FOSDEM 2024

Posted by Unterwegs mit Pascal on Monday, 2024-02-12
Posted in [Conference][Ferien][Postgresql-Community][Programmieren][Reisen][Scratch]

Every year, beginning of February, it’s time to go to Brussels. That’s where the biggest Open Source Event in Europe takes place. It’s called FOSDEM: Free and Open Source DEveloper Meeting.

Several thousand people gather at the ULB (Université libre de Bruxelles) to meet, attend talks, learn about other Open Source projects and in general have a good time.

I have no memories of it, but I attended my first FOSDEM when I was barely 2 months old. Good old times!

the letters BXL in front of the Marriott in Brussels
Static #BXL display in front of our hotel, next to me: PostgreSQL Slonik and Geocaching Signal

FOSDEM PGDay

The PostgreSQL Project organizes a separate conference on Friday before FOSDEM. It’s a one day, one track conference, all about PostgreSQL.

In previous years I sometimes helped with the conference. This year my participation was limited to carrying boxes from and to the underground parking.

I spent the rest of the day writing my internship report.

FOSDEM

As mentioned before, it’s the largest Open Source event in Europe. A couple months before the conference, the FOSDEM team sends out a “call for participations”. Open Source projects can request to have a table to present themselves, and can request to have a devroom for talks. Both the devroom and the table are then managed by the Open Source project. Also the number of tables of devrooms are limited by the space the ULB can provide. Which just means that there are way more requests than tables or rooms.

Stands for Open Source projects

The selected Open Source projects have a table in one of the four areas which are provided by FOSDEM. The stands/tables are grouped together, so one does not have to walk all over the campus to find the Debian stand after visiting the CentOS stand. Just to give you an example.

Here you can find everything from Linux distributions (CentOS, Debian, Fedora, AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux and NixOS) to database tools (PostgreSQL, Percona, MariaDB) to browsers (Firefox, Thunderbird) to popular libraries (curl) to GSoC (Google Summer of Code) to home automation (openHAB), to general automation (Ansible, Foreman) and many, many more.

I like walking around, see what’s new, talk to the people I already know and maybe also grab a sweet for me, or a pen for my mama.

two plush toys on a table
aren't they cute?

Every year my dad and I bring some of the merchandise for the PostgreSQL stand. That’s quite a trip from Berlin where we live to the ULB in Brussels. Every year our car looks like this:

our car before we left for FOSDEM, the car is fully loaded
That was our car on our way to brussels

our car before we left for FOSDEM, the car is fully loaded

Meanwhile, even the beer is making a walking tour ;-)

Linux Bier Wanderung is back in 2024

And of course, PostgreSQL Slonik was around as well, everyone likes to take pictures:

Slonik and I are standing in front of the PostgreSQL table in the K-building at FOSDEM
Slonik and I in front of the PostgreSQL table

Devrooms

A selected number of Open Source projects is assigned a devroom for one or two days (Saturday or Sunday). These rooms are very popular and it’s hard to get a seat in one of the rooms, to watch a talk. I tried to get into some of the talks, but didn’t always succeeded. Most of the devrooms are sometimes just overfilled, or aren’t big enough to handle the many people visiting the devroom. Unfortunately that’s a very common problem at FOSDEM.

This room was full. There is a sign in front at the door that says: Sorry, this room is full
This was the room with Microblocks talk when I arrived there

Luckily all the talks are recorded and I can watch them again - or for the first time - at home. This will also help me, because in some talks didn’t understand everything.

I did attend, or planned to attend, the following talks:

Talks

GDevelop

GDevelop is an easy game development application for kids and beginners, where you can design and build a game from Scratch. This is inspiring, as I still want to do some coding in my free time.

Website of the talk

Introducing Observability to an airline

As a company, especially as a big one like an airline, you need to have a great observability over your company. But to assure that you have a great observability, you need to convince a lot of people, to work with you on observability.

I’m an aviation fan, therefore this talk goes towards what interests me.

Website of the talk

Open Source in 2024 - boundaries, burnout, business

As an maintainer or contributor you must be aware about your peers, that they don’t run into burnouts and you need to set, respect and enforce boundaries.

This talk was about open source projects, but the general ideas can be applied everywhere, in work, in school, in daily life, in sports.

Website of the talk

Some updates on public code in Germany

In 2023 the German public administration made some huge steps forward to use FOSS and other Open Source applications. This talk presents a brief summary about the progress the public administration made.

Website of the talk

Building an Open Source Community One Friend at a time

Communities are rising because of small pieces that are holding the whole chain together and bring other pieces to the project, community or anything like that. Communities fall apart when the chains break. It’s important to know how communities work, how friendships are established. And like the “boundaries” talk, this can be applied in everyday’s life.

Website of the talk

Microblocks

As mentioned before I wanted to go into one more talk, but the rooms was already full when I arrived. Fortunately this talk was recorded, so I could watch the Microblocks talk later when I was back home.

Microblocks is a block-programming language that is inspired by Scratch. I already wrote blog postings about that and also gave a talk about it two times.

Microblocks, and by extension Scratch, is made for everyone who want’s to learn something about coding.

Website of the talk

HAM Radio

The Amateur Radio group had a booth in the AW building. They also had some serious equipment on the green in front of the building. A base station, an antenna to receive geostationary satellites, and a Starlink dish.

Receiver for geostationary satellites
Receiver for geostationary satellites

Starlink receiver
Starlink receiver

Dinner

Every night before and during FOSDEM and FOSDEM PGDay the people from PostgreSQL meet for dinner, to socialize and talk with each other. That’s a good opportunity to talk about what happened over the day, anything we learned, and what can be improved next year. Every evening it’s a different restaurant, sometimes more than one (if not all people fit into one place).

The Grand place in Brussels at night
The Grand Place at night

Me Time

In my free time, which was normally the hour between FOSDEM and dinner, I worked on some other blog postings and also wrote my internship report. I had my Internship earlier this week.

Protests

Farmers

When my dad and I arrived in Brussels on Thursday before FOSDEM, we came into an huge traffic jam which was caused by the Farmers who protested with their tractors.

A 500 metres long parade of tractors on the motorway near Brussels
The farmers are blocking the whole motorway near Brussels

The farmers are protesting against new regulations and the high rising inflation. The whole day, the farmers blocked the streets. In the evening, they blocked the motorway - lucky for us, the lane in the other direction.

Gaza sympathizers

On Friday night, after the PGDay, we went to an restaurant in another district of the city. On our way to the underground station, we passed by some protesters who where protesting for independence of Gaza.

Conclusion

FOSDEM is always cool to go. I learned a lot, I meet old and new friends. I have a whole weekend just speaking English - good for my language skills. And of course there’s the good food, ice cream, chocolate and don’t forget about the Hard Rock Cafe!

I’d like to go again next year.



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