Philipp Trommler's Blog

FOSDEM 2024: A Review

Last weekend I was in Brussels to attend FOSDEM. As always, it was a real pleasure to be there and I don't even regret that I had to drive for eight hours more than I was actually at the fair.

Published (modified ) by Philipp Trommler. This article has also been translated to: da, de.

The strange thing is, that I cannot really say what drives me there year after year. I rarely see, learn or hear anything groundbreakingly new at FOSDEM as I tend to be quite up to date in the Free Software world1. And I could also just watch those live streams or the recordings afterwards2.

I think I'm nowadays driven more by the urge to just be there. Seeing the others, the feeling that you're not the only one caring for that stuff, publicly representing the community, giving faces to all those names, "smelling the gnu".

That doesn't mean the talks weren't good though. I spent my Saturday afternoon in the "Debuggers and analysis tools devroom" and the Sunday morning in the "Open Hardware and CAD/CAM devroom". Both were very well3 organised and had some amazing talks. Though one concerning observation I made in both of those rooms was that the people interested in that kind of stuff just seem to get older alongside me and that there weren't too many young folks attending.

Maybe that impression is false but if not we should try to make the foundations more interesting again, because no matter how serverless your cloud workflow might be, someone has to work on the low-level stuff to get it running. And that touches the second thing I was thinking more about in the last couple of days: I'm not that interested in those bare "Open Source this", "Open Source that" talks anymore. For me personally, Free Software just works nowadays, there are no fundamental technical issues anymore. The topics I consider way more important now are Open (and Free!) Hardware and (hold your breath) communities and politics. Maybe the most important talks and devrooms this year were about the EU's CRA and PLD.

Back to the "normal" talks, a special mention goes out to Joey Castillo who in my opinion held this year's best talk, "Comprehensible Open Hardware: Building the Open Book". Again, nothing new for me there, but it was just very well made and encouraging.

Other than that, I mostly just roamed from talk to talk, and was lucky enough to get a seat in "So you think you know Git" by Scott Chacon4. During his talk, the whole "La Fontaine" was packed to the last seat and people were thrown out. So no, the overcrowding wasn't any better than before.

As every year, I was also shocked5 by the condition of the ULB buildings, especially buildings U and AW. Holes in the walls, toilets with now lights (nor windows!), dirt and grime everywhere. It amazes me how much is spent on those many, many buildings of the various EU organs and how little is left for a teaching institution6. But you could argue that that might be on purpose.

So, what does all of that leave me with? Well, first of all with a huge backlog of interesting talks. Second, with an anticipation for next year's FOSDEM, its 25th anniversary! And last but not least, with the feeling that — at least in software and hardware — not everything is crap and that there actually are people who do care.

  1. at least in the parts I'm interested in
  2. I mean, let's face it, you have to do that either way for 80% of the talks that interest you because it's just impossible to see everything in person
  3. you could even say professionally
  4. He also generously invited the whole FOSDEM to an after show party in the Waff to promote his new Git client
  5. again, I guess?!
  6. or a nicer city in general

Filed under Community. Tags: fosdem.

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