Finally I reach a point, where my schedule relaxes. So I want to spend the time for a recap of how I experienced this year’s FOSDEM (3rd and 4th February).

It was my second time at FOSDEM and I’ve learnt from last year, that a bit more preparation is very well worth it. So I took vacation from Friday to Monday to arrive one day before and leave the day after the event. In hindsight, it was a good idea. Because of that plan I volunteered on heralding and signage. Not too heavy work, but important nontheless.

Deutsche Bahn managed it to produce a delay of 15 minutes on a trip of one hour, which made me miss my train to Bruxelles, so I had to made a detour over Cologne. Only two hours delayed. Oh, the train stopped in the mid of the railways while going to Cologne …

I looked for a hostel in Bruxelles this time, since I’ve learned, that it is too stressful to stay over night in Aachen - the nearest place in Germany to the border. Sadly, most hostels ask for a credit card which I refuse to get. Happy me the hostels I asked by email for paying in cash where mostly open to this option.

I picked the Sleep Well hostel, because they had the kindest offer:

Sleep Well hostel

After checkin I looked for learning how to get to the campus where FOSDEM would happen and help ramping up the signage. Turns out they were already done with most of it, but had to make a final round, so I could get to know one of the organisers responsible for managing the volunteers.

After going back to my hostel I wanted to get something to eat before going to bed. Turned out the stores there close quite early (around 8 p.m. if I remember correctly). Even a McDonald’s closed that early! In Germany it is one of the food stores where you can get something almost ‘round the clock! Lucky me I bought something from a bakery on my trip …

Another thing I’ve learned that the tickets in a tram are more expensive then from an automat. The tickets of the latter are valid for 24h, so it makes sense to buy them in advance. Oh, and they accept only coins…

Next day, I tried to get quite early to FOSDEM, so I could attend the opening keynote. The booking of the hostel included a breakfast, so I took mine there. Too my surprise it was quite … French. I still have no idea how people there can survive the day without black tea oO

One of the first things I did after I arrived was buying a hoodie and a book from the O’Reilly’s booth (Eric Meyer’s CSS The Definitive Guide, 4th edition). Turned out, that they sold t-shirts quite fast as can be seen from this dashboard:

T-Shirt dashboard

Because I opted to be a volunteered I didn’t attended many tasks. There were some interesting ones like one of subtitling HTML videos or various topics from the Mozilla Dev Room regarding both, Firefox as well as campaigns for DeepSpeech and Policy Advocacy.

As usual the queues for the food trucks went laaarge, so I had a late lunch. The next day, the organisers took action and distributed vouchers for the volunteers with which they could skip the queues and get their lunch for free, if it would block their volunteering activites. It was a life saver!

I spent the evenings working on the remake of my distro’s website, because I could focus on it best without any distraction (my flat mates were youth, who went out with a bottle of vodka …) The time in between I chatted with the team and learned, that we had some people from Gentoo there which were known on both projects, Sabayon and Gentoo.

On Sunday I had spare time, so I took a walk to go a bit sight seeing. It was interesting. For example, I wasn’t aware that McLaren not only build engines but also sell cars:

McLaren car retail shop

If only my employer would build such jewels …

OpenStreetMap led me the shortest way. I was quite surprised, when I entered this park:

Ecole nationale superieure des arts visuels de La Cambre

On time for the first talked I arrived at the campus :-) I took the time to not only collect swags, but also to have a chat with Matthew from Matrix.org and relay some questions of the community, but also hang around on the Gentoo booth to get to know guys and gals. We decided to organise a common booth with Sabayon present at FOSDEM in 2019. Let’s see :-)

Later on I had my 30 seconds of fame when I could herald the talk of Franz Karlitschek on why he forked his own company :-)

I therefore missed another talk where I signed up for heralding but which got cancelled. Therefore I met with people from Puri.sm, Fairphone, Plasma Mobile and represented Firefox OS. The topic of the birds of feather was how to prevent Puri.sm to make the same mistakes as the other mobile OS projects before. I only learned about the event from friends of the Sailfish OS community, who shared a blog article which was written on the same day. In my opinion, the attendees didn’t really listened to the experience the Firefox OS community made, but I signed up to stay in touch with the people there. Let’s see how it progresses.

FOSDEM 2018 was my chance to finally learn somebody in person who I met online months ago: Elio Qoshi. He leads several interesting design projects around TOR and Mozilla, which made me curious. I think, I can contribute to some of his company’s projects on GitHub like Identihub by Ura.

Sunday evening was teardown time. We volunteers had to “secure” the exits, because the room was so full! You can watch the closing keynote online.

Afterwards we walked around, cleaned up the rooms and tore down the chairs, tables and so on. At about 8 p.m. food arrived. I was a bit disappointed that there was no pizza, but oh well.

I met another German who booked a bus home which departed at 2a.m., so we spent some time at the hostels, because the public locations closed so early. Was interesting to learn, what other people in the community work on :-)

The way home on Monday was surprisingly unsurprising. No incidents with Deutsche Bahn other than moving to another platform in Bruxelles due to construction.

To sum up: See you next year at FOSDEM :-)