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It's Not Magic, It's Work!

27 Dec 2005

Strange Names

There is an interesting article and thread about it on /. discussing application names in Linux. The author claims that applications in Linux have funny names that confuse Windows users and this contributes to holding Linux back from wider scale adoption.

I think that there are number of problems with the original article and these are disused on /. The first point is that obviously none of this has anything to do with Linux, many of the so called oddly named applications also run on most other Unix systems and many even run on Windows.

Secondly, while many applications do have arbitrary names that have little or no relation to their function, many allegedly well known applications are also arbitrarily named. If you didn't know what they were for "Outlook", "PowerPoint", and "Excel"[1] or "Bold", "Cif" and "Ajax"[2] really tell you very little about what they do.

Finally, in many distributions the user menu is structured so that different application types are both described and functionally grouped - something Microsoft get's very wrong with Windows - where applications are grouped by vendor.

Menu structure and layout is a very important thing, it's one of the most laborious jobs in getting the GUI ready for end users. While there is something to be said for brand recognition, in reality, the actual name of a given application is less important than where it's placed in the user menu and how it's described.

  1. Productivity software applications in the Microsoft Office Suite.
  2. Cleaning products available in the UK and other countries.