is a serial number for all PCs set up that month. So we might have Dell-0906-01 and then HP-0906-02, then IBM-0906-03

Compaq was the longest manufacturer's name, so this fit within the 15 character netbios limit. This convention wouldn't work if you had more than 99 PCs in a given month, but that wasn't a concern for us.

For us, manufacturer and date would tell us a lot about the hardware, and in general the date would tell us quickly how old a system was.

We never liked naming PCs based on who used because of the need to rename them. This convention avoided that hassle. In practice, we grouped our PC purchases and did things like "all the secretaries are getting PCs in this batch" or "all the managers are getting new laptops" so it was also easy to associate a name with a "type" of PC user.

Later, we dropped the manufacturer and used an abbreviation for which division and what location the PC was in, but that required too much abbreviation to be as meaningful, we had things like: wpvaws-0906-01, frvaws- ppvaws- wpqcws- wpotws- (ws for WorkStation) It still worked, but wasn't as readable.

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Fixed Workstations

I have always named workstations based upon their location, we have five buildings each with their own code (C - Cashman, N - Newman, M - St. Marys, L - Lutwyche and SC - Sacre Coeur) each building has multiple floors (B - Basement, G - Ground, F - First, S - Second, A - Attic) and each room has a number. So rooms are named NF7, MG6, CS1. Our naming scheme simply adds a dash ("-") followed by a sequential number for that room - NF7-01, MG6-01, etc. Some computers are connected to SMARTboards so these get called -SMART instead of the sequential number as they have special policies applied.

The advantage of this system means we can identify the probable name of a computer with very little information (i.e. it was reported by Mrs Jones at 12:45 - at this point Mrs Jones was timetabled in CS1, so it is probably CS1-SMART. A student had a problem in NF7 at 10:17 which means they will be using one of the computers in NF7-01 through NF7-17). It is easy for new staff to follow the naming scheme as they can just look at the site maps.

Laptops

We have had a couple of systems for laptops, although the one that has worked best is naming them by generation, so the first batch of Acer laptops that were bought were LTA1, the second batch of Acers were LTA2 and the first batch of Fijitsu-Siemens were LTF1. Again an sequential number is appended to the name to give us LTA1-01, LTA1-02, LTF1-01, etc.

We can easily identify which laptops are of which generation simply from their DNS name, because we use BGInfo to display the computer name on the background we can ask anyone with a laptop named LTA1 to return it to be replaced (I have toyed with doing this programaticly to display a message on the login screens).

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I usually call them George. Get's rough after a while, but keeps the mind focused.

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There is a tradition in my family where each son must me named with the first letter being the next letter in the alphabet from the previous baby to be born anywhere in the tree. EX( if Albert was born last month, and i have a child it would need to be named with something starting with B, like Bob) and there can't be a repetition(if theres a bob alive, i would not be able to name my child Bob).

So, 3 summers ago my aunt was about to have a child and her only options(that she liked) where Sergio and "Saturnino" (yea, saturnino). So... I of course give tech support for all the extended family like most of us and decided to start naming all computers "Saturnino" and some variant, like if it was a fujitsu "Saturnino Ninja" or a mac "SaturninoBook". After a couple of months i heard that my aunt decided to name my cousin "Sergio" because saturnino was being used all over the family as a synonym of computer. Still every computer in my family is a variant of Saturnino

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Majority of our host names were taken from Greek Mythology.

  • Minotaur
  • Zeus
  • Athena
  • Calypso

and more.

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In a very small shop years ago (free standing servers)

The domain controller is always right. So it was called "Right"

It's sister (web and SQL) was therefore "Left"

The later 3rd server (running custom emulator software) was under a different desk and was called "Middle"

Sad, pointless, amusing.

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I mostly use names from a set of names.

Examples:

  • Characters from animated series (Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy)
  • Names of real stars (Sol, Arktur, Maia, Bellatrix, Deneb, ...)
  • Names of (semi-)fictious Star Trek planets (Chronos, Vulcan, Risa, Bajor, ...)

Sometimes when I can't think of a good set I use Google Sets.

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We use North American towns and cities.

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FirstName-PC for desktops or FirstName-NB for laptops.

Works well when you have only a dozen people in the office who consistently use the same computer.

When I was government tech support we'd use FirstInitialLastName-PC/NB. The worst was when we tried naming the computers after the specific tasks usually performed on them. We ended up with Development1 through Development20.

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"wks-$Username" seen that in use, AND gets around the unique-name feature of AD. Works well for environments that image PCs before giving them to new employees.

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Names of mountains. At my old job we used the names of Norwegian mountains. (We're in Norway...)

I don't see a similar scheme working too well for the danish or dutch, though...

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I name systems after menu items from the local pseudo-Chinese fast food chicken outlet. "hotandspicy" "penangcurry" "lemon" and so on. Everyone in the office eats there, so it's only 'useless' to people who don't get to eat good pseudo-Chinese fast food chicken.

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We use PC001, PC002 and so on. Simple not so funny but useful ;-)

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We also use Roman gods for our various remote boxes. However, as we are a multinational, we use [office designation]-[username] or [office designation]-[department][4 digit number] for workstations, e.g. syd1-jeremys or syd1-dev8209.

We're moving more to the username side now as it's assured they will be unique, and it helps with administration when a particular user needs assistance and remote control is sufficient to solve the issue. Plus, we rebuild each machine if a user leaves the company, so using the username makes more sense. The only downside there is for short-term contractors, who tend to leave and be replaced with rather alarming frequency such that it's not always practical to rebuild their machine before their replacement arrives.

Ehtyar.

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There was a place that I was at for a short time that used ship names as their naming convention. The most notable was what they used for their PDC: Titanic

Talk about preparing for disaster... Now you know why I left...

-JFV

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i remember at university one of the lab computers was called 'moron' i guess they must have run out ideas by that stage. (or it was named after one of the lecturers)

my only recomendation is to keep it short, so that there is less chance of a typo when accessing it, and it is easy to spell over the phone

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We have several naming schemes. Workstations are named after biscuits (oreo, hobnob, timtam, digestive), office servers are named after alcoholic drinks (pimms, vodka, gin) and our datacentre servers are named after London Underground stations (victoria, cockfosters, paddington) (with the exception of servers in large clusters where it became difficult to remember who was in what cluster, which are named the exciting w000, w001, w002 etc).

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Our servers are sub-domained and named after members of the Wu-Tang Clan:

ins.wu.domain.com - Inspectah Deck mk.wu.domain.com - Masta Killah chef.wu.domain.com - Raekwon the Chef

and since there are only 9 members, when we need to expand, we'll use members of the larger Killa Beez klan and sub-domain them like:

name.kb.domain.com

So far we haven't reached that point, but it is a lot of fun talking about our servers when clients are present.

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We're boring here... salesdell1, for example :( Still - avoid giving names that are person or location specific. Job specific ones like my example are bad enough - becomes confusing when you move them. Something vaguely descriptive is handy so you can match the physical to the logical with a mnemonic.

Having said that, my home network is "things you might find on a beach" - firewall is sandcastle, and then I have breakwater, bucket and spade.

Used to be named after "cheeses unsuitable for grilling" - eg. "gouda", "mascarpone" :)

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We're boring by comparison: primary location, secondary location and asset tag number.

Still at least we don't have to ask users to try find their PC name if we ever need to remotely control them.

At home I use hillbilly names (it amuses me): Billy-Bob, John-Boy, Jethro, and so on.

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Simpson's names,

  • Macro : ldap
  • Pinchy : IDS
  • Zutroy : dev server
  • Wiggum : firewall
  • Grabowski : firewall2
  • Apu : DHCP

and so on :)

You can find the cast list here

But for "clusters" we use names like:

  • web01, web02, web03
  • mx1, mx2, mx3
  • compute-0-0, compute-1-1, compute-2-30 (the first number is the rack)
    • Shortened c-0-0, c-1-1, c-2-30
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Ours uses a variation of the Reverse Polish Notation coupled with a number. For example, ws000020 is the twentieth windows server, wv stands for a windows virtual machine, wl is a windows laptop and so on. Unfortunately, it's quite hard to remember what wv009472 was for unless you work with it daily.

On customer networks, the servers are prefixed by role. For example, there's www1 and www2 as well as sql1 and sql2. The servers for a specific application are kept on a separate domain (for example, intra.initech.example), so the fully qualified domain name tells exactly what the server is for. Of course, all of this is abstracted away from end-users with load balancers, so that they only see intra.initech.example.

At home, I use theme naming. For example, I have zathras, lyta, garibaldi, lennier and natoth. :-)

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At work, systems are named after the user who uses it, prefixed with "D-" for desktop systems and "L-" for laptops. Testsystems are prefixed with "T-" plus the name of the project that they mostly used for. The servers have more boring names, though.

At home, I give my computers a woman's name. I started with the letter A for my first computer and am now up to Petra with my latest netbook. I have a small problem when I want to buy a new computer, since I don't like most names that start with a Q. :-)

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