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Neatly naming network nodes

Mark Gibbs | June 25, 2013
Experience has taught us that it is as easy to choose bad names as it is to choose good ones

Twas brillig, and the slithy tovesDid gyre and gimble in the wabe;All mimsy were the borogoves,And the mome raths outgrabe.

Thus, my network CIFS group and Wi-Fi SSID have almost always been "Wabe" (although in a recent move the SSID acquired the name of one of our dogs) and the servers have always included a Gyre and a Gimble, while desktops included Momes, Raths and Outgrabe, while laptops include Pig (an annoyingly slow netbook) and Pepper.

Oddly enough and for reasons I'm not clear on, our iPads and iPhones didn't get subverted by this scheme and wound up, rather boringly, with Apple's default naming thus, "Mark's iPad" and "Steph's iPhone." This needs to be fixed.

Anyway, on the list we got to discussing other choices for naming conventions. Someone suggested "-id" words: tepid, morbid, frigid, rigid, horrid, sordid, rancid, lurid, acrid, florid, arid, carotid look promising. While another participant suggested Norse artifacts and personae, "mjollnir for my laptop, mimir for the rooted Kindle. I'm reserving ratatosk for a smartphone, if I ever get one," and yet another said they used medical terms: "I already have rupture, puncture, fracture, and seizure, as my house DHCP group."

But, of course, naming gets more complex when you have something like a large departmental structure to reflect. A list friend said he'd seen authors and their characters used, thus in my system a central server might be "Carroll" with underling computers named BilltheLizard, Mouse, Hatter and so on, while sibling systems could include Dickens (under which would be Dodger, Cratchit, Miss Haversham, etc.), Tolkein (Frodo, Bilbo, Gollum, etc.), and so on. He pointed out that if another layer is needed "a straightforward extension is authors/book/characters."

That's a great scheme, but I think hierarchies are not often needed and hard to make work because networks change so often. Other single level choices that could be amusing include superheroes, cartoon characters, Bond villains, porn stars (then you'd get messages to snicker at such as "ronjeremy is up"), or, for the more literary among you, you could use characters from Shakespeare or Thomas Pynchon.

I might be tempted, should I ever have the need, to use serial killers and their victims as a two-tier system (a list friend told me I was "a sick, magnificent bastard" for that scheme) but, for now, I'll stick with my "Carrollian" strategy.

So, what are you using for a naming convention or, better yet, what would you like to use?


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