This year, I attended the FOSDEM conference on the 3rd and 4th February in Brussels. The name stands for Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting. It is an yearly event organized by volunteers and supported via sponsorship, but aggressive marketing is not allowed. Here are few facts about this conference:
- after one OSDEM event in 2000, the first FOSDEM was in 2001
- located at the ULB campus in Brussels (Free University of Brussels)
- 678 talks at this year edition
- about 8000+ participants
- the participation is free of charge
I liked the atmosphere at this event. The people are very friendly and relaxed. There are different types of talks, like keynotes, tutorials, lightning talks, developers meetings, certification exams, etc. There are many parallel tracks in different rooms across the university. It is actually quite difficult to choose what to attend because of the many options. There are also few apps that the participants can use to manage the whole schedule. I used the FOSDEM Companion to mark the talks that I like and manage myself at the venue. It was smart that before the conference I took the time to go through the program and select the talks that interest me.
Because it is very crowded, the seats in the rooms are limited, especially when the topics are catchy. Once the seats are full, no more people are allowed to get inside. So, it is smart to make your own schedule strategically, and leave enough time (arrive at least 5-10 minutes earlier) to get to the room for your next talk in order to ensure your spot. From my experience, it is also better if you stay in the same room or building for few talks. Changing the rooms all the time is time consuming and higher probability that you will not get a spot. For lunch and refreshment breaks you should also consider that at most of the places at the campus you need to queue for at least 15 minutes.
Regarding the topics of the talks they are all related to free and/or open source software. It was very broad and everyone can find something interesting. They are also developer oriented, so more technically focused and not research centered. All talks are recorded, live streamed and online available.
In the two days, I attended 16 talks. My highlight were the few talks at the source code analysis track on the second day. Particularly Jules Villard, a developer at Facebook, gave a nice talk on Infer. From the other talks, a nice talk was given by Grzegorz Bizon, a developer at GitLab, on the topic of integration testing framework.
There were also some stands at the campus showing different projects. A popular part was the one with the IoT topics. Also, there was a job corner without aggressive recruiting.
All in all, it was an interesting event for meeting new people and listening what is new in the tech world.