Articles / What's in a name?

What's in a name?

More than fourteen years ago, I was configuring Linux-based server systems for customers. I was quickly losing track of the then-current versions of the applications I needed to install in order to make those servers perform their intended tasks. Those were the early days of the Web, database-driven websites were almost unheard of, and I didn’t have the slightest idea about programming.

One night during the fall of 1997, I started cobbling together a static HTML page containing the latest version numbers and links to the websites of the Linux kernel, the Apache webserver, and Vi, respectively. The page was using a table-based layout, used <font> tags all over the place, and was in desperate need of a name.

Tossing around a few combinations of words in my sleep-deprived head I came up with a working title for my little version-tracking page – and freshmeat was born. Little did I know that this brand would survive the dot-com bubble, see services like Google, Wikipedia, and Twitter grow to a massive scale, and be accessed from mobile phones and tablet computers over fast broadband connections.

Times change.

freshmeat has operated under the radar of its parent company Geeknet for more than a decade, while numerous sales teams have struggled to position the freshmeat brand appropriately among potential sponsors in the United States. Outside of our very own small niche of the Web, people have all sorts of associations with the name freshmeat, most of which have nothing to do with a free, open source software directory.

Due to the nature of our offering, which makes content and services available to developers and end-users for free, we rely on ad revenue to keep the lights on.

Since all of us at Geeknet agree that this site and the community powering it have tremendous potential, even after more than 14 years of existence, we decided to change the name of the site, effective immediately, to Freecode.

With this new name we expect a huge leap forward in the ability to position the site commercially, without additional efforts required to explain the name. This should result in better ad products displayed on the site, which means a better site experience for you, our users, and more resources for our community. Freecode will also be more attractive and less ambiguous to new users.

I am the first to admit that it took me a moment to realize that this change was needed. I hope I can count on you for your continued support of our efforts, now under the new name Freecode.

As always, please send your feedback our way on Twitter or on our help forum.

Patrick Lenz
Site director Freecode

RSS Recent comments

29 Oct 2011 22:16 skinkie Thumbs up

Dear Patrick, I understand the rationale. But does this also (finally) mean that non-free code is not on this site anymore? Recently I started to wonder why freemeat became just an announcement site of all kind of software instead of free software. Software of which source code was not available, its license was not free and certainly was not free as in gratis. Looking forward to your reply. Stefan

30 Oct 2011 01:53 zonezero Thumbs down

Well here is a me too comment and a "if it ain't broke don't fix it!" comment. Did you work for the SciFi or is that SyFy channel?

30 Oct 2011 03:23 Avatar pabs3 Thumbs down

I too would like to know if this means non-free code is no longer welcome at freshmeat/freecode.

30 Oct 2011 05:16 imipak

The rationale makes sense, but there's always a danger in rebranding and the majority of users of the site are going to be so used* to the F/L/OSS nomenclature debate that the *ahem* alternative meanings are a non-issue for us. Advertisers, yes, are a breed apart (I think they're descended from Denisovians) and don't speak our language which is bound to impact revenue. However, because they don't speak our language, there's going to have to be some line drawn in the sand because otherwise they'll object to everything. Forever.

*"Used", in this sense, means worn-out, battered and dog-eared.

30 Oct 2011 07:44 scoop

The focus of freshmeat (and now Freecode) has been and always will be Free and Open Source Software. We've always had the occasional listing of a non-free project, but it's never been in any significant volume.

I did a quick snapshot analysis of the current license distribution, available here:

Currently, less than 4% of all projects in our database are using a non F/L/OSS license. Going forward, the new brand name will certainly foster our focus on F/L/OSS listings, so I don't expect this number to grow any time soon.

Additionally, the site has always provided registered users with the ability to filter out certain license types if you simply aren't interested in projects distributed under certain licenses. These settings can be found here:

Hope this helps,

30 Oct 2011 10:15 iusty Thumbs up

At first, I was "Oh my god, renaming freshmeat! Caving in to advertisers! The world is going down!". But yes, it makes sense. Thanks for keeping freshmeat^Wfreecode alive all these years and continuing to develop it!

30 Oct 2011 11:53 kryshen

That means to me that from being somewhat underground this site is transforming to something commercial and mainstream thus loosing it's true value and uniqueness.

30 Oct 2011 11:56 djzort Thumbs up

Given the current fad for dropping vowels and domain hacks, i'm surprised that it wasn’t or some such.

It would be nice to see some sort of graphs showing if the name changes make any real difference. What i think the real problem with freecode/freshmeat/whatever is that of waning relevance. My recommendation would be to syndicate automatically from popular project hosting sites like sourceforge, github etc. in addition to projects self posting.

30 Oct 2011 16:21 lbrtuk

The world will never be the same again!

"Additionally, the site has always provided registered users with the ability to filter out certain license types if you simply aren't interested in projects distributed under certain licenses."

I tried using these filters for many years and it just didn't seem possible to get rid of _all_ nonfree software, so I eventually gave up. No matter what I did some nonfree software would always creep through. I suppose I'll give it a try again.

30 Oct 2011 19:54 kazkylheku

Scoop, what's absolutely amazing is that you actually got the domain "". Congrats.

30 Oct 2011 19:56 kazkylheku

P.S. definitely keep the freshmeat domain. I.e. let people surf this as "freshmeat" without a URL redirect. The code can substitute different words and graphical elements into the UI basedon which URL is used. Just a thought. :)

30 Oct 2011 20:02 wondermike

get also ! That would show your affinity towards OSS within the TLD.

30 Oct 2011 20:43 xripclaw

it would be nice, though, to have a "freshmeat" CSS Skin - just for us old timers :-D
(keep in mind, not everyone likes javascript and stuff...)

30 Oct 2011 21:19 solardiz

As what I think could be a better alternative to djzort's suggestion to "syndicate automatically", how about encouraging Freshmeat^WFreecode users to submit high-quality updates to projects other than their own? Introduce some kind of rankings, prizes (even something as simple as free Freecode t-shirts for active contributors, which would also serve to promote Freecode). Maybe hire someone to submit updates to popular (at Freecode) and to other major projects (not necessarily popular at Freecode yet, because some major projects are only "non-popular" at Freecode for lack of update postings here). Currently, I am aware of exactly one Freecode user who regularly posts updates to major projects that are not his own (such as the FSF/GNU stuff - the maintainers of those projects typically do not post updates on their own). This is user barsnick. I thanked him for this activity via private e-mail a while ago, but a more tangible thanks from Freecode is in order, I think.

31 Oct 2011 00:48 tingo

Are you sure that changing the name to "Freecode" is the right move? There is already a company named FreeCode ( which was started in 2004), and the parent company, FreeCode International ( claims to have at least a couple of offices outside of Norway. Yes, this is a Norwegian company and it is probably too small to be well known outside of Norway.
Disclaimer: I am not related to this company in any way.

31 Oct 2011 10:53 kat

At last. I've always been somewhat puzzled by the name "freshmeat", as it has connotations that have nothing to do with software. So glad that you've renamed it to something that makes sense as soon as one sees the name.

31 Oct 2011 13:14 exaexa Thumbs up


could there be a legacy skin option that would rename it back to freshmeat? I found "freecode" name a bit misleading (from the other point of view it's a good combination of buzzwords and not much more...), and well, missing "Fresh"ness is the reason.


31 Oct 2011 14:58 hrabbach Thumbs up

Finally I don't have to explain to my wife anymore that this is a site I really need for work :)

31 Oct 2011 15:01 Avatar ufoot

Err, let me look my calendar. Is that March 31st? Nope, April's fool is just so far ahead... Well, very best luck with this new name. Somehow it will never be the same again, the fact freshmeat did have a name that was almost off-topic had its charm, now the magic is broken. But hopefully the site is still up and running, active, and if this makes it easier for you to fund it, I'm ready to cope with my nostalgia. Best regards.

31 Oct 2011 15:26 todoyu Thumbs up

I appreciate the new name! Good luck guys and thanks for your work!

31 Oct 2011 17:13 imipak

@solardiz: As an active FM/FC enthusiast, I *ahem* update other people's records from time to time, as some maintainers are exceptionally bad at this. They "create and forget". (...And then wonder why nobody knows what they're doing...) Quality depends on what the project website has available - a well-written changelog is a very different kettle of fish than trying to puzzle what's going on by diffing the files.

Sounds like I'm not the only one who does this. It would be wonderful, though, if FM/FC could see some way of encouraging this and I'll second the call for either a full-time or contract updater if/when finances allow. A dead record for a live project is not helpful to the community.

31 Oct 2011 17:30 Avatar dskoll Thumbs up


Thanks for running FM all these years. Good luck with your new name. (It took me a few minutes to figure out why logging in wasn't working... had to allow cookies from :))

31 Oct 2011 20:57 tino

OMG Pumpkin ate Freshmeat away. Call Buffy! Quick!

31 Oct 2011 22:31 edscott Thumbs up

Good move. I never fancied the freshmeat name, being a vegetarian...

31 Oct 2011 23:18 djzort Thumbs up

solardiz and imipak make good points as well. though i dont see there being a single perfect option. So whilst i still think that hooking in to project hosting sites is a really good option[1], i 100% support the idea of making non-maintainer updates easier[2]. In terms of point 1, it may be worth publishing an API so that sites like sf, github, alioth, or new upstarts can feed in updates easily. There could also be something like the 'open graph' protocol which project owners can embed in their sites HTML, allowing freecode to suck out the latest versions, or maybe just a yaml metadata file... for example. For point 2, perhaps create some sort of facebook-ish 'like' button that projects can put on their sites. This would be very social indeed.

Again, i dont think this is a silver bullet and fully support any other great ideas people may come up with as well.

01 Nov 2011 06:03 Romster

This is going to take some time for the new name to grow on us. I did prefer the freshmeat name better being more leet. The vision of that hook logo will never die in my mind, though progress things must change. yes do grab freecode.{org,net} com is too commercial for Linux. Part of me wants to rate up this article but then another part of me wants to rate it down. Was there no vote for the members to see if we wanted this change?

01 Nov 2011 08:21 1gray Thumbs up

Well, aside of all the things already said, and even though I'm going to miss the old name a bit, such a name change surely looks like a good gift for World Vegan Day.


01 Nov 2011 13:06 jaromil Thumbs up

Good vibes @ scoop and all the good people in the FM team. IMHO the name change Is a wise choice overall, just a pity for missing the .net, but ok. On the nostalgic wave that this article is raising now, I feel stating that Freshmeat has been so far the most amazing "social networking" site reaching planetary span, a common place where people share code, tools and visions. Right on!

01 Nov 2011 18:48 imipak

@djzort: Again, I'll second all your points as those are some excellent ideas. There needs to be something to handle freak circumstances, though. Fortunately rare, I've encountered some bizarre situations over time and maintainers who are... interesting to say the least. These are the cases where no rulebook will help. The site admins do a wonderful job, but really I'd argue that the social aspect of this site is under-utilized in these cases. It would be immensely valuable to be able to discuss - in friendly, co-operative, non-inflamatory ways - how to approach such situations.

01 Nov 2011 21:33 Avatar leszek_dubiel Thumbs up

Very good move -- I prefer to download code from freecode. Freecode is about code and freshmeat is about meat?

01 Nov 2011 23:28 seliger

It was always awkward to explain to people that "freshmeat" wasn't a porn site.

One time, I let a non-techie friend's girlfriend use my [work] laptop to look up some stuff. She was using the browser and happened to notice in the URL list. On the way home later that evening, she asks my friend, "So, does he frequently look at porn on his work computer?"

Needless to say that got back to me and I laughed my a** off. I still give her grief about it and I'll be disappointed to let her know that is no more.

Also, I loathe the day when gets released out into the open, a REAL porn company buys it and I accidentally revert to the URL I've been typing for years...

Keep up the good work -- long time lurker here looking for all my OSS goodies.

02 Nov 2011 08:42 Avatar amontefusco Thumbs up

Even if the world (well, my world) will not be the same again, I understand that change makes sense.
Many thanks for have kept working freshmeat in the past and keep up the good work!

02 Nov 2011 22:57 skinkie Thumbs up

Dear subscriber,

gesslein just announced version 15.7.0 of Mathomatic on

You make freshmeat work.
So, we want to know a little more about you.
Answer a few quick questions, and we'll enter you to win a $100
ThinkGeek gift certificate.


Looks some work has to be done ;)

03 Nov 2011 08:33 Avatar sharljimhtsin Thumbs up

a little surprise.

best wish to new site "Freecode"!

04 Nov 2011 07:57 mihael_schmidt

It is really sad that this site is renamed. I have visited this site daily for over 10 years. With the name change it definitely looses its "geekyness" and becomes another normal website. Going back to

04 Nov 2011 15:15 jfr3

Can you give us a option in settings so that it will still show freshmeat?

12 Nov 2011 06:32 msobkow Thumbs up

I'll miss the freshmeat "brand", but I understand the rationale completely.

19 Nov 2011 20:15 stevenaaus

Nice brand change.

27 Nov 2011 16:33 yayoubetcha

Honestly, I have not used much in the past five+ years. I was visiting several times a week in the first four or five years of your site's existence. I believe that I was not getting what I wanted from, and I was discovering sources elsewhere by using Google search and code-project hosting sites.

Personally, my visit to that led me to discover your name change, will not affect my reduced usage (4 or 5 visits a year now) of your site.

I do not believe that this site has kept up with the times. A serious open-source / open project search engine would be a good thing. So, a more serious effort in your software would get me coming back. The name change is of little significance to me.

15 Dec 2011 18:12 Avatar homeless Thumbs down

I guess I'm late to the party, but I just now discovered the new name. was interesting, had a history, and was memorable. I had a number of conversations with people just explaining what freshmeat was. This lead to some good conversations about Free Software and non-proprietary OSes.

Freecode is generic, boring, and misleading. Much of the software linked to here isn't really Free. Maybe it makes marketing easier for the salespeople, but I'm not digging it.

Still, it's Geeknet's site so they can call it whatever they like.

17 Dec 2011 13:05 makler Thumbs down


I understand that world need to change continuosly, but it is a pitty to see that some old good services are dying, like usenet.

I will miss

Anyway - free code is not for free. Who is paying? Developer, by spending months of his life on OS code. And everybody from you know that. And everybody who is downloading free software knows
that there is someone who is spending time.

What"new" freecode may do is:
to encourange "commercial world and good people" to pay to best OS developers
(those small OS software, not big players). Please setup some rules, and Freecode foundation,
then list really good developers, good projects, up to date projects and give them money to live.

That would help developers to keep updating the projects. Otherwise many of the projects are dying
not because they are bad, but because developer has no motivation to continue. She or he will just work for big companies, just earn some money for life.

It should not be the contest, since that would be one-time motivation.
That normal return from the world to developers, would improve the world.

Please think of it. Without that we will see projects not updates, disappearing.

07 Jan 2012 08:40 unwesen Thumbs down

What a sad day.

11 Oct 2013 17:25 ArloJamesBarnes Thumbs up

The new logo is also somehow appealing, although I am not sure I understand it...what font does it use?

09 Jan 2014 13:00 tomasbavington

As someone who has worked in advertising I completely understand this move. I also write articles for an IT recruitment agency ( ) and can confirm that, even in the world of IT recruitment, nomenclature is incredibly important.


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