I haven't been blogging for some time now (almost 5 months, wow) but I cannot resist making a report of what has been a fantastic week-end. I was in Brussels, Belgium, for three days, mostly attending the FOSDEM conferences and enjoying the rich and subtile flavours of belgian beers.
This was my first time in a free software summit, and I must say I am not disappointed! There was a huge number of beards per square meter and one could feel geekiness in the air. All these developers, ranging from the free software guru to the anonymous hacker (and I am one of them), these thrilling conferences, the no less thrilling conversations with other hackers, great ideas emerging from technical discussions, all of this was just great.
The week-end really started on Friday night, when I arrived at the youth hostel in the city centre where I met Guijemont. From there we headed towards the Roy d'Espagne, a famous pub on the Grand' Place, where the pre-FOSDEM Friday beer event is held before every edition, in a huge room full of hackers from all over Europe (and even further). Waitresses carrying big trays full of belgian beers were trying to keep up with our drinking pace, it must have been a trying night for them!
The serious stuff started on Saturday morning, in Université Libre de Bruxelles, with the first conference, Software patents in Europe by Pieter Hintjens. Then Jim Gettys gave an impressive presentation of the OLPC project, which is amazing. Knowing that making free software allows us, in a way, to make the world better is a great feeling.
After a lunch break, a round of all the stands (Mozilla, Debian, Gentoo, FSFE, Ubuntu, Google, FreeBSD, and many others) and bringing my modest donation to FOSDEM (I got a nice t-shirt!), back to the lecture and developers rooms with lots of interesting stuff: X.Org by Keith Packard (or how to explain the correlation between hacking on X and heavy drinking), What's new in GStreamer by Edward Hervey (whom I had met at a party in Barcelona), Linux Kernel by Andrew Morton, Django by Pim Van Heuven (or how to make web development sexy), and finally Gnome apps with Scheme by Andy Wingo (also seen in Barcelona). In the afternoon, Kaleo joined us, freshly arrived from Barcelona, and Toto also came from Lille. That was the Hull Dream Team reloaded!
It had been a rich day, and the best way to conclude it was in a pub around a few pints, after a well deserved dinner in a restaurant.
After a short night, the show went on with, again, lots of conferences. In the morning, I attended Security testing by Pete Herzog, Metasploit Framework by its main developer, H. D. Moore (very impressive features for security probing), and Elisa by Philippe Normand (Kaleo's project leader, also met in Barcelona). After a short lunch break, Kaleo has to leave to catch his flight back to Spain.
We then attended OpenOffice.org - OpenXML by Michael Meeks and the end of Miguel de Icaza's presentation of Mono, during which an asshole made pointless remarks in a terribly bad english, confusing Linux, open source, proprietary software, profit making... The living proof that, yes, in the free software world too, we have our lot of jerks (although this one was an award winning one, and I tend to think the proportion of such persons in such an event is very low, he was probably the only one). We stayed in the same lecture room for the presentation of GDB tracepoints and their use in kernel debugging, by Jim Blandy, and then Federico Mena Quintero's Profiling Desktop Applications. This guy is a real showman and he knows his topic, now I really want to hack on Gnome (if only days were more than only 24 hours...) !
If you ever doubted it, here is the truth: APIs are like big green monster hidden in flower pots.
We finished with a presentation entitled Linux in embedded security devices by Jan Veldeman, a bit disappointing on the contents, but no regret as there were no other conferences at that time.
And that was it, in a flashlight FOSDEM 2007 was already over, my head was full of great stuff, ideas, projects, a little bit disorientated by the lack of sleep, we headed towards the bus stop under the rain.
Bye bye Brussels, see you next year! And thank you so much to the volunteers who organised all this so well and made it possible, you guys did a wonderful job!