Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's in a Name?

I taught a class for an internet computer application several months ago, and a discussion emerged about Apache Web Servers. For those less familiar with the inner workings of the web, Apache is a common, and well-respected, software that actually hosts and serves up the web sites you see when you’re surfing.

One class member asked repeatedly and pointedly why it was named Apache. I didn’t know, but inferred from his tone and insistence that he was somewhat put out, if not offended.

My curiosity being what it is, I found out where the name came from, and emailed him the following, from Apache’s entry in Wikipedia:

The author claims the name was initially chosen as a catchy name in order to be original, but the most widespread interpretation (which almost immediately surfaced) is that the name comes from the fact that when it was developed in early 1995, it consisted of changes in the code to the most popular HTTP server of the time, NCSA HTTPd 1.3 and was therefore "a patchy" server. However, in the FAQ on the server's official site, it is stated: "The name 'Apache' was chosen from respect for the Native American Indian tribe of Apache (Indé), well-known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and their inexhaustible endurance.

He graciously thanked me for my reply, including this phrase in his email:

In one aspect it seems like it could be honorable to the Apache nation that the company chose the name and in another it seems kind of insensitive.

I’m tempted to write back to tell him further research has shown the name was originally supposed to be Godless Dirt Worshipper, but that didn’t test market well, especially in Oklahoma and the Great Plains.

This is why I don’t have any friends.

1 comment:

nortonsson said...

Let your offended student know that Apache is not a company but a community of developers "who have demonstrated a commitment to collaborative open-source software development through sustained participation and contributions within the Foundation's projects." I suppose he/she could try to sue though...