Browse Prior Art Database

Choosing a name for your computer (RFC1178)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000001991D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-12
Document File: 7 page(s) / 17K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

D. Libes: AUTHOR

Abstract

In order to easily distinguish between multiple computers, we give them names. Experience has taught us that it is as easy to choose bad names as it is to choose good ones. This essay presents guidelines for deciding what makes a name good or bad.

This text was extracted from a ASCII document.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 16% of the total text.

Network Working Group D. Libes

Request for Comments: 1178 Integrated Systems Group/NIST

FYI: 5 August 1990

Choosing a Name for Your Computer

Status of this Memo

This FYI RFC is a republication of a Communications of the ACM

article on guidelines on what to do and what not to do when naming

your computer [1]. This memo provides information for the Internet

community. It does not specify any standard.

Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

In order to easily distinguish between multiple computers, we give

them names. Experience has taught us that it is as easy to choose

bad names as it is to choose good ones. This essay presents

guidelines for deciding what makes a name good or bad.

Keywords: domain name system, naming conventions, computer

administration, computer network management

Introduction

As soon as you deal with more than one computer, you need to

distinguish between them. For example, to tell your system

administrator that your computer is busted, you might say, "Hey Ken.

Goon is down!"

Computers also have to be able to distinguish between themselves.

Thus, when sending mail to a colleague at another computer, you might

use the command "mail libes@goon".

In both cases, "goon" refers to a particular computer. How the name

is actually dereferenced by a human or computer need not concern us

here. This essay is only concerned with choosing a "good" name. (It

is assumed that the reader has a basic understanding of the domain

name system as described by [2].)

By picking a "good" name for your computer, you can avoid a number of

problems that people stumble over again and again.

Here are some guidelines on what NOT to do.

Don't overload other terms already in common use.

Using a word that has strong semantic implications in the

current context will cause confusion. This is especially true

in conversation where punctuation is not obvious and grammar is

often incorrect.

For example, a distributed database had been built on top of

several computers. Each one had a different name. One machine

was named "up", as it was the only one that accepted updates.

Conversations would sound like this: "Is up down?" and "Boot

the machine up." followed by "Which machine?"

While it didn't take long to catch on and get used to this

zaniness, it was annoying when occasionally your mind would

stumble, and you would have to stop...