FOSDEM 2010, The report.

Alright, back in my beloved Tunisia, after an exceptional weekend in Brussels, attending FOSDEM 2010 with my friend Nihed M’BAREK, fellow Tunisian Fedora Ambassador. We had a Fedora Activity Day (FAD) meeting on Friday the 5/2 evening, where we discussed the current status of Fedora, blocking issues, aspects and features to fix, enhance and embellish in Fedora. Personally, it was the first time that I had the chance to physically attend such an activity where I had the opportunity to clearly see that behind Fedora (the distribution) stands a whole team of dedicated, organized, highly talented and motivated Fedora (the project) leaders.

FOSDEM kicked off, on Saturday 6/2 the morning after an introduction given by the event organizers where they presented the evolution of FOSDEM throughout the years. At the end of the presentation, the speaker invited the audience to get down on stage and perform the traditional FOSDEM dance depicting a man in a hurry, standing on one foot. After that, the organizers left the stage for a keynote given by Brooks Davis where he talked about his experience getting open source tools, methodologies and products used and deployed in a large company. I headed back to the Fedora booth after that talk to talk to people. Dev. rooms and (an incredible number of) technical talks started at 13 o’clock. These were organized by theme (main tracks) and delivered in dedicated rooms, spread all over the ULB facilities. Themes include security, monitoring, JOBSS, PostgreSQL, OpenOffice, FreeJava, KDE, GNOME, coreboot, XMPP, Mozilla and Embedded Software. These were all perfomed in parallel, given the staggering amount of information. I attended the embedded development main track at Lemeere, where subjects such as build systems, cross compilation, Android’s OpenIntents were discussed by experts from the industry.

The next day was dedicated to themes such as alternative operating systems, MySQL, X.org, Mono and Distributions. I managed to attend the MonoEdge presentation where the amazing Miguel de Icaza, gave an overview on the status of Mono, the C#/runtime Open Source implementation, the status of Moonlight (the Open Source equivalent of Microsoft’s Silverlight), the latest advances in Mono’s runtime, where Mono stands vs. Microsoft’s .NET platform in terms of API coverage. Then I moved to Jansen amphitheater, to attend the Minix conference presented by Andrew Tanenbaum himself. He presented the current status of the historical, micro-kernel based, operating system and what’s planned to be done in the future (shared memory IPC and the clone system call?). He also asked people to help porting major applications such as Firefox to Minix. The presentation was really moving, accompanied by cheers and recognition from all the audience. At the end of the presentation, people rushed to the stage to ask him more specific questions and get pictures with the guy. I took the chance to get closer to him (less than 50cm!!!) and get him to sign me a Minix release 3.1.6 CD-ROM.

In the evening, I went to the X.org dev. room where talks about the status of X.org, the graphics stack and the GPU in user-space (mainly the R600 radeonhd ATi driver) were given. The room was overcrowded and I had to stand up during most of talks. Sitting fairly close to me was Leenart Poettering, the creator of PulseAudio, the audio server used nowadays by the major distributions. Finally, I went to Greg Kroah-Hartman’s (the Linux kernel’s USB stack maintainer, among other roles), closing talk about “how to create your first patch for the Linux kernel”. I already knew about the whole thing and I just wanted to see the man in action delivering his speech and man I wasn’t disappointed. Greg had the same energetic attitude, gave anecdotes, made concepts so easy, all in all the talk was a total blast and I was there seeing the real thing happening instead of watching recorded sessions over the Internet. To me, the second day of FOSDEM was a definitive highlight.

So there you have it. From what I’ve seen, most of the talks were recorded and I bet the staff will make them available for download or streaming over the net. I really recommend attending FOSDEM, it’s a really significant event that let people get in touch to talk (about the very cool stuff we really care about), to provide updates, to explain the latest tech. and it’s inherently successful given the diversity of the people attending (meant for the entire Europe) and the subjects covered.

FOSDEM 2011 anyone?

-Ilyes Gouta

FOSDEM 2010 videos are available here: http://video.fosdem.org/