So what's a Zimbra?

By | September 12, 2005

We have been quite happy with the response thus far to the name Zimbra. Hopefully, Zimbra is growing on you the same way it’s been growing on us.

The name Zimbra comes to us from Talking Heads’ (our choice for best band of the 80s) tune “I Zimbra“, which can be found on Fear of Music (which ought, by the way, to be in your collection). Zimbra alone, of the thousands of names that we considered, came out of a desperate late night search through the CD collection to head off alternative names like HobNob, AquaFront, and Oompa Zing. (We’re use failed company names for our conference rooms, and there’s no possibility of our ever running out.)

Zimbra came to the Heads via Dadaism, which Wikipedia defines in part as a “protest against an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society.” Hugo Ball, a Dadaistic poet, wrote a nonsensical poem—Gadji beri bimba—just for the sound of it, and then Talking Heads made poem into song.

Zimbra apparently also means “Juniper” in Portuguese, but the term doesn’t seem to be in very common use. (At least, my Brazilian friends hadn’t heard of it.)

But we figured all that stuff out after the fact. The reality is that we just like the sound of Zimbra, and admittedly several of us still love the Heads.

I think to date naming may have been the single hardest thing the company formerly known as Liquid Systems has had to get done. Naming is hard, because
• It’s one thing nearly every employee and perspective community member cares passionately about;
• You have to endeavor to avoid collisions with many thousands of commercial software products (since every man or woman and his/her dog can have a commercial software product);
• You also have to endeavor to avoid collisions with 100,000+ open source projects;
• You need something that anyone can easily spell once they’ve heard it (I learned this lesson the hard way—“Tengah” was at one time the name for the WebLogic Server); and
• Of course, you need to be able to get the URL and trademark (both of which would have been challenging if we’d tried to keep the name Liquid).

Looking forward, however, there’s one part of naming that we still haven’t sorted: What do we call the members of the greater Zimbra community?
• Zimbrainians
• Zimbracans
• Zimbradors
• Zimbrashers

Your vote or additional contributions would be most welcome on this blog thread.


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