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Best DNS Naming Scheme For Small/Medium Businesses?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the elephant01-elephant02-elephant03 dept.

Networking 481

Bandman writes "My business just purchased a couple dozen blades, and with our existing servers, this brings us to around 60 machines. We're geographically dispersed, and most of the users who need to connect to servers are not technical (if that matters). We used to use theme-based naming schemes, but we've been migrating to a more utilitarian system. I think it's clearer and more concise, but I've had some feedback from users who didn't find it understandable. What do you use for your internal DNS schemes? How big is your network, and what do you recommend for future expansion? Does it matter to your users at all?"

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I use porn stars (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077093)

The guys at work seem to enjoy their time with Jenna quite a bit.

Re:I use porn stars (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077177)

I name them after my dick size in inches. Sad that I had to stop at one. If the company continues to grow, they'll be forced to buy me penis enlargement pills or suffer the wrath!

Re:I use porn stars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077445)

I use Neil Hamburger jokes.

1. Why did Madonna feed her infant baby dog food?

Well, she had no choice - that's just what came out of her breasts.

2. Why did Al-Qaeda under the direction of Mr. Osama Bin Laden burn in a public town square in Kabul, Afghanistan over 10,000 copies of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon album?

Cuz it's a terrible album.

3. Why did Paris Hilton absolutely refuse to sit on the toilet seat at Courtney Love's house?

Well, she couldn't - Courtney was already dead on it.

4. What does Sir Paul McCartney's wife, Heather Mills, have in common with The Dead Kennedys musical group?

Well, both of them only have three original members.

And the best...

5. Why did Bilbo Baggins cross the road?

To depress those of us who don't find those sorts of characters at all amusing.

Re:I use porn stars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077183)

I use sex moves. like "donkeypunch", "dirtyrodriguez", "cleveland-steamer", etc. Now, I realize most slashdot readers jack off to porn, but here's some tips for server names or if you get lucky with a hooker.

1. Hot Lunch - While receiving head from a woman, you proceed

to shit on her chest. (A.k.a. the Cleveland Steamer)

2. The Stranger - Sitting on your hand until it falls asleep

and then jerking off, eliciting the feeling of a hand job from someone else.

3. Western Grip- When jerking off, turn your hand around, so

that your thumb is facing towards you. It is the same grip that rodeo folks use. Hence, western.

4. The Blumpkin- You need to find a real tramp to do this

right. It involves having her sucking you off while you are on the shitter.

5. Donkey Punch - Banging a girl doggy style and then moments

before you cum, sticking your dick in her ass, and then punching her in the

back of the head. This gives a tremendous sensation, but for it to work correctly,

the girl must be knocked out so that her asshole tightens up.

6. Golden Shower - Any form of pissing all over a chick (a.k.a.- watersports)

7. Pearl Necklace - Well known. Whenever you cum on the

neck/cleavage area of a girl - it takes on the look of beautiful jewelry.

8. Coyote - This occurs when you wake up in the room of a nasty

wombat and you know you've got to give her the slip. However,

you realize that your arm is wrapped around her. Therefore you must

gnaw off your own arm to get out of the situation. Can be very painful.

9. Purple Mushroom - This occurs when a woman is giving you

oral sex and you withdraw your penis in order to poke it back into her cheek.

It should leave a lasting impression similar to purple mushroom.

10. The Flying Camel - A personal favorite. As she is lying on her back and you are hammering her from your knees, you carefully balance yourself without using your arms to prop yourself up. You then proceed to flap your arms and let out a long, shrieking howl, much like a coyote. Strictly a class move.

11. Fishhook - A variation of the shocker in which you pull

back towards the pussy after you stick your finger up her anus.

12. The Ram - Again, you're attacking from behind, when you

start ramming her head against the wall in a rhythmic motion. The

force of the wall should allow for deeper penetration. Very handy for those lulls in penile sensitivity.

13. Bismarck- This is another one involving oral sex. Right before

you are about to cum, you pull out, shooting your load all over her face. Follow that with a punch and smear the blood and cum together.

14. Jelly Dougnut: A derivation of the Bismark. All you have to

do is punch her in the nose while you are getting head.

15. The Woody Woodpecker: When a girl is sucking on your balls,

tap the head of your cock on her forehead.

16. Dog in a Bathtub - This is a proper name for when you

attempt to insert your nuts into a girl's ass. It is so named because it

can be just as hard as keeping a dog in the tub while giving it a bath.

17. Tossing Salad - Another prison act where one person is

forced to basically chow asshole with the help of whatever condiments are

available, i.e. Jell-O, olive oil, etc. I'm never going to prison.

18. Rim Job: Another name for tossing salad. Focuses on the use

of the tongue.

19. The Bucking Bronco- An all time classic. You start by going
doggy style on a girl and then just when she is really enjoying it, you grab onto her tits or hips as tightly as possible and call her a big fat no-good worthless slob. More than likely, she will try to escape. This will give you the feeling of riding a bronco as she tries to buck you off.

20. Pink glove - This frequently happens during sex when a girl is not wet enough.
When you pull out to give her money, the inside of her twat sticks to your hog. Thus, the pink glove.

21. The Fountain of You - While sitting on her face and having
her eat your ass, jerk off like a madman. Build up as much pressure

as possible before releasing, spewing like a venerable geyser all

over her face, neck and tits. (Better in her bed).

22. New York Style Taco - Anytime when you are so drunk that

when you go down, you boot on her box. Happy trails.

23. The Dirty Sanchez - A time honored event in which while

laying the bone doggie style, you insert Your finger into said woman's asshole, pull it out, wipe it across her upper lip leaving a thin, shit moustache. This makes her look like someone whose name would be Dirty Sanchez.

24. The Fish Eye - From behind, you shove your finger in her

ass (or his if you are in prison). Thereupon she turns around in a one-eyed

winking motion to see what the hell you are doing.

25. Tuna Melt - You're down on a chick lapping away and

discover that it just happens to be the time of the month. By no means do you

stop though. When the whale spews, tartar sauce with a hint of raspberry

smothers your face.

26. Fur Ball - You're chomping away at some mighty trollop who

has a mane between her legs the size of Lionel Richie's Afro, when a mammoth fur ball gets lodged in your throat and causes you to beat the piss out of her.

27. The ChiliDog - You take a shit on a girl's tits and then

proceed to titty fuck her.

28. Gaylord Perry: Going to only one knuckle during an anal

probe is for wimps. Make this famous knuckle ball pitcher proud and use multiple

knuckles on that virgin corn hole. A minimum of two knuckles required (either

on one finger or on multiple).

29. Rear Admiral: An absolute blast. When getting a chic from

behind (while both partners standing), make sure you don't let her grab on to

anythingwhen she is bent over. Then, drive your hips into her backside

so that you end up pushing her forward. The goal is to push her into a wall or table. It's almost as much fun to have her trip on her face on the floor. You become an Admiral when you can push her around the room without crashing into anything and not using your hands to grab onto her hips.

30. Glass Bottom Boat: Putting saran wrap over your partners

face and proceeding to lay a hot shit there.

31. Ray-Bans: Put your testicles over her eye sockets while

getting head.

(Picture it: ass on forhead) It may be anatomically impossible,

but it is definitely worth a try.

32. Snowmobile: Always a blast. When getting a girl while she's

on all fours, sweep out her arms so she falls on her face.

33. Dutch Oven: Rather simple. Whenever you bust ass while in

the sack pull the covers over both of your head so she can enjoy your pork and beans as well.

Re:I use porn stars (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077253)

How much of a load can Jenna handle?

Short and Concise (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077101)


Re:Short and Concise (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077257)

what goes after Server0003?

Re:Short and Concise (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077333)


Re:Short and Concise (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077357)

Countdown until somebody says "profit"

...Damn it!

Re:Short and Concise (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077361)


Re:Short and Concise (1)

cjb658 (1235986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077667)

Try naming one 'slashdot.'

Re:Short and Concise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077477)


Two words. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077109)

Body parts. Easy to remember.

"Where is that file?"
"In the nose."

Porn Stars (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077117)

Name your server after porn stars

The people that notice it are pervs and probably wont complain

The joke is on everyone else

Re:Porn Stars (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077135)

That won't work, unless you use first and last names (how many Jenna's are there again?), in which case the joke will quickly become obvious.

Re:Porn Stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077355)

So name them Haze, Jameson, Presley, etc. Those even sound reasonable.

Nice short concise meaningful systematic names... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077125)

...therefore all my servers are given a hostname string equal to the Dell "Service Tag", followed by a dash, followed by the Dell "Express Service Code".

I really love my junior admins, and whoever the poor schmuck is that will take my place as senior sysadmin once I'm gone from here.

No acroynms, use short names/words (5, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077137)

The best suggestion I can think of right now is to use short names or words and NOT use acronyms, because you'll end up with lots of people either not remembering the acronyms (typing them with typos) and/or not remembering which acronyms are associated with what.

Using something that should be familiar to most employes and not offensive to anyone would also help, especially when they call for tech support.

As a reference, on my network at home all the computers, servers and even devices have names from the Metroid games (Zebes, Samus, SR388, etc).

Re:No acroynms, use short names/words (3, Interesting)

kolbe (320366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077349)

Although I have done away with using names due to the size of the company I now "host". I used to use Cartoon Characters for all of my servers:

Sun Servers: Dilbert Names, Transformers, and Go bots
Linux Servers: Hanna Barbera, Disney, and Universal Pictures Cartoon Characters (Woody, Chilly, etc.)
Windows Servers: Scooby Doo and Misc names.

Find a schema that works for you though. If your line of work is in a specific industry, perhaps you should use that as a guideline when choosing as it may help others remember the servers better.

Re:No acroynms, use short names/words (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077647)

Don't use themes that are hard for illiterate slobs or new-to-English folks to spell properly. I remember at one company I worked, the art director decided that all the art machines would be named after famous artists, especially her favorite: impressionism masters. Yeah, right, let's connect up to matisse, gaugin, renoir, manet, monet, delecroix, macchiaioli, or seurat, there's a file on there I need.

Keep it simple, stupid (5, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077139)

Your users really shouldn't have to know the name of any server, anyway. That's what shortcuts and mapped drives are for (pushed down via login scripts/GPOs).

Name the servers with logical names based on their function, and maybe an extra number to distinguish servers with the same function. Put all of the REAL info into database. Trying to put lots of config/location details into the DNS name is a waste of time. There no reason to have names like FILESERVER-CHICAGO-02-2003RT when FILESERVER2 would suffice.

Re:Keep it simple, stupid (1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077261)

"Your users really shouldn't have to know the name of any server, anyway."

What if his users are network administrators or developers?

manager: Johnson! migrate the new code from drive z: to drive x: stat!
j0nson: umm but i use linuz!
manager: FAIL! you are the fired!
j0ns0n: aw...

Re:Keep it simple, stupid (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077353)

Use shortcuts instead of mapped drive letters. Shortcuts are MUCH better solution, anyway. You can give them decent names. Use GPO to put a shortcut to a folder containing shortcuts to network locations into the "My Places" bar in Open/Save dialogs.

Re:Keep it simple, stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077517)

perfect, so when a hacker breaks into your network he knows exactly what servers to target.

Re:Keep it simple, stupid (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077537)

Z: is a *much* better name for a server eh? :-)

An example (3, Insightful)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077145)

A good host name should denote the following:

-department/cost center
-some sort of serial # to make it easy

Depending on how your sites are named (I like using airport codes but it might not scale right for your org), you could wind up with:


Which would denote san jose office, marketing, fileserver, production, 01.

Adjust as necessary for your use.

Re:An example (5, Insightful)

Dr_Harm (529148) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077203)

Depending on your business, you may not need all those things. The original post asks about "small/medium" business... but when you have that many machines, you're clearly a 'medium' business. Small businesses don't need all that.

Also, why are people so hesitant to use multiple levels of DNS domains? Couldn't that server also be named That way, everyone in SJC knows it just as "marketing production file server 01". Only people off-site need to realize that it's in SJC.

Re:An example (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077419)

A good host name should denote the following:

-department/cost center
-some sort of serial # to make it easy

Depending on how your sites are named (I like using airport codes but it might not scale right for your org), you could wind up with:


This is the worst advice I've seen so far, but far too common, alas.

It breaks the rule that the server name should be easy to say over the phone, and that no single typo should cause an issue.
Try playing chinese whispers over the phone with sjcmarkfilep01 a few times, and you'll see why it is stupid. Heck, just try to talk someone through entering the name.
And then someone makes a typo, instructing support to install a new card in sfcmarkfilep01, which also happens to exist, and be vital for San Fransisco operations. An oops that could have been avoided with a smarter and typo-resistant naming system.

Also, why avoid subdomains? What's wrong with marketing.sanjose.internal? That way, you can do "ping dns" and reach, and ask someone to take a look at the secondary file server without having to spell out sjcmarkfilep02.

Anyhow, if you want convoluted names like these, make them secondary names. There's nothing that would prevent from also being known as

Re:An example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077555)

Also, why avoid subdomains? What's wrong with marketing.sanjose.internal? That way, you can do "ping dns" and reach, and ask someone to take a look at the secondary file server without having to spell out sjcmarkfilep02.

Based on the earlier comments this makes absolutely no sense because it makes good rational sense.

Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.

Re:An example (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077577)

Not to mention all the renaming that would have to be done when the machine moves...

Alphabet soup for host name doesn't strike me as being very bright either... (and it *might* be offensive to your Slovenian client "My mother was a what ??").

Re:An example (2, Insightful)

nosfucious (157958) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077627)

No, I'd say it's a pretty good scheme.

A naming scheme based on cultural references is bound to fail as soon as you deal with non-english speaking backgrounds. SideShowBob is probably only good for US/Can/Aus/Nz/UK. Telling one of our Russian counterparts to look for SideShowBob01 is not going to work.

- ISO standard Country codes (3 characters)
- Site number within country (1 digit, we only need one)
- O/S NT based, LX based, MC based, A4 for AS/400
- WS Workstation, FS (File)Server, DC Domain Controller.
- Unique number. 3 digits only are needed here for us.

We have a flat DNS space. One domain. Works for us.

But it's probably a good idea to have your DNS managable by the local IT support. Three timezones is best handled with 3 DNS domains (AfEurope, Americas, Asiapac).

People tend to realise which resources they are commonly connecting to. And mostly that should be scripted. Anyone else is going to be careful what they type.

Job's done.

My test domains on the other hand are a much funner place. Bundys, Flintstones, Simpsons and Family Guy are good targets. Keep the group membership based on family and you do have an easy to remember scheme. Bit characters are always good for testing unauthorised access.

Re:An example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077573)


Which would denote san jose office, marketing, fileserver, production, 01.

You do realize DNS is hierarchical, right?

I realize it's not the most keyboard friendly but feel free to abbreviate/switch/alternate as necessary.
Most users will only be using local resources anyway and will know servers as "fileserver01".
Organized enough and you can let people name servers however they want as long as it's in the right spot in DNS. works too.

You can follow the same theme with IP addresses:


A = location
B = function
c = host

We code names by location and function. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077159)

Something along the lines of XXyyy01, XXyyy02, where XX is a two-character code for the computer center in which the box physically resides, yyy is the basic function of the box, and 01, 02 are numbers to describe each unique server in each location/category. Zones on Solaris servers are indicated with -Zn where n is the zone number.

Re:We code names by location and function. (2, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077241)


Why only 2-character codes? Host names can be long.

Here's what happens when you go with that kind of naming scheme.


It goes on and on. Now try saying PDD and PDP over the phone and see how well that works.

Re:We code names by location and function. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077329)

Pappa, Delta, Delta and Pappa, Delta, Pappa... Gee, works for me;)

Several schemes (5, Interesting)

silanea (1241518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077171)

We (somewhere between small and medium, branches in Germany, Austria and the US) use two naming schemes:

The primary scheme is [serverclass+#].[branch] This is what we, the tech staff, use for establishing connections for live systems and what we communicate to our users.
Examples would be, etc. These names are more logical than physical, ie. one machine that offers several services via one IP is reachable under several names. This allows us to flexibly assign machines to certain roles.

The second naming scheme is what we use to identify the physical (resp. virtual) machines, versus the logical services. And it's simply Shakespeare characters. In my branch we went through the Tempest, the others started off with King Lear, Othello and another one whose name escapes me. We use those names only for reference and for management operations (SSH'ing, file transfers, whole-disk backups, virtual machine management), so our users never get to see those.

Interesting... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077611)

...and also the first post I see where there is more than one name for each machine. It does make sense, though - so much sense that I wonder why most people don't seem to do it. It does allow for transparent moving of duties between machines, which sounds very useful to me. But then again IANAsysadmin.

Note: Any sysadmins who do have sound reasons for using exactly one name per machine are encouraged to share them. I'm not an admin, but I'm also not stupid enough to pass up information.

user training (1)

glorpy (527947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077195)

My employer is a Windows shop (shudder). The servers run by IT use a 2-3 letter prefix to indicate the role, followed by the version of Windows, followed by an enumerating suffix. Hence we end up with names like exw2k301 (Exchange Server, Windows 2003, server 1). Of course, standards are made to be broken and the main print server maps to nt008a and the file server to nt014. Unless you can turn the servers into load-sharing devices and then use purely functional names (mail, web, file, print, etc), there's going to be a learning curve for your users.

RFC1178 (5, Informative)

fmwap (686598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077197)

There's a whole RFC on this: []

Interesting specifically says:
'Don't choose a name after a project unique to that machine.'

I agree with the reasoning, but on large scale DNS deployments, I can also see this being a nightmare... I just use arbitrary names, nothing too hard to spell.

location/purpose naming (5, Interesting)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077201)

As fun as it is to give servers clever names, only the tech savvy staff are going to remember the true purpose of that machine (oh it's a reference to the roman goddess of proxy caching... duh, what's wrong with end user!).

It's easier for users to follow the idea if naming conventions follow a logic pattern. My small company has locations in multiple states and use host names like cityFileServer or cityProxy. Once users understand the role of a particular server, it's a trivial task to use one physically located at a different site. This also helps prevent vague help requests like "the server is down" because they are able to articulate exactly what they are talking about.

If it's a network of equipment that will never be used by end users, hell make it clever as you can. Most of the IT staff are going to use the IP addresses rather than the hosts anyway.

Simpson Characters (1)

rmrfstar (854542) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077205)

Everything at my office is named after Simpsons characters. We have Krusty, CrazyCatLady, DrNick, McBain, SideShowBob, etc...

Re:Simpson Characters (2, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077225)

Didn't you get the memo?
SideShowMel replaced SideShowBob a while ago.

Re:Simpson Characters (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077427)

Must be an enterprise system. They're always a bit slow to upgrade.

Re:Simpson Characters (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077279)

I wouldn't trust my files to your sideshowbob server.

Re:Simpson Characters (2, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077645)

But its locale is set to de-DE! A system that speaks German can't be a bad system.

Re:Simpson Characters (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077553)

Cool, I have beers and coffees. Main office has American beers and satellite office ave foreign beers. Networks are names after coffees.

simple convention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077207)

In my organization we have multiple business units that we've bought over the years.

While we've attempted to migrate most of those units into enterprise apps, we still have a few outliars.

For servers we'll typically use something like.

business unit
server function
# of server performing that function (exchange = exchange01, etc..)

For common things like front end servers we'll give nice friendly names to. citrix, webmail, etc...

Utilitarian (3, Insightful)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077209)

I've worked in shops with 100 boxes to 10,000 boxes. Having systems with cute names from a movie or theme works for a while, but the system starts to break down once replacement machines start entering the network.

Probably the best naming scheme was first sub-domained by airport code and/or country code:

If that doesn't work, you can also do
Once you've got your subdomains worked out, the machine host name ends up being the function, or a code you've designed to indicate function (since you don't want to tell everyone what your boxes do). You probably also want to include a numeric component as well. ie NS3, NI2 (Network Infrastructure ie DNS, DHCP, routing, firewall, etc). Make sure you document what each designation machine does, that way people don't start running around naming things incorrectly.

I like this system because it allows for growth, replacement, and tells you something useful about the machines if their name shows up in a log somewhere.

I would argue that many of your users don't need to touch the machines, especially those in production. If there are some that users need to access, you can always create a CNAME to give them that gets them to a box that already has a name in your organized naming scheme.

Hope that's useful.


Big flat spaces (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077217)

With cryptic names. Well, not cryptic, they just have nothing to do with the function. The users shouldn't have to know anything about the names of the servers. They should just tell you what they're trying to do, and you should go forth and fix it, or tell them why they're stupid as nicely as possible (unless you work in an all-Unix shop and you're the only one who knows how to work sh.)

If it's really big and complicated, use subdomains, that's what they're for. It's most convenient if you can map them to subnets for your own sanity.

System Naming Conventions (1)

kolbe (320366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077229)

While it may not be the more desirable, I've always used the following or similar context in server naming:

1-3 character Company Name: CO
1-2 character City, Building, or locale: CY
1-4 character Server Function: SRV
1-3 character Identifier: 01

Final Name: COCYSRV01

A more real-world example would be:

Company: Cogs Inc
City: Dallas, TX.
Server: Active Directory Server
Server ID: #2


If you have trouble making up a universal acronym for something, try visiting the following site: []

Regardless of the size of the company, this schema has always worked for me.

Doesn't really matter, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077233)

Depends how the 60 blades are logically divided up. I can't imagine you have 60 different daemons running, or a reason for 60 absolutely distinct servers. Group them into clusters, number servers in the cluster (don't bother including location in the hostname, just have a table somewhere if actual location matters), name the cluster something random and be done with it.

Consistency is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077243)

Working in a large datacentre a consistent naming scheme is critical for ease of maintenance. This should not only encompass the servers but also any switches, firewalls, load balancers or other hardware.

As a suggestion for you, try to come up with a scheme that is meaningful and provides information about location, purpose, operating system and any other information that might be pertinent. For example NYCSWT01IOS for New York, Primary Switch, running IOS, or INDSAP02LNX for a SAP server in Indiana running Linux

We use a series of numbers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077255)

What we do is use a series of numbers separated by periods to designate a hierarchy. For example, the servers in the company all share the first number, say 192. Then, each department has its own number, say 168, giving us 192.168. Then, each location in the department has a number, such as 204, taking us to 192.168.204. Then we give each server a unique number, like 10, bringing us up to It's very easy for me to recognize where a machine is by that address. We try to keep the numbers under 255 to make them easier to remember, and it's really not many more digits that a long distance code and phone number.

interesting idea (4, Funny)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077265)

Make a Hash MD5 code from the location address of the server + it's Serial number. Use that for the server name. Or use a dictionary. start from a pre-determined random page and use the 3rd word on that page.then every server takes the 3rd word from the next page and so on... or start from 0001 and work up..

Re:interesting idea (5, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077677)

How about using an SHA-1 hash of an incrementing counter? The first box is, the second one is etc. The mapping between counter values and machines is stored in an Excel spreadsheet, printed out and stored in the server room.

That way you get a unique naming scheme that's both logical, understandable (you can convert the host name into its counter value through a simple rainbow table) and reasonably safe from hash collisions.

My scheme.. (4, Insightful)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077269)

It doesn't really matter what you name the machines, so long as they are unique names. At my company we use the names of sugars for all our Linux machines, and alcohols for all our macs.

Now, the important part is just to use aliases for all services. So for example, if SMTP runs on a machine called dextrose, then create a DNS alias that points to that server. If there is more than one server providing the service, you can either use round-robin DNS (if it doesn't matter which one is used), or just provide a numerical suffix to the alias.

If you have a compute cluster, I strongly recommend numbering the machines sequentially, then you can use a tool like PDSH or bash {} expansion to address groups of machines.

subdomains (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077273)

Road Runner, which is a cable internet provider for Time Warner if you didn't know, uses a perfect system. My e-mail is at and the NEW is northeast wisconsin (even though it covers all of Wisconsin except Milwaukee). I've seen other acronyms for different areas too. Nobody seems to forget 3 simple letters around here. So I dunno much about networking but I think you set up the subdomains and point each one to each server and you're set.

.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077277)

I would go with .com

Pubs (2, Insightful)

ngunton (460215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077281)

When I was at the University of Edinburgh back in the 1980's, I seem to remember the CS workstations being named after pubs in the city. That worked since there are so many pubs in Edinburgh - practically one on every street corner. It worked pretty well because the names were distinctive and recognizable, and it was at least a little humorous. I think it's better to use a set names that people already recognize, since the brain is really good at recognition. Abstract names are not so great, since they require conscious effort to memorize.

Uses and subdomains (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077285)

You can create subdomains, and maybe be more descriptive with utilitarian names based on what they do or something descriptive enough to be clear, i.e., or even

Or you can keep the funny names, but use different schemes for different places/functions.

Function-based names (3, Informative)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077289)

Having worked at two companies now with 8,000+ servers each, unless you're changing server roles all the time, function based names are best. Even in a small environment, I would recommend this scheme. Pad the names to at least two digits, more if your expectations require; i.e. 01, 02, 03. Site names based on local airport codes are also good. If you have multiple sites in one geographical area, suffix the names with 01, 02, 03, ...


Some would argue against this for purposes of "security". I think this is flawed for several reasons:
1. It's security through obscurity, which is no security.
2. If someone's freely in your network, the jig is already up.
3. It only serves to complicate things when you get bigger, and inevitably go to function based names.

Cheeses (3, Funny)

grizdog (1224414) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077297)

The University of Wisconsin CS Dept. used cheeses. Never seemed to have a problem with running out, although they named two machines kraft-slices and velveeta, and the lawyers moved in and made them change.

Incidentally, included among the cheeses were puff, whiz, and head (the latter is also a popular Wisconsin food product, so it's all good).

Here's mine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077299)

[boss' name]ISADIK

[female boss]ISACNT


CLLI (Silly) (1)

blavallee (729704) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077305)

Outside of the cartoon characters I use in the lab, I like to 'model' my naming scheme on 'Common Language Location Identifier' (CLLI [] )


Elements (1)

wynlyndd (5732) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077307)

I use the names of Elements for my machine naming scheme. They are short, recognizable, and if you want to be really anal, they are already in groups and you can apply those groups to type of servers.

(Halogens are the mail servers, Lanthanides are the web servers, actinides are the databases, etc)

Re:Elements (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077481)

did the message say Manganese went down or was it Magnesium?

Use short NON-GIVEN name! (1)

cycler (31440) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077315)

Use an abbreviation for departments och service.

Like mail01, mail02, ldap01 .....

Never use given names like: Gandalf, Merlin, Rincewind or whatever from your favorite move/book/game.

I can't think of something more unprofessional than using given names for computers.


Re:Use short NON-GIVEN name! (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077531)

Never use given names like: Gandalf, Merlin, Rincewind or whatever from your favorite move/book/game.

Why, exactly (except copyright issues)?

It's by far easier to take a support call for than it is to take a support call for, and if unsure what does and who to contact, have the internal DNS return HINFO, RP and TXT information that tells you.
(And make a weekly printout for the major SPFs and internal DNS servers themselves)

Even big corporations will never run out of easily pronounced and memorable words, especially if they also use subdomains.

If you can't reliably take down a server name over the phone, it needs a better name. Period.

Re:Use short NON-GIVEN name! (1)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077581)

I can't think of something more unprofessional than using given names for computers.

Wow, that's a serious imagination shortfall you have there. Come and work with me for a day, I'll show you at least THREE things.....

I think the main problem with 'themed' names is extensiblity, so yes, it's shortsighted and therefore unprofessional. Having said that, I worked at a place where the 'original' DEC servers were called 'NODDY' and 'BIGEARS' (yup, TWO servers, we were a largish high-tech outfit). Once there was 'a computer on every desk', rather than a VT100 in every office, the naming scheme went to a more standard 'Location-Function-IndexNo' schema for the new NT boxes, but the venerable old boxes kept their Blytonesque names.

depends what they're for (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077319)

We use different naming schemes for different subsets of servers depending on what they're used for.

For general-use clusters that people are going to ssh in to do work on, need to remember the names of, and are actually different (i.e. we don't have five servers just for load-balancing, but for five different things), we tend to use theme-based names that are short and hard to misspell. E.g. the old standby of computer scientists: turing, knuth, etc.

For servers that are going to be used as part of a cluster, or identical machines with identical mounted filesystems/home-dirs, we pick a name and append numbers. E.g. foo01 through foo99. There's really no reason to give them names, and it makes simple bash/perl/etc. scripts easier to write than walking a list of names kept in a file. Round-robin DNS then resolves foo to one of the foo## randomly for a user who just wants any machine in the cluster. (If you want to get fancy you can preferentially direct them to an unloaded machine.)

err, a caveat to the above (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077345)

Again in the "depends what they're for" vein, we do have a set of general-purpose servers with identical mounted filesystems/home-dirs that do have different, non-numerical names (still the short, hard-to-misspell variety). These are mainly compute servers for people who leave long-running jobs in screen, because it's easier to remember "I set some stuff up on knuth" than "I set some stuff up on foo32". The load-balancing can be sub-optimal in this approach (people tend to pick a machine they use as "their" compute server, and some names seem more popular than others), but it mostly works.

STDs (1)

KC1P (907742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077339)

(Credit: Gordon Greene)

If you want an endlessly expandable name space, you can't beat STDs. The catch is that no one can spell half of them.

Dead celebrities are good too. You can use the cause of death as a subdomain, to keep things a bit less chaotic. People *can* spell those.

Re:STDs (1)

bartjan (197895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077485)

We toyed with using that theme for the next group of servers. Hepatitis would do great for a cluster ;)

No doubt management would veto it...

Use CNAMES by function (1)

spribyl (175893) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077367)

Here is what I did.
I used a utilitarian naming scheam and then use CNAMES for functions.

Everyone is happy.

Theme based schemes do scale beyond 60 hosts... (5, Interesting)

bartjan (197895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077373)

Where I currently work, we manage 550+ AIX (and a few Linux) systems. I'm told there are also about 800 or so Windows images. They all have theme based names. Most AIX systems do have biological names, but a few are named after lakes and chemical elements. Windows I'm told uses car names.

Similar servers do get related names. For example, all chemical elements are Siebel systems, Oracle runs on snakes and TSM on nuts (main site) and monkeys (the backup site). IMHO, this works well, as it makes it easier to remember what server(s) demand your attention, and harder to confuse systems with too similar looking names.

You have a problem here... (2, Funny)

ZeroPly (881915) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077379)

If you can't name more superhero characters than you have servers then either...

(a) We're going to take your official geek card away.

or (b) You should already know more about naming conventions than anyone reading this.

Seriously, there shouldn't be a problem with a mix and match scheme. For instance, name a typical server but use DNS to give the important ones a second name as in

don't waste your time on it (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077383)

In a small/medium business, there are not enough systems that you need to worry having structured naming conventions. In those situations, I just make sure they are,
  * 8 chars or less (for compatibility with everything)
  * no special characters (punctuation, etc.)
  * easy to spell and to pronounce
  * hard to confuse with users/functions/places -- who knows what this server will be used for in the future. Save yourself the effort of renaming it.

Sometimes I pick a theme, but it's mostly for fun, or to make it easier to come up with a name.

e4V! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077393)

Mod points a8d writing is on th3 one or the other Real problems that

Applications or network drives? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077417)

Are you talking about having a user point their web browser to or are you having them connect to a network drive? -filer/share....

I wouldn't tie the name to the hardware since you should be architecting your environment to be able to migrate the application/share to new hardware in the next few years, so doing something like DL380-row1-rack2-A isn't a wise idea.

If you're naming storage devices (arrays) than -- is a good solution. EMC-1234-14AA

Coming up with "cutesy" naming schemes like national parks, sports teams, beers, guns, cartoon characters are neat if you have 5 systems that no end user would connect to or get offended by.

Madness, I know, but.. (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077437)

Server4 ...

I think you can probably see where this is going.

can't stand themes (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077443)

We used to use theme-based naming schemes

oh god please no.

Our machines were named based on themes, and that's the WORST idea on the planet. If you are going to give things names, things that need to be immediately recognized for what they are. If you have too many to give them logical names, then name them as radically different as possible so you can tell them apart in a heartbeat. The whole point of naming them is to avoid confusion, or we'd just number them wouldn't we?

Name them Orange, Peanut, Chrysler, Diamond, and Dolphin. Pick names that are not easily confused. Stay away from names that identify people or places, to avoid other communications issues. "Tom has that" should not leave you wondering if Tom is a server you don't usually work with, or is someone named Tom. Same for "Where's that database? Detroit?"

I have to deal with one group of servers that are all named by Star Trek (TNG) ship names. And at another location they are all weather phenomena. BAD IDEA. I don't deal with the trek machines much and they just can't understand why I can't remember the difference between Enterprise and Intrepid. Sure if you deal with them daily you'll get the hang of it, but picking similar names is a nightmare for anyone unfamiliar with the system. If we only had one space ship for a server I could associate that uniqueness with its purpose. But no, I'm thinking "OK the firewall runs on the spaceship... oh ya that's right we have SEVEN of those... was it DS9 because it's a station? Maybe Defiant because it's defying the hackers? OK where'd that list go?"


And if you're tempted to use a different theme for each location, just DON'T. What's more important to you, being able to tell what a machine does, or knowing where it's at? If you do theme by location, all you're going to clarify is where it's at.

Re:can't stand themes (1)

wpanderson (67273) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077569)

Interesting ... I've used Trek names internally for over 12 years with a simple nomenclature.

My own servers, desktops, laptops, phones, PDAs, etc get Federation starship names (e.g. "enterprise", "intrepid", "saratoga", etc).

Any kit belonging to my employer gets a Klingon starship name ("bortas", "amar", etc).

Routers, access points etc get named after ways they use to get around ("wormhole", "subspace", "graviton", "conduit", etc).

Games consoles use recreational names ("kadis-kot", "holodeck", "dabotable", etc).

Were I to apply this to a corporate(ish) environment, I'd simply CNAME the functional name on top of the system name for servers etc, and have that functional name appear in the motd (where relevant).

Once you get your head round "OK, this is a particular naming scheme", figuring out which 'spaceship' you need to log into is trivial. You're going to have to remember any other naming scheme with something like anyway, so the 'learning' part will have to happen at some point ...

Re:can't stand themes (1)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077663)

I've used the same scheme. VM's get smaller ship names, or shuttle names. On top of this, my internal domain is ;-)

I use (1)

hinchles (976598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077449)

Mostly obvious names internal. Dev1 Dev2 are the 2 primary dev servers Backup is the backup server svn is the svn server test is the live environment test cluster. Where it gets confusing is in our hosting cluster. The external world sees the cluster as just hosted. but each server also has a 2nd network card linked directly to our internal lan where ssh etc is available internally the servers are names alpha, beta, ceta, delta etc apart from the 2 mysql servers which are called db1 and db2 oh how inventive I am

With a few thousand servers... (1) (1021409) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077455)

We use location/company initials/dev-test-qa-prod/function/number for most of our machines. Seems to work and once you get the scheme, you can start guessing where things are if for some reason somebody doesn't have the docs on a certain application.

For instance:
ABICPWEB02 would be A = Data Center: Arizona, BIP = Big Important Company, P = Production Server, WEB = webserver, 02 = #2

It CAN get tricky with things like DBICQASQLCLU01 (Delaware, Big Important Company, QA, SQL Cluster, #1), but whatever... You can figure it out. :)

Mythology or religious characters (2, Interesting)

Scuzzm0nkey (1246094) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077459)

I tend to pick a religion or set of mythos and just go with the varied names therein. I have a domain with Hades, Ares, Zeus, Athena, etc. I also did a Hindu one with Shiva, Kali, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Vishnu, etc. Hard to get them mixed up that way, and you can generally tell which are related by their names.

Zankoku na Tenshi no Te-ze (1)

polemon (743631) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077469)

I started with three computers: Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar. They're my MAGI-System.

My Laptops are EVA00 and EVA01. I spray painted them accordingly...

No I don't wear a blue and white neoprene suit when operating them. I don't wear hair clips, either. But I do call the stylus of my PDA "The lance of Longinius"...

We use : (2, Informative)

ratboot (721595) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077475)

- 1st letter : S for Solaris, L for Linux, W for Windows, etc.
- 2nd letter : P for Production, T for Test, etc.
- After is the shortened name of the service : DNS, FTP, etc.
- And end it with some incremental numbers : 00, 01, etc.

So it might look something like :


Re:We use : (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077631)

that's the first one of all of the above that really makes sense, but I also like the airport code idea if you're geographically spread out.

I use a 4 digit code for my names .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077479)

something like which resolves to for example. I haven't heard of any users complaining about this so it must be great!

Use multiple names (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077487)

Names serve at least two purposes. First, they designate a particular machine and should be kept the same over its lifetime (barring the occasional re-christening) to avoid confusion if someone reads old documentation (e.g. trouble tickets about failed hardware). Second, names designate the purpose to which that hardware is being used (e.g. "mailserv" should always be the current mail server). Over time as hardware gets reassigned, these two purposes will inevitably drift apart.

The solution to this quandary is to realize that it is not an either/or problem. Nothing prevents you from having multiple DNS entries for each machine. Put the "real" name in the DNS that is kept invariant right along side a "purpose" name (e.g. "www", "smtp", "dev1", "test4", etc.) which can be freely changed as needed.

naming scheme we used for thousands of servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077503)

-- hostnames (very long ttl - should never really change) jfk-l3-n1 jfk-l3-n2 pvd-cg-n1 then cname functions (shorter ttl, so you can move functions from machine to machine): prod1db -> jfk-l3-n2

Server Naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077551)

The actual name you give the server is arbitrary. End users should not reference this name whatsoever. The name should not be tied to a function, since functions can move from server to server. How many companies have mail2 as the mail server and mail does something like printing or DNS. Or DNS is downgraded to a workstation and bind1 now is the DNS server. If you want to use the serial number or asset number. My personal favorite is to "name" servers using names like bob, sally, walter, joe. You then give functional names through DNS. points to, points to and so on. End users only refence the functional name, that way moving or upgrading systems is transparent. Same goes for load balancing and DR nonsense. Avoid location and functional names, when these change is causes more work or confusion. I'd even recommend against using company name in the system name. You never know if you'll get acquired or name changes. Upper management gets their panties in a real bunch when the old name shows up somewhere.

Not really a suggestion, just sharing, really... (1)

thesman (655727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077565)

My first experience was with two servers only, so the obvious choice was to name them Beavis and Butthead. Then the network grew and we decided to go with planets (keeping good ol' Beavis and Butthead). After a while (a few years) the network grew again, and by that time, each location decided how to name their own servers. Oh.. beavis and butthead are still breathing!

Oh my god, it's full of themes (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077567)

The comments on this article make me stabby.

If/when I run a company where I need to hire IT folk, this will be one of my interview questions. If someone says a good naming scheme would be planets, elements, or some other theme based nonsense, (s)he's getting the boot.

as somebody with computer names up the wazoo (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077605)

... from clients, here's a quick rundown of what people name their machines.

At #1: brand names: hp-xxxxxxxx,DELLxxxxxxx; These are probably default-ish names as set up by their respective server/workstation installs.
At #2: unimaginative computer task names; workstation01 through workstation 67, server, fileserver, notebook, and so on.
At #3: user types / names; administrator, JohnDoe, etc.
At #4: television personalities of the non-human kind; Chairface being one of the more obscure.
At #5: random english words; frustrator, biatch, soprano, atlantic, colossus, coffee, dragon, etc.
At #6: indecipherable stuff; B36Y321, for example. It may be some manner of encoding scheme known only to the SysAdmin at the places, but it definitely make trouble-shooting with an end-user more difficult. "Are you running this on B36Y321?" -"Yes." "Are you sure?" -"Oh, sorry, I'm on B36Y312. Let me go find B36Y132" "..." "..." "..."
At #7: norse gods; The top three: Thor, Freyr, Loki

Beyond that it gets a little mixed.. TV characters are somewhat popular - though I must say there are a lot of girls' names in there that don't fit into #3; i.e. the name is not the name of the (primary) user.

Now, whether going by the above is sound advice for YOUR business, I wouldn't know. I will say this, however, names are -much- easier than cryptic encodings. I can understand some encoding for differentiation between offices, departments, all that; Beyond that, however, finding the machine named "-Thor" is a lot easier than finding machine "-23" in a long list of other "-##"-numbered machines for most places; I guess because numbering only makes sense if you physically have them in a row of sorts; moving machines would automatically break that.

Depends which environment I'm in... (1)

mrmagos (783752) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077621)

Any place I've worked at, I've always advocated using utility-based naming schemes, prefixed with the org's abbreviated name, e.g. xyz-mail01. As systems needed replacing, I've migrated many places to such a scheme, usually from theme-based or other similar nonsensical systems. It just looks more professional and is easier to become acclimated to as new staff arrives.

At home, however, I use the Cthulhu Mythos as a naming theme. I posted this from my laptop, Byakhee [] . Nonsensical, yes, but it keeps me amused.

Planets in the Star Wars Universe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24077623)

Nal-Hutta - (the Hutt's new homeworld - for the beancounters)
Tatooine - remote-office server
Hoth - the cold northern office..
Alderaan - for the site in India that works out of a condemmed bulding.

That list covers ~ 3000 - easy enough for a small business.

Our convention (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077643)

As has been said before, cute conventions do tend to fall apart after a while. On our network (A World War Two Aviation museum) we use classes and names.

Desktops - WW2 Aces. Gabby-Gabreski, Pappy-Boyington. My office machine is Richard-bong, which leads to great conversations about if Bong is ok, where is bong, etc.

Servers - WW2 Operations. Anvil, Mincemeat, Overlord

Misc devices. Gateways, Access points - WW2 A/C. Mustang, thunderbolt, spitfire.

Having classes has been more useful than anything else. Plus, it gets people at least a bit interested in how we do things, since folks ask about what the names on their machines mean.

Oh oh I know this one! (5, Interesting)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#24077675)

I'm not a developer so I don't get to say all the cool things I do at work often here *grin*

OK, at my current employer there are about 100 or so servers in a single geoloc, so it's really no big deal to name them. My previous job was at a company with a few thousand boxes spread out over three timezones in four cities (in the US), India, Australia, the UK and Brazil.

I was not involved in the naming scheme project, but I thought it worked very well.

Basically, the machines were named as follows:

  [three-leter tasking code][3 digit num sequence].[location subnet].[main subnet].[company name abbrev].com

So let's say the company was Mordor Corp. The FQDN for a web server box in the Portland data center would be:

An app server in Brazil was:

In the case of the servers in the US, initially they used the airport codes [] for the cities (Portland = pdx, Houston = iah, Ft. Lauderdale = fll, etc) but later we just came up with three-letter codes for some data centers because it was more intuitive (HOU is better than IAH). For the other countries, we used the generic 'ads' subdomain and the two-letter ISO country code.

The server types were:

STO - File servers
APP - Application servers (could also be web servers)
WEB - Web servers (dedicated)
SQL - Database (any type)
PDC - Primary domain controllers
SDC - Secondary domain controllers
EXC - Exchange servers
DNS - Guess
LIC - Licensing servers
TSS - Dedicated terminal services boxes
SRV - Generic servers (to be avoided!)

There were a couple more but these were the main ones.

This scheme worked very well because the identifiers and numeric sequences are mnemonic, but most importantly, it scales. Numeric sequences were assigned as servers were imaged and named, pulling the codes from a simple database application someone at the company wrote. The sequences were tasking-specific, meaning that APP servers were sequential and unrelated to the WEB sequences, for example. The only problem I ever saw with that was the situation where we had more than 1,000 server of a single type, but as far as I know that never happened. In any case sequences could be re-used as servers were retired.

I've seen server naming schemes that used cartoon characters, Star Wars figures, elements, celestial bodies, etc. None of them worked (or would have worked) beyond 100 boxes or so.

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