Something I found

Four cool, non-numeric naming conventions

So it’s no secret that Ikea has some unusual names for products, especially to an English-reading eye.  If I told you that I recently bought a “Bjorkasen”, you’d assume I had bought a child from an Icelandic singer. (10 points if you get the reference, minus 10 points if you correct me on any inaccuracies.)

It’s not a random thing dreamed up by some Scandinavian who’d had one too many Stigbergets.  Each product has a list of suitable names, depending on what it is.   You can read more about it on my Instagram post a few months back about the system they use.

And they’re not the only ones who have done to have some kind of naming system rather than random codenames for products or version numbers for software.  Here are four tech companies that have used non-numeric naming conventions to promote new products.

Google Android

Probably one of the most popular naming conventions in tech is that of the Google Android system.  Apart from Alpha and Beta, each major version was named in alphabetical order and was named after a dessert.  It’s such an uncommon naming convention that each release caused a stir within parts of the Tech community about what the next letter would be.

The releases were:

  • Cupcake (version 1.5)
  • Donut (version 1.6)
  • Eclair (version 2.0)
  • Froyo (version 2.2)
  • Gingerbread (version 2.3)
  • Honeycomb (version 3.0)
  • Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0)
  • Jelly Bean (version 4.1)
  • KitKat (version 4.4)
  • Lollipop (version 5.0)
  • Marshmallow (version 6.0)
  • Nougat (version 7.0)
  • Oreo (version 8.0)
  • Pie (version 9)

Each version from 10.0 onwards was given its respective release number.  The current release number is Android 12, launched on October 4, 2021.

Notable releases were Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which was a tablet-specific release of Android, with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich the first release to support both smartphones and tablets.  Android 4.4 KitKat was originally codenamed “Key Lime Pie”, but was renamed after a meeting with director of Android global partnerships John Lagerling, and representatives of Nestlé, and Android 8.0 Oreo was originally codenamed “Oatmeal Cookie” before a deal with Nabisco was reached.

Apple macOS

Apple’s naming system for macOS is interesting, arguably even more than Google Android’s.  When Apple launched their OS X operating system, it was marketed as the biggest leap from the old OS 9 days.  Each release of OS X – and subsequently macOS – was given a non-numerical name as well as its release number.  With the exception of OS X beta, each major version between 10.0 and 10.8 was publicly named after a big cat, and each release afterwards was publicly named after places and landmarks in California – most notably mountains.

What’s interesting, though, is internally they were also given non-numeric internal names as well.  According to Macworld, versions 10.3 up to 10.10 were named internally after wines, and the remaining versions in the 10.x release schedule were named internally after … well … apples.  Because why not?

The releases so far are (with internal names in italics and their public names in bold):

  • OS X 10 beta: Kodiak
  • OS X 10.0: Cheetah
  • OS X 10.1: Puma
  • OS X 10.2: Jaguar
  • OS X 10.3 Panther (Pinot)
  • OS X 10.4 Tiger (Merlot)
  • OS X 10.4.4 Tiger (Chardonnay)
  • OS X 10.5 Leopard (Chablis)
  • OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • OS X 10.7 Lion (Barolo)
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (Zinfandel)
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks (Cabernet)
  • OS X 10.10: Yosemite (Syrah)
  • OS X 10.11: El Capitan (Gala)
  • macOS 10.12: Sierra (Fuji)
  • macOS 10.13: High Sierra (Lobo)
  • macOS 10.14: Mojave (Liberty)
  • macOS 10.15: Catalina (Jazz)
  • macOS 11: Big Sur
  • macOS 12: Monterey

A notable release is OS X 10.4.4 Tiger.  While it was not a new major release and was still released under the Tiger name, it was given two internal build names in Merlot and Chardonnay.  Versions OS X 10.6 also does not have an internal release name.


Ubuntu has arguably one of the most fun naming conventions for its major releases.  According to the official Ubuntu Wiki, Canonical’s CEO Mark Shuttleworth told of how their naming system came about in a conversation with Robert Collins, one of the first employees at Canonical:

So, what’s with the “Funky Fairy” naming system? Many sensible people have wondered why we chose this naming scheme. It came about as a joke on a ferry between Circular Quay and somewhere else, in Sydney, Australia:

lifeless (Collins): how long before we make a first release?
sabdfl (Shuttleworth): it would need to be punchy. six months max.
lifeless: six months! thats not a lot of time for polish.
sabdfl: so we’ll have to nickname it the warty warthog release.

And voila, the name stuck.


Each release follows the same alliterative formula: an adjective, followed by an animal of the same letter.  They are not released in alphabetical order, and the first few were named after hogs, but now they just need to follow that formula.  Version numbers are also easy to figure – YY.MM.  The first release was in October 2004, and so its number is 4.10.  The names to date are:

  • 4.10 Warty Warthog
  • 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog
  • 5.10 Breezy Badger
  • 6.06 LTS Dapper Drake
  • 6.10 Edgy Eft
  • 7.04 Feisty Fawn
  • 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon
  • 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron
  • 8.10 Intrepid Ibex
  • 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope
  • 9.10 Karmic Koala
  • 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx
  • 10.10 Maverick Meerkat
  • 11.04 Natty Narwhal
  • 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot
  • 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin
  • 12.10 Quantal Quetzal
  • 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • 13.10 Saucy Salamander
  • 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr
  • 14.10 Utopic Unicorn
  • 15.04 Vivid Vervet
  • 15.10 Wily Werewolf
  • 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus
  • 16.10 Yakkety Yak
  • 17.04 Zesty Zapus
  • 17.10 Artful Aardvark
  • 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver
  • 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish
  • 19.04 Disco Dingo
  • 19.10 Eoan Ermine
  • 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa
  • 20.10 Groovy Gorilla
  • 21.04 Hirsuite Hippo
  • 21.10 Impish Indri
  • 22.04 LTS Jammy Jellyfish

Versions marked LTS are “long term support” versions.  Under the normal release cycle, each version is fully supported for nine months.  For example, support for the 21.10 “Impish” release will last until around June 2022.  Users can then update to the latest version for full support.  LTS versions, though, come out every two years as the first release that year (usually in April).  They receive five years full support, plus a further five years extended support for security purposes.  About 95% of all Ubuntu installations are on the LTS release cycle.  This is especially good for systems running on Ubuntu Server architecture, because it means that servers can continue to be supported on older hardware and software, before IT departments need to update to a newer version.


As a WordPress developer, this had to be on the list somewhere.  Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, Automattic – the people behind – and the WordPress Foundation, has a love of jazz and as such as named each major version since 1.0 after a jazz singer.  The only version that was not named was version 0.7, which was the first release after forking the system from v0.6 of b2/cafelog.

Each major version is usually released under X.Y  The current major version is 5.9, with version 6.0 earmarked for release soon.  However, two releases were given names while being released under X.Y.Z version numbers.  These were 1.0.2 “Blakey” (named after Art Blakey) and 2.0.5 “Ronan” (named after Ronan Boren).  Version 2.0.5 also broke with tradition and was named after the first born child of Ryan Boren, a significant member of the WordPress development team, rather than a musician.

To date, the version names (and associated musicians) are:

  • 1.0 “Davis” (Miles Davis)
  • 1.0.2 “Blakey” (Art Blakey)
  • 1.2 “Mingus” (Charles Mingus)
  • 1.5 “Strayhorn” (Billy Strayhorn)
  • 2.0 “Duke” (Duke Ellington)
  • 2.0.5 “Ronan” (Ronan Boren, see above)
  • 2.1 “Ella” (Ella Fitzgerald)
  • 2.2 “Getz” (Stan Getz)
  • 2.3 “Dexter” (Dexter Gordon)
  • 2.5 “Brecker” (Michael Brecker)
  • 2.6 “Tyner” (McCoy Tyner)
  • 2.7 “Coltrane” (John Coltrane)
  • 2.8 “Baker” (Chet Baker)
  • 2.9 “Carmen” (Carmen McRae)
  • 3.0 “Thelonius” (Thelonious Monk)
  • 3.1 “Reinhardt” (Django Reinhardt)
  • 3.2 “Gershwin” (George Gershwin)
  • 3.3 “Sonny” (Sonny Stitt)
  • 3.4 “Green” (Grant Green)
  • 3.5 “Elvin” (Elvin Jones)
  • 3.6 “Oscar” (Oscar Peterson)
  • 3.7 “Basie” (Count Basie)
  • 3.8 “Parker” (Charlie Parker)
  • 3.9 “Smith” (Jimmy Smith)
  • 4.0 “Benny” (Benny Goodman)
  • 4.1 “Dinah” (Dinah Washington)
  • 4.2 “Powell” (Bud Powell)
  • 4.3 “Billie” (Billie Holiday)
  • 4.4 “Clifford” (Clifford Brown)
  • 4.5 “Coleman” (Coleman Hawkins)
  • 4.6 “Pepper” (Pepper Adams)
  • 4.7 “Vaughan” (Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan)
  • 4.8 “Evans” (William John “Bill” Evans)
  • 4.9 “Tipton” (Billy Tipton)
  • 5.0 “Bebo” (Bebo Valdés)
  • 5.1 “Betty” (Betty Carter)
  • 5.2 “Jaco” (Jaco Pastorius)
  • 5.3 “Kirk” (Rahsaan Roland Kirk)
  • 5.4 “Adderley” (Nat Adderley)
  • 5.5 “Eckstine” (Billy Eckstine)
  • 5.6 “Simone” (Nina Simone)
  • 5.7 “Esperanza” (Esperanza Spalding)
  • 5.8 “Tatum” (Art Tatum)
  • 5.9 “Josephine” (Joséphine Baker)

You can see more information about each release by visiting the WordPress release page, including Changelogs, release dates, and database versions numbers.

What do you think about non-numeric naming concepts?  What concepts would you use?  Head on down to the comments and let’s discuss.

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