Hacker News new | more | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet (fosdem.org)
132 points by doener 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

I’m there right now and it’s a wonderful event. Other conventions are commercial, in your face events but Fosdem is a welcoming, open event. Over 600 talks and some 8000+ people present.

I think, though the cost is there, PyCon is amazingly accepting and welcoming. Yes, it isn't cheap, and cost is higher than FOSDEM, but it's one of the best conferences I've been to.

I'd say CCC is pretty similarly wonderful, although FOSDEM wins when it comes to price :)

For me the atmosphere at CCC was much nicer. CCC: Bunch of crazy hackers and makers FOSDEM: Your average software nerds

There are many more good technical talks at FOSDEM, though. The Congress is really nice - so nice that it attracts many people who just want to participate in a cool event.

What do you mean by "commercial, in your face"?

I mostly attend open source/tech conferences in the Americas. I think I know what you mean, but that's not the main difference I see between FOSDEM and those conferences.

There's still "commercial" at FOSDEM (plenty of sales pitches in sessions, to begin with) but I think what's strikingly different is that FOSDEM has no "agenda", that is, the event isn't crafted around a theme and said theme doesn't dictate the rest of the content and the discussion.

The only issue I had that it was to get into a room, especially an interesting one, except if you came ten minutes early or so.

While the conference is actually close to wrapping up, there was a great setup for live streaming this year. You may still be able to catch the last few hrs of talks via the live stream: https://fosdem.org/2019/schedule/streaming/

I just read there was Netflix presenting about their use of FreeBSD. And likely many more interesting things to come.


I'm at Fosdem, it's HUGE. I'm watching Scott Hanselman getting ready for his talk at 1500CET

I presented at FOSDEM in the geospatial room: https://fosdem.org/2019/schedule/event/geo_osmwikidata/

Video should be available soon.

It's great, but it has to be said there were too many rooms with "Full" signs and queues outside. To misquote Jaws, I think we're gonna need a bigger venue.

Edit: In retrospect this kind of sounds bad. ULB donates this huge campus for free which is a wonderful thing. Perhaps there is a better way to allocate speakers to rooms so that speakers with expected larger audiences are assigned to the largest rooms. An application for AI maybe?

Just poll which talks the audience wants to see beforehand. Works fine for the Chaos Communication Congress. The one room per track concept of FOSDEM doesn't provide much of a practical benefit AFAICT.

I think it's worth keeping in mind that the devrooms are run very autonomously by the corresponding communities. I actually spend full days in a single devroom, and get the most out of FOSDEM that way. But I can also see how it's different for many people.

For KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, we use sched.com for scheduling and ask people to select their talks ahead of time. Then, we can move talks between rooms based on interest. Of course, this assumes that the people who select their interest ahead of time are somewhat representative of all attendees.

My notes from Quantum Computing and Open Hardware tracks are here, if somebody is interested: https://j-marjanovic.io/notes-from-fosdem-2019.html

I was at FOSDEM last year and really enjoyed. I was helping out at a booth, which was fun.

Just curious: how do you meet at such events? If it were not for the booth, I'm not sure I would have talked with many people.

You need to have some interests in common with some people, otherwise it's very difficult.

To be fair though, this isn't very different from any other large conference I've attended so far. Some commercial venues may have a useful conference dinner or other socializing events, especially if they're smaller. FOSDEM does have the beer event on Friday, but I've always attended that with people I already knew (at least from online collaboration), so I have no idea how it compares if you're on your own.

If you attended FOSDEM 2019 and live anywhere in the Americas, I would love to get in touch to see if we can organize an Americas FOSDEM Debrief with a handful of people in the room plus live streaming. It'd be great to have summaries per track. It'd be fantastic to have speakers join us, but I'm mostly interested in attendees. I'm same username on Twitter, too.

I stopped attending FOSDEM some years ago, as I felt it had gotten too big. Too many people, not enough seats, not enough toilets. Has that changed?


3 years ago I also decided not to come again, yet I did it this time; was a mistake.

It is overcrowded, because it's free. Queues in front of the crappy foodtrucks, coffee stands, rooms, everything, are there, because it is overcrowded. The feeling of dirtiness comes from the unpleasant buildings with tiny corridors, quickly applied concealing cardboards, ducktaped signs, underplanned amount and positioning of trash cans and the lack of enough cleaning staff.

We could explain for hours what other problems are stemming from the fact it is a free conference. However...

The organizers' unprofessionalism regarding crowd control, speaker introduction, moderation, maintaining the "OPEN/FULL" sign does not depend on money. I would think it's common sense, but apparently the moderators do not really care if in every 30 seconds there is someone sneaking in the room through a squeaking door. Every. Freaking. 30. Seconds.

Talks were great. All of those I managed to fit in the room, were fun, enjoyable, with a knowledgeable presenter. I felt extra bad for them trying to answer questions at the end of the sessions when people started to switch rooms because of tight schedules on scattered rooms.

Now I have an accountability buddy who would prevent me going to FOSDEM ever again, unless they introduce a fee of 50 bucks or something.

"...Every. Freaking. 30. Seconds." Absolutely frickin true. I was at a 09.10AM session at building [UB 5.*] where the doors are right beside where the speaker stands. One person per 30S was hopping in, till the end of the talk.

In the "Observability Track" the Fosdem staff member was totally pissed that no single person listened to his repeated continued pleas to stay back till the Q&A finishes and the talk concludes.

Everyone attending Fosdem must have some level of courtesy towards those who speak and those who are attending.

Pulling of a free, volunteer-ran conference for many thousand attendees year after year is incredibly impressive. I thanks all the volunteers making FOSDEM happen for their hard work.

F in FOSDEM stands for free. In my eyes, one of FOSDEM's goals is to legitimize FLOSS software for any software use-case.

Also in my eyes, lack of professionalism (or the intent of improve) undermines legitimization efforts.

Thus, with all the respect to those who really care about the volunteering, I don't think it's a legit excuse to repeat "but it's free!"

And don't forget, after all for us: It's not free. I, and many of the attendees paid heavy €s to fly there, book accommodation, eat out, etc. I don't mind to invest into going to conferences, networking, meetups, like OpenStack summit, kubecon/dockercon, Google cloud summit, react confs etc. However...

FOSDEM in it's current format is best consumed from your couch at home, following the live online streams. And one of the reasons for this apparently is that FOSDEM is unfortunately "free".

In my eyes FOSDEM proves that the community-driven FLOSS model also works for producing a conference (including the talks that we can enjoy from our couches), not 'just' for producing software.

I think we are mostly beyond the need for legitimization of FLOSS these days. But as you mention there is no shortage of professional events.

It was my first time at FOSDEM. I listened to podcasts/read blog posts from people that have been attending the last 15 editions so I kind of knew what to expect. I brought snacks both days, and didn't bother bringing a laptop. I picked odd hours for commuting, and tried to commit to a track/room for a bit (it took me days to figure out my schedule)

That means I probably missed some of the FOSDEM experience but I also didn't experience much crazy (except for the wintry mix that made moving around so hard on Saturday)

You are right that the volunteer experience is inconsistent and I have no data to compare to other years. At times, in some rooms, it felt like the attendees were self-policing (shooshing others, controlling people standing up, etc.) when the volunteers were not. I've also been to events in other places (Open Source Summit Japan comes to mind) where there were volunteers but the experience was much more streamlined. It might be cultural, who knows.

What I heard (and therefore wasn't expecting) is that nothing new gets announced at FOSDEM anymore. However there are still tens of thousands of people in the industry that might hear the news on Twitter/HN/elsewhere and still want to go ask questions/have a debate.

I agree that the talks at FOSDEM are great but I also stopped going for the same reason. Some smaller, less-crowded annual events that are I often attend instead are:

FROSCON in Bonn, Chemnitz Linuxtage, Maker Faires

Climate change is spiraling out of control but let's all board planes to go meet other developers anyways.


http://n-gate.com/ also covers FOSDEM.

You're violating the prime directive

Well, I thought it was funny. A bit of (self-)sarcasm is not bad from time to time.

Prime detectives were made to be broken, per Picard.

This text made me angry. Don't like bunch of smart people volunteering their knowledge and experience with others? Feel free to ignore them, don't shit on them to feel better.

> Some rando is excited because

This is where I stopped reading. Digital toxic waste.

The post is tongue-in-cheek, but agreed that it does come across rude if you don't read it as such.

I found that funny (and sadly, the talk annotations seem to be true in some cases).

From the post on kaboom:

> The fact that the article contains actual code is like kryptonite to Hackernews; the vote-to-comment ratio is well in excess of ten to one.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact