Here’s Why Elementary OS Isis Was Renamed to ‘Freya’

Elementary OS utilizes an exciting naming scheme for its releases.

For instance, when updating this article, elementary OS 6.1 identifies as the “Jólnir” edition. Here, the term refers to the hammer of the thunder god “Thor” from Norse mythology.

All such versions have had names from different mythologies, a weapon, or the name of a god.

elementary os freya

Did you know?

The first elementary OS release was named Jupiter, King of gods in Roman mythology, and the second release was code-named Luna, named after Roman mythology goddess Luna.

Similarly, one of the initial releases (v0.3) elementary OS was named as Elementary OS Isis for quite some time.

In Greek mythology, Isis is the goddess of health, marriage, and love.

Unfortunately, they had to drop the name to replace it with “Freya“, based on the Norse goddess of love and beauty.

Here’s why elementary OS changed its codename to Freya

It was done to avoid controversies, as ISIS (Islamic State In Iraq and Syria) is also a ruthless terrorist group waging war in Iraq and Syria during that time (2015).

Specifically, the ISIS group turned to international terrorism that year, which made more people aware of such a name.

So, elementary OS developer Cassidy James originally announced through a blog post, the reasoning behind the name change:

While Isis worked well, there is currently an active militant group in Iraq and Syria, commonly known as “ISIS” (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). elementary obviously has no ties to that group—and we don’t think people will get us confused—but we want to both recognize the ongoing turmoil and choose a less controversial name.

Of course, no one would have considered the elementary OS team to be a part of a terrorist group.

However, the name would have surely gained attention/troll and had the potential for controversy. Furthermore, elementary OS “Freya” turned out to be a nice release. If you are curious, you can check out our original article where we reviewed its features.

What do you think were the thoughts of elementary OS creators during that time? Were you aware of this fact back then?

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  • It’s just smart to distance oneself from controversial names. For instance, the militant group ISIS may not have plans for you now, but in the future ISIS (or one of its rogue members or proponents) may commandeer, manipulate, mangle, distort, misrepresent, daesh-ify your GNU/Linux-based distro, or someone of that ilk may decide that you’re being blasphemous against Muhammad or Allah by using the name ISIS for a GNU/Linux-based distro.

    Conversely, someone who is anti-ISIS may decide that you’re in league with them or that your OS glorifies ISIS. And that someone may decide to take malevolent actions against you or your distro’s users.

    It’s not about being a wimp or a coward or a pansy. It’s about proactively minimizing the likelihood that some wing-nut will attack someone in the Elementary OS community over a perceived (or mis-perceived) issue like the similarities between Isis and ISIS. By the same token, you wouldn’t want to call it ISIL.

    Changing the name from ISIS is smart. But I’m not sure that Freya is a risk-free alternative. What if someone hates Scandinavian/Germanic mythology? What if someone hates the white people? You’ll be getting attacks from other races condemning your OS because of its imagined worship of northwest Europeans. Oy, vey!

  • I find it interesting that no one corrected him upon his misinterpretation of Isis. She was an Egyptian Goddess not a Greek one. The Greek version of Isis would actually be Hera. Not meaning to cast stones, but… lol ;)

  • BTW, whenever I boot up Ubuntu, on the screen there’s the repeated key ;;;;;;;;;; which goes on until I stop it. Once I log in, that key gets added whenever I type O, as in co;me to; the Iglo;o;.
    Any ideas?

      • Im beginning to think it’s the hardware (it’s an eeePC 1000HAB by the way).
        I’ve reinstalled Ubuntu but it’s still there. :(
        I’m not sure why it should have any script running cos it’s a fresh install. how do I find out if there’s one anyway?

        • Ok, for some reason the keys have set themselves aright. No more ; after o and w once I’m logged in.
          But every reboot the ; appears, and infinitely populates the passphrase box and won’t stop till I press a key, and then I’ll have to delete or backspace everything it typed. :(

  • Freya does have a nice ring to it.

    I always think of Catwoman’s pet cat when I hear Isis, not the militant group. :)