Vanilla software

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In computer science, vanilla describes software, hardware or algorithms that have not been customized or modified from their original form.[1] The term "Vanilla software" has become a widespread de facto industry standard, widely used by businesses and individuals. The term comes from the traditional standard flavor of ice cream, vanilla.[2] According to Eric S. Raymond's The New Hacker's Dictionary, "vanilla" means more "ordinary", not "default".[3]

Examples of how to use "vanilla" in a sentence:

  • As one of the earliest examples, IBM's mainframe text publishing system BookMaster, provides a default way to specify which parts of a book to publish, called "vanilla", and a fancier way, called "mocha".[4]
  • The term "vanilla" is sometimes also used for hardware components. For instance, in the 1990s non-upgraded Amiga home computers were called "(plain) vanilla";[5] similarly, it was later also applied to PC parts.[6]
  • For Unix-based kernels, a "vanilla kernel" is a kernel that has been unmodified by any third-party source. For instance, the vanilla Linux kernel is often given a Linux distribution–specific "flavour" by being heavily modified.[7][8]
  • In his book End of Ignorance, Charles Winborne refers to a static page that is "only a text file, but one that links to accompanying files" as a plain-vanilla web page.[9]
  • Video game players usually refer to games without installed mods as "vanilla".
  • JavaScript, when used without any libraries or third party plugins is referred to as "vanilla JavaScript".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is vanilla?". September 2005. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  2. ^ Hilden, Katri; Robinson, Tim; Currie, Lee; Hutchinson, Emma (2006). Iced: 180 Very Cool Concoctions. Murdoch Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-74045-818-4. Retrieved 4 Apr 2013. Vanilla has become a synonymous with 'plain'- perhaps most vanilla ice cream is flavoured with fake vanilla extract
  3. ^ vanilla /adj./ "[from the default flavor of ice cream in the U.S.] Ordinary flavor, standard." from the Jargon File
  4. ^ Gary Richtmeyer (2002-05-01). "B2H User's Guide (HTML 3 version)". AT&T. Retrieved 2013-10-16. Conditional sections (.cs) and BookMaster's "vanilla" DVCF macros (.CONFIG and .WHEN) are supported, but not BookMaster's "mocha" DVCF macros (e.g. .USING, .INCLUDE).
  5. ^ EGS Spectrum 28: True Color Graphics for the Amiga
  6. ^ How to upgrade your color graphics card. from Compute's Getting Started with Power Computing (Buyers Guide) by Steven Anzovin
  7. ^ "Re: What is the vanilla kernel?". 2005-10-10. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  8. ^ "Ubuntu Kernel vs. Vanilla Kernel". October 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  9. ^ Winborne, Charle`s (2003). End of Ignorance. iUniverse. p. 150. ISBN 9780595277438. Retrieved 2015-05-21.