Let’s Learn Spelling!

Were you looking forward to reading an exciting blog post about substantive technical issues affecting GNOME or the Linux desktop community? Sorry, not today.


It used to be an acronym, so it’s all uppercase. Write “GNOME,” never “Gnome.” Please stop writing “Gnome.”

Would it help if you imagine an adorable little garden gnome dying each time you get it wrong?

If you’re lazy and hate capital letters, or for technical contexts like package or project names, then all-lowercase “gnome” might be appropriate, but “Gnome” certainly never is.

Red Hat

This one’s not that hard. Why are some people writing “RedHat” without any space? It doesn’t make sense. Red Hat. Easy!

SUSE and openSUSE

S.u.S.E. and SuSE are both older spellings for the company currently called SUSE. Apparently at some point in the past they realized that the lowercase u was stupid and causes readers’ eyes to bleed.  Can we please let it die?

Similarly, openSUSE is spelled “openSUSE,” not “OpenSUSE.” Do not capitalize the o, even if it’s the first word in a sentence. Do not write “openSuSE” or “OpenSuSE” (which people somehow manage to do even when they’re not trolling) or anything at all other than “openSUSE.” I know this is probably too much to ask, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not so hard.

elementary OS

I don’t often see this one messed up. If you can write elementary OS, you can probably write openSUSE properly too! They’re basically the same structure, right? All lowercase, then all caps. I have faith in you, dear reader! Don’t let me down!

GTK and WebKitGTK

We removed the + from the end of both of these, because it was awful. You’re welcome!

Again, all lowercase is probably OK in technical contexts. “gtk-webkit” is not. WebKitGTK.

11 Replies to “Let’s Learn Spelling!”

  1. You’re right, but stupid companies starting proper names with lowercase letters are not a tiny bit better. ‍♂ The missing Red Hat space also is due to their old logo and thus self-inflicted. ‍♂

  2. Hi,

    SuSE make total sense for a German. It is an acronym for “(Gesellschaft für) Software und System Entwicklung” = “(Company for) software and system development”. In German you write a lot more things in uppercase, but not “und”.
    So this is not trolling, but check if the writer is maybe German. :-)

    Greeting from Frankfurt Germany

  3. You forgot SystemD ;)

    I actually disagree with much of this. For example, as much as NVIDIA or SONY want us to write their company name in allcaps for the attention, I don’t think people should bow to the wishes of their marketing departments.

    Simply, ALLCAPS words within regular TEXT are distracting and ANNOYING. In proper English, names, including names of companies, should be merely Capitalized.

    I prefer to apply the same standards to Gnome as well. Regardless of if these companies came up with some clever backronym expansion for their name, like Gnome did.

    I didn’t make up this justification myself; after being a Wikipedian for some time, I grew fond of Wikipedia’s trademarks guideline, which contains some reasonable rules for simplifying annoying trademarks.[1] Although it’s not applied uniformly, Wikipedia also takes into account the most common usage in other sources.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Trademarks#General_rules

  4. Now that GTK is plainly GTK without the ‘+’, I wana know what is going to happen with “gtkmm”!?

    They added the minusminus just, because the C-API already had occupied the ‘+’. Do the C++ maintainer want to change it, too? Something more expectable maybe? Like “gtkpp” or “gtkcpp”?

  5. Since parts of this post are about getting up to date with how names evolved, I suggest you update your argument about GNOME being a former acronym. GNOME being a registered trademark (that we even had to fight for against a company, you know the case) makes for a way better argument when trying to convince people.

  6. Another one: Pitivi is the correct spelling. I still see people using PiTiVi. It’s impressive what a strong impression that spelling made.

  7. Thanks! A lot of these spelling pitfalls I was aware of but was never quite 100% sure of. Like, I write “Red Hat” because I’m fairly sure someone told me in the past that that’s how it’s written, but I can never remember who, when, or why. Having it all written down on one page is helpful.

    That said, I still wouldn’t recommend starting a sentence with a lowercase letter even if the product’s name starts with a lowercase letter. To me it makes primarily the writer look sloppy and only secondarily the namer of the product.

    1. OpenSUSE is great. Everyone should use openSUSE.
    2. Elementary OS is great. Everyone should use elementary OS.
    3. openSUSE is great. Everyone should use openSUSE.
    4. elementary OS is great. Everyone should use elementary OS.
    To me, numbers 2, 3, and 4 look sloppy, but at least 1 looks OK. (2 because the “elementary” of elementary OS is a proper noun with no StudlyCaps in it at all, which looks weird, but at least it looks intentional … 3 and 4 look like mistakes on my part.)

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