FOSDEM 2017 from a visitor's eyes

FOSDEM 2017 J Room
One of the lecture rooms in FOSDEM 2017

Short version:

Some of my colleagues and I went to FOSDEM 2017 this month, a two-day event for free and open source software in Brussels and it was a great experience.

Long version:

First time I saw someone mentioning FOSDEM in our team chat, I had no idea what it was. Wikipedia was helpful:

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting) is a non-commercial, volunteer-organized European event centered on free and open-source software development.

Some quick facts about FOSDEM

  • FOSDEM was started in 2001 by Raphael Bauduin
  • After that it has happened every year, usually during the first weekend of Febreuary
  • Bauduin has said that since he felt he lacked the brains to properly contribute to the open-source community, he wanted to contribute by launching an event
  • FOSDEM 2017 had about 8,000 visitors and 645 lectures
  • All talks are recorded and available at video.fosdom.org (link)
  • Visiting FOSDEM is free of charge, no ticket or registration needed

I love free software and I joined Futurice to be more involved with open source at the first place.I definitely wanted to go. So I started asking colleagues if I could go using our learning budget. They were all like: sure, just buy the tickets with your company credit card and go!.

I just did that and flew from Helsinki to Brussels.

Saturday: day one

I woke up early and headed to the event venue, which is a university campus. The bus from the city center to that direction was filled with techies carrying laptop bags and talking about software.

At the campus, I grabbed some French fries, which Belgians call just fries as they believe they invented it and went toward the Lua programming language developer room.

The room was almost full, and I listened to three talks about prototyping, IOT, and testing in Lua. I especially liked the IOT talk. It was presented by Etiene Dalcol. She told her story of getting into IOT by making a dress for her graduation party, a dress with LEDs all over it, which she could control by her smart watch according to the music.

The IOT dress with LEDs
The IOT dress with blinking LEDs.

After the Lua talks, I met my colleagues coming to FOSDEM from our London and Helsinki offices.

Afterward, I went to Mozilla developer room. Where I listened to talks about virtual reality and making games in the browser. Mozilla foundation, where Firefox browser is built, plays an important role in pushing forward the web. And almost everything they do is published under an open source license, that’s why they had a large auditorium and it was packed all day.

After the Mozilla dev-room I just hanged around in the campus, grabbing stickers and goodies from tables representing different open source projects and foundations. I’m a sticker junkie as you can see from the back of my laptop lid:

laptop lid full of stickers
Seven of these stickers came from FOSDEM

Sunday: day two

I started by hanging around in the lobby, grabbing more stickers and talking to people. I stopped by BBC’s table and I was surprised to see the broadcasting company does some  nice open source activities.

I also got to know more about the Software Freedom Conservancy and nice programs they organize or support. For example the Outreachy program, a scholarship for minorities in tech. I also bought a backpack from LibreOffice project.

Then we left for lunch with other Futurice employees. After lunch, I listened to a couple of more talks. My favorite one on Sunday was about IndieHosters (link). A private cloud service similar to Dropbox, but with a focus on open source and privacy while keeping it as simple as Dropbox.

Summary:

Visiting FOSDEM 2017 was a great experience for me. I highly reccommend it to anyone interested in free and open source software.

Credits:

Cover picture is from wikipedia (link)