The Tale of Red Hat's Name!
The post discusses 3 versions of stories telling “How Red Hat got it name!”. The post is based on Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat, interview. Each of them is an interesting one to read.
In the interview Bon Young stated that “the red hats have been symbol of liberty throughout western civilization” He further elaborated saying that the “Slave rebellions identified each other by red bandanas and in the French revolution the revolutionaries wore their red cockades. There is a tradition in western history that red being the symbol of liberation and challenge of authority.”
Some details: By wearing the red Phrygian cap the Paris sans-culottes made their Revolutionary devotion and plebeian solidarity immediately recognizable. Also, during the period of the Great Terror, the cap was adopted defensively even by those who might be criticized as moderates or aristocrats and were especially keen to advertise their adherence to the new regime. The cap or bonnet rouge was first seen publicly in May 1790, at a festival in Troyes adorning a statue representing the nation in the French revolution. To this day the national symbol of France, Marianne, is shown wearing a Phrygian cap!
The cap was also incorporated into the symbol of the late 18th century Irish revolutionary organization the Society of the United Irishmen. The English Radicals of 1819 and 1820 often wore a white “cap of liberty” on public occasions.
Fellow co-founder Marc Ewing owned a baseball cap like hat that he inherited from his grandfather ( a red lacrosse hat). When in university he used to name his software projects “red hat 1”, “red hat 2” and so on, just to differentiate his projects from his friend’s projects. Later when he started the Linux project he abruptly named it as Red hat! Bob Young elaborates this in his interview by saying that “in the first version of Linux that was the Halloween version he (Marc) made a little request that anyone who happens to visit Philadelphia area and come across his grandfather’s red cap he (Marc) would be grateful if you returned it to him because it is the only bug to this very day that red hat has failed to track down!”
While Marc wore a red hat in his university he became known by it. If any of his mate encountered problems in computer they used to ask Marc for help. The people who did not know him asked “Who is Marc?” and they received replies “The one in red hat!”. Therefore red hats become synonymous with technical expertise!
View the movie of the interview here.