Tech talk: Pristine vs. Vanilla?

I hear from the IT powers that be (i.e.: probably any corporate IT dept) that I should no longer say “vanilla” when referring to a system that’s restored to it’s original state. I should instead use “pristine”, since vanilla is not politically correct.

Now I’m not a huge believer in political correctness, but I certainly practice sensitivity to genuine issues of this nature. But this seems like a particularly inane example. I’ve been using the term vanilla since the 70’s. I figure it refers to the fact that vanilla is the original, most plain type of ice cream. I don’t see that it involves colour at all; I’ve never thought of it that way.

So I shall continue to say vanilla. Will I be pissing anyone (other than P.C. plebs) off?

If you describe a computer system as “vanilla” you may deprive your company of sales to customers who assume this means the computer cannot be used to download and store dungeon porn and similar material.

Not that I would know about such things myself, you understand.

Any citations to an actual statement declaring “pristine” should replace “vanilla”? I’ve never heard any such thing.

I would say that I would distinguish the two terms (although they are close in meaning):

Vanilla indicates an unmodified system that has no extra “flavors.” Thus, a payroll system with no hooks or additions to a benefits management sysem or personnel files or an order system with no special coding to handle customer surveys.

Pristine indicates a system with no user modifications.

So, in the casual conversation among coders, a system that has been modified for add-on value is neither vanilla nor pristine and, I would agree, that most coders would have called the original system “vanilla.”

If the actual call is to distinguish between versions of a system that has or has not had user-mods applied, I could see a use for pristine as distinct from vanilla. (For example, a payroll package that is installed with vendor hooks to benefits and payroll is still pristine if it has had no on-site modifications, but it is not vanilla.)

I’m not sure who you’re talking about with the ‘IT powers that be’, but generally the terms ‘pristine’ and ‘vanilla’ are used to refer to two different things.

‘Pristine’ would normally refer to a freshly installed system, with no modifications at all. If you take a win2k CD and install it, then maybe put on patches, that would be a pristine system. Similarly, a pristine DB2 install would be just DB2, possibly with patches, and no databases created. Once you go in and configure more than the very basics (this kind of depends on context, usually for an OS you’d configure any hardware and a network connection on a ‘pristine’ system), you don’t have a pristine system anymore.

A ‘vanilla’ system is one that is plain, without extra software, significiant modifications, or unusual configurations. It is configured to the point where it does something, but doesn’t have anything odd about it. An NT box with an NT domain and some file shares would be vanilla, but would not be if you set it up to use DFS for user authentication and filesharing. A vanilla DB2 install would have DB2 running, and some databases, but no special drivers or tricky configuration. This one also depends a bit on context (someone who works with DB2 regularly would have a broader interpretation of ‘vanilla’ than I would, for example).

Why would anyone find ‘vanilla’ an offensive term?