FOSDEM 2012 – Europe’s FOSS Community Get-Together

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FOSDEM is unlike any other conference I attend. This year in Brussels, it was bitter cold and snowing outside.  But when nearly 5,000 dedicated free software developers get together, the resulting intellectual sparks can’t be extinguished even by copious amounts of excellent Belgian beer. Actually, the beer helps a lot!

It costs nothing to attend FOSDEM. Donations are accepted, of course, but anyone can attend gratis. ULB, the Free University of Brussels contributes the space – a well-worn labyrinth of classrooms and hallways that are as familiar to frequent attendees as a favorite pair of shoes. FOSDEM has some generous sponsors, but it is not affiliated with any company or non-profit organization. This non-affiliated characteristic helps to make the conference a must-attend event in the FOSS world.  It is put together by a polyglot band of free software hackers simply as an excuse for developers who might only know each other by their IRC handles to meet face-to-face.

At FOSDEM, both superstar developers on the biggest projects as well as unsung hero contributors collaborate to make FOSS actually happen. This conference is where developers establish the human relationships and build the depth of communication and collaboration they need to succeed, and which even the most committed communities cannot achieve solely through online interactions. Many of the larger projects have their own “devrooms” where non-stop, standing-room only presentations bring everyone together with a common understanding. There are tracks and devrooms covering a wide range of topics; this year there were over 400 presentations, usually with more than 10 talks going on simultaneously across the event.

You come to FOSDEM because you care. Because FOSS is in your blood. Because you think there is nothing more fun than debating the merits of alternative VM architectures, or discussing the intersection of digital freedom, hacking and open source over beers until the exasperated barkeep finally kicks you out close to dawn. Some big ideas emerge from those dingy taverns!

FOSDEM embodies the heart of free and open source software. When developers mix at such a dynamic event, the FOSS world creates some amazing stuff.


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2 Responses to “FOSDEM 2012 – Europe’s FOSS Community Get-Together”

  1. Actually we are sponsored. But!
    A sponsor only receives a logo on the site and a mention in the opening and closing talk. We have no free favors for sponsors (like speaker slots, booth stands etc.) They have to apply like everyone else and get treated like any other booth/speaker/devroom.

    Also thanks for the kind words!


    February 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm Reply
  2. Thanks Jochen for the comment – I’ve updated the post. And thanks for organizing such an incredible event!

    February 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm Reply

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