Wandering Thoughts archives


On the naming of machines (part 2)

I've recently been forcefully reminded of an important thing about naming machines, namely that you should give your machines hostnames that are not English words that you will use in your email and notes. That way you can actually find where you mention your machines when you go searching through the same, instead of getting lost in the clutter.

(For example, we had a machine called 'mix'. I rapidly gave up searching our work email archive for information about its history.)

This doesn't mean that you can't use recognizable words. You just need to pick words that you'll never use in notes and email except when they refer to your machines. If you are going to search all of your email, the best names are somewhat person-dependent; for example, if you correspond with people about Greek mythology, 'hermes' and 'lachesis' may not be the best names for machines.

Sometimes you can save a dangerous name by consistently adopting a longer form of it. For example, I used to be responsible for a machine called 'disk' (it was our fileserver, and all of our servers had functional names like that); however, we almost always added the subdomain when talking about it and called it 'disk.srv'.

(Similarly, naming a machine after the service it offers or the program it runs to do that is inviting confusion in searches. This doesn't mean you can't use such things as the basis for the hostname; just don't use them directly. For example, our new IMAP server is called 'aviary', not 'dovecot'.)

sysadmin/NamingMachinesII written at 22:06:43; Add Comment

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