Gluster and the ‘Ant’ — Reason behind

On our way to home, back from Office, we normally car-pool. Not just because we can save environment, but mainly because we can keep sane from going mad due to Bengaluru Traffic :-) As a practice, we also announce our departure from our office if there are any empty seats in car, so anyone going towards South of Bangalore can join us.

One such day, a new member to Gluster team joined us for car pool. In some short break between our usual discussions on how to achieve world peace, she told to me. “I have understood some of the technical designs of GlusterFS, but there is one question, for which I never got an answer, even after searching the internet”. While I should admit GlusterFS’s documentation is not kept in order, I, in most cases, if you ask, try to give details of the history and reasons behind most of the things in Gluster. As she was working with me for some time now, I wanted to know which is this unanswered question in Internet.

When asked, she said, “Why Ant?”, ie, why did gluster project choose Ant as a logo. If my memory serves right, I don’t remember writing about it, nor reading about it, anywhere. So, I answered her with the reason behind choosing Ant. As it is not clearly documented in Internet yet, decided to write this blog too :-)

Now, lets go back a decade or little more. It was the time when gluster was still a project with just over 5 developers, and our office was still Hitesh’s house in SF Bay Area, CA. AB (Anandbabu Periasamy, now @ minio) and me were the only 2 other regulars in that room. I had shifted to USA as we started getting customers who were ready to pay for supporting Gluster, from BLR. (Anand) Avati used to visit twice a year, and rest of the team was in BLR.

Gluster’s initial office, A room in Hitesh’s home. This is where we discussed and picked Ant.

We were everything from developers, QA, doc team, marketing team, sys-admins (for managing our webpage, and mail server), etc etc. In one of the discussion where we wanted to increase user base, AB suggested we should write a book on GlusterFS. We all liked it, and soon, more than the content, the discussion turned in to what should be the front page like ? Then we realized, we as a project too, don’t have a logo :-) Again, it became immediate next step for us to choose the logo. We spent whole of afternoon discussing and talking about various options.

At that time, glusterfs project was hosted in GNU’s Savannah, and many many other bigger projects and foundations had ‘Animals’ as the logo. Most of the popular O’Reilly books on opensource projects were all having animals as front page too. So, we decided our logo also should be an animal :-) That was easy! Hard part was choosing which one.

Where we place ‘Gluster’ in the logo has changed, but the ant is still the same.

I suggested Ant, and not everyone was happy to pick something that small initially. I needed to make a point of why Ant, and there was a theme I tried to think with. I had some points in mind about Why. Also, I was always amazed by the colonies put up by Ants. Hence defending the reason about ‘Why Ant?’ was not such a hard task. Below are some of the reasons I gave then, and I continue to give now, let me know if you think it still holds relevant:

  • Works as a group :- depicts clustering, no-need in single node.
  • Can lift more weight than its size :- people perceive it as user-space, and hence think it as ‘slow’, but we were choking the n/w even then.
  • Small :- indicates lean footprint.
  • Loosing one ant doesn’t matter much for the community as a whole :-indicating no single point of failure.

Well, once these points were made, it was evident we can’t have anything else other than Ant as a logo :-) Soon AB worked on artwork, and getting legal permission etc from people to get the logo registered. Ever since, we have the Ant as logo, and going strong still.

Thanks to Varsha for asking this question, and triggering my interest in writing blog again.

Thanks to Carpool team of Sacchi, Aravinda and myself 😄 We have generated 2 or more patent ideas during carpool time, and all of us continue to be sane after an year of shifting our office.

Thanks to AB/Hitesh for creating Gluster, and special thanks to Avati, to get me into the team when it was just 3 members :-)

That my friends, is the story of Gluster and the Ant!!