Debian Package Name Poetry
Benjamin Mako Hill

In honor of Debian's long-awaited Sarge release, I decided to honor the release with a poem created using only the names of Debian's nearly 17000 packages. With this project, a new genre was born. This page collects my work in genre.

If you'd like to experiment, you can get a list of packages with something in the cache on your system with something like:

apt-cache search '.*' | perl -p -e 's/^(.*?) -.*$/\1/' | sort

If you want, you can then compare this to a word list and look for non-unique words which will leave you with something like 600+ dictionary words which is already quite a vocabulary. Now, there are many packages whose names are not dictionary words but which are pronounceable and understandable and also great candidates for inclusions in poems. I went through the whole package list by hand and tried to separate these out into a larger 1600+ word list that also includes the full list of dictionary words. If you want to make your own poems, you might be well off working from this list. You can download it here.

Finally, if you write any poems under this constraint, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'd be happy to link to or host your poetry here.

Without further ado, onto the poems!

Ode To Sarge

In my first poem, I wanted to use sarge's packages to talk about sarge's release and then further constrained myself by also requiring that the poem be a proper rhyming limerick. The poem attempted to describe my happiness and initial desire to celebrate as I read the Sarge release announcement email. For reference, "Woody" was the very stable but quite old predecessor to Sarge:

Woody: the stone and the jail.
Dynamite newsflash. Coolmail!
"Sarg: Happy Birthday!"
Thy cruft thrust away!
Bonsai! Foremost odyssey: Ale.

Bash and Slash!

This is my second poem honoring the release of sarge. It's overly harsh on a couple other distributions. In reality, I have no problems with either of the projects in question. This was really just a matter of engaging in few good natured jibes with other competing distributions.

Redboot: Greed.
File inn latrine (apoo).

Gentoo sux!
Velocity? Ne!
Crash? Yepp!

Sarg felt most tardy.
Foremost, nice.

Untitled Poem #1

Usually, the first two poems I write in any new genre or under any new set of limitations are a political poem and a sex poem. This poem is my political poem. It describes and calls for an anarcho-syndicalist violent uprising against an overzealous United States police-state using only the names of packages in Debian (which is not something, for the record, that I personally advocate):

The tripwire felt apt-Spy.
Whois kommander? FBI.

Meld worker members: Kontact.
Spread crimson mercury extract.

Guarddog toppler: Unison!
Subversion! Flamethrower! Arson!

Roundup, recover, remind.
Recite anarchist verse inn rhyme
Freedroid? Ne! Recode freemind!
Update freedom inn gnotime.

Untitled Poem #2 (Not Work Safe)

After elevating my new genre to such lofty heights with the preceding poems, I wanted to even things out and drag it through the mud a bit. The following is a sex poem that, like the others, uses only the names of Debian packages:

At the stripclub:
     Kiss, hugs,
     Vino (and corkskrew), vim, vigor and vice.

Alexandria, the Tramp.

The conquest:
     Wine? Yepp!
     Icebreaker and drivel...
     Suck.. Suck... Hiki!

Unzip underware... Coq.
Yank, Harden. Yepp.
Honeyed hot-babe... Hotplug!

Super bonobo sex atop Alex!


Contributed Poems

Others have tried experimenting in the new genre. These works include the following poems.

Untitled Poem by Jim Cheetham

Jim describes his first work as, "four letters of the Debian Alphabet to explain Hollywood and the DMCA." Without fruther ado:

anarchism - abuse arts and artist.
(buffy boxes brahms)
chaplin, chicken. crossfire.
dialog, discover, dime. ding!

Eagle Enlightenment by Anonymous

An anonymous author says, "I live in Cle Elum, Washington and took a trip to the coast to go camping last week with my wife and little one and other friends. We saw eagles there and I hope this work captures some of what we saw."

Glide2-base, checksecurity: Fortify Tree.
Control-Center-static: leave.

Search-Citeseer, Openuniverse, Adventure away . . .
ScottFree, FreeSweep, FreeRadius: odyssey!

Eagle flying, enigma di grace:
Areo Fluid inn Motion - crystalspace.

Animals arc by Antonio Ognio

Antonio describes this contribution as, "loosely themed around the Intelligent Design debate." If you read Spanish, you can also read his web page on the poem.

ample bison
lightning gnus
divine eagle
chicken egg
flying bird

lynx: gato grande
smarty dog
mono bonobo
happy donkey

mantis specimen
worker ant
nano-tiny amoeba
snoopy gadfly
alien bugsx from space-orbit

vile boa, python serpento
seahorse, fish, squid
terminal zoo or evolution rosegarden?