This post is a short one talking about what names to choose for your virtual machines.

What names to use

A while ago we run into multiple issues caused from bad naming. That’s why we want to share our concepts of naming things right.

This post is dedicated to naming any kind of system. Systems can be virtual machines, bare metal systems, sometimes even containers.

We are not the first people running into naming issues and therefore even an RFC exists to clarify what names to use and what not. Most of our naming comes from RFC 1178 .

Why is naming important

You may ask yourself but why should I care about the name I can just rename it. The answer is simple. Renaming systems is a pain.

Changing the system name can mean a lot. For example virtual machines, you can change the name but not the hostname of the virtual machine. This alone can cause a lot of confusion. If you change both this can have impact to other references like domain names. In some network configurations the domain name is directly derived from the hostname of a system.

This can lead to extensive configuration issues as well as a lot of confusion for people using these systems.

It’s easier to just give yourself a minute to think about a proper name to prevent all this.

Proper naming

A general good rule is to use rarely used words/names. The name should be some what rememberable and it is very popular to use theme names.


  • mythologic names of persons or places like thor, loki, midgard
  • names of planets like mars, venus, jupiter
  • elements like helium, argon, plutonium

What names not to use

In our long history of managing differnt systems we run into a lot of issues using names and ignoring RFC 1178.

We learned that any name that is a reference to a system should never be used as a name since references can change.

An example of such a name is the fully qualified domain name (FQDN ). Domain names are a reference to your system configured outside of the system itself and therefore can change quite easily. If this happens your domain name and the system name doesn’t match anymore. Espeacially if you are not the person who set up the system this can get quite confusing. So if you think let’s name my system don’t do it.

As a general rule of thumb

Don’t use references as names, especially the ones that aren’t under control of the system itself.

For more ideas especially what names not to use RFC 1178 is quite funny to read.

Some exceptions to RFC 1178.

RFC 1178 excludes names that describe the purpose or responsibility of a system. This comes from an age, when system reuse was often way more easy then setting up a new one. Since Virtomize allows you to rebuild or create systems very fast and easy you will not stick to systems to often. Instead if an old system is unneeded deleting and building a new one is the way to go.

Therefore we also recommend using names that fit the general purpose of the system.


  • company-website
  • mailserver{-01,-02,…}
  • internal-chat

Also, naming using department names can make sense to some degree:

  • it-mailserver
  • rnd-deployment{-live,-test,-staging}
  • marketing-webserver

be carefull when using person names for systems. Think about what happens to the system if the person e.g. leaves your company or changes the department. Are these systems cleaned up. Are there data on these systems needed by the persons department or other people. In general using persons names as part of a system name is a bad idea.

We hope the post helps you choose proper names without running into issues like we did in the past.

Thanks for reading so far and see you in the Virtomize.