Monday, 25 February 2008

Thoughts on FOSDEM

We've just spent the weekend in Brussels attending the FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting) conference. It was a slightly unnerving experience for me; the first time I'd been in an open source development environment other than TiddlyWiki, and made stranger yet by the fact I was probably the only non-developer out of 3,000+ attendees!

For a free event (well, run on donations), it was very well organised. The Université Libre de Bruxelles donated their facilities, and a veritable swarm of organisers gave up their time and energy to keep things moving. The event had a shoestring feel to it, with signs printed on cheap paper and held up with gaffer tape, but more than adequate for our needs - and in sharp contrast to the glossy presentation at Le Web...

And the good organisation was reflected in many of the projects on display. Popular open source organisations such as Mozilla, FreeBSD, SUSE, Gnome and KDE were all present and showing off their wares. The Mozilla track in particular was very interesting; they're just about to release version 3 of Firefox, and the level of organisation in the Mozilla community is impressive. Here's the overview slide.

I've kind of given up trying to discern between the different Linux distributions. Listening to the earnest and passionate developers argue their preferences helped me understand that the main differences are under the hood. I know I'm in a minority of one here.

We were obviously thinking about how TiddlyWiki could or should be represented at a future event. It certainly wouldn't look out of place if it had a stall (note: a TiddlyWiki stall rather than an Osmosoft stall, of course), and there were plenty of people there who had heard of the project. Maybe some developer sessions there next year then.

Brussels itself was very nice, by the way, and a world away from the drab, grey EU-focused town I was expecting. We gorged ourselves on waffles, Belgian beer, mussels, chocolates and other Belgian goodness. Nightlife was lively, and the main square was charming. I've uploaded a set of photos to Flickr.

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