FOSDEM 2023, it’s back IRL!

After two years online, the FOSDEM is back in the ULB in Bruxelles. The biggest European meeting for developers of free and open source softwares reunited thousands of developers and other tech enthusiasts. Coming from all Europe and beyond, they gathered for two days, to watch for free some of 781 talks dispatched into 63 tracks.

Section intitulée the-eventThe event

Before I even arrived there, I heard guys on the Thalys talking about how there’s no way they would ever try to attack the free FOSDEM WiFi network, and it’s great to see that we can be that trustful into something that is free and maintained by volunteers. In fact, it looks like people would put even more trust in that network than in any other regular network.

So of course it was quite crowded, just as I remember, and it’s not easy, but worth it to navigate in the corridors where all the stands are, to exchange with people and of course, get goodies (yay more stickers!). These stands are held either by sponsors, tech actors, or organizations.

Grab all the stickers

Since the event is quite system oriented, you might encounter people wearing actual fedoras, and some even have that hat… red. Others are casually wearing a traffic cone on their head, that’s okay.

The crowd is still 95% white straight male, but we can sense a will of inclusion, especially towards women and the LGBTQ+ community.

When entering the old “Faculté de droit” (faculty of law) building of the campus, you don’t expect to actually see the corridors being full of electronics, circuits and blinking light, surrounded by computers displaying the electronic and programmatic diagrams that go with it. And you might be wondering “What is this guy doing with these car radios anyway?”

Electronics with Legos

However, in my opinion, there is a small downside having that many tracks and attendees : some rooms were so popular, you had to wait in front of the room in order to be able to attend the next talk, and doing so, you would miss the previous talk.

Section intitulée the-talksThe talks

Most of the tracks, or developer rooms, are dedicated to specific programming languages and frameworks, but this year, none was about PHP. 😢 However, I’m happy to see a PostgreSQL track!

I discovered a bit of Go and had quite the reminder about the concurrent programming during the talk Debugging concurrency programs with Go.

Another talk that caught my eye was the distributed music programming with Gleam demo. Now I really want to try those. 👀

And my new superhero is definitely Kris Nóva, who presented us quite the feedback about how she went from a Mastodon server in her basement with 700 people on it to 30.000 in less than a month ! She started her talk saying “Hi guys please DDos my server during this talk”. Worth watching !

Many tracks were dedicated to legals, community, public code & digital public goods, education… as these themes are really important in the OSS world. You could find talks about new European regulations, on how to build a sustainable OSS based business or on how to add your Free Culture to your CV.

I’m also always impressed by the amount of people presenting tools of their own design, like the one linking OpenStreetMaps and Wikidata.

Note that all the conferences were recorded, and the video is already available on each of the provided links ! 👏👏

Section intitulée to-concludeTo conclude

That is something I really like about Fosdem: the wide variety of different themes, talks and speakers. It allows you to get out of your comfort zone by seeing completely different types of projects and problems from what you are used to. You could spend two days watching talks about stuff completely unrelated to your day to day work. Other languages (software, system etc), other paradigms (functional), so many tools that are new to me (SQLAlchemy? PostGIS? Gleam?) It’s quite inspiring.

Most of it is about how speakers educate the public, how attendees can educate their colleagues and so on, show people that OSS actually works, and it has for 25 years. It is sustainable, technically as well as financially as soon as people share a common goal. May it keep going for many years to come!

As they say, “OSS is the antidote to techno nationalism” ✊

Cet article porte sur la conférence FOSDEM 2023.


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