FOSDEM 2015

31 January 2015

Yay! This is my second trip to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers European Meeting at the ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels. The annual conference is held on the first weekend in February and I’m very exited to share my impressions of Day 1.

I arrived at the campus around 9am, the campus wasn’t very crowded yet. I immediately went to the main infodesk in the K building to grab a FOSDEM leaflet, it contains useful information such as campus and building plans, IPv6 configuration for the (free and fast!) wireless network and the nearest bus and tram lines. Afterwards I bought a coffee at the bar underneath the Janson building and visited the “Welcome to FOSDEM” talk. The haal filled quickly and the talk started 5 minutes late. I also visited the talks “Identity Crisis: Are we who we say we are?” by Karen Sandler and “What is wrong with Operating Systems” by Antti Kantee.

After my lunch break I had a couple of minutes left before the next talk started, so I decided to check out the stands in the K building. It was very crowded and sometimes hard to see what the stand was about. But I was lucky enough to grab a nice Mozilla Firefox sticker for my notebook! Funnily enough, the next talk on my schedule actually was about Mozilla Firefox and how Mozilla manages to release a new major version of the browser every six weeks.

The talk ended around 1:45pm, so I had a lot of time before the next talk on my schedule started. Between the talks I liked to relax a few minutes in a hacker room, there was power and wifi to fuel my devices. I browsed a bit through my source code, but I wasn’t able to focus on it, due to the noise from outside. So I left, went to the AW building and visited several stands there, including the Coreboot stand. Coreboot is a really interessting project which I’m following for a few years now. It aims to be an open source replacement system for BIOS/UEFI and is currently running on a limited set of hardware, including Google’s Chromebooks. Unfortunately, none of my current hardware is supported by Coreboot. But there is hope! The guy I was talking to about Coreboot told me, that his colleague is currently working on a tool that can port Coreboot to a new machine automatically with lots of “magic”. The idea behind this is to grab all the informationen necessary from a machine running a BIOS and then use this information to build an image of Coreboot. He said, that the compiled image should, with a bit luck, then be able to boot the machine up. Otherwise you end up with a nice brick (yes, it’s possible to restore the BIOS/UEFI firmware over SPI). If you don’t know Coreboot yet, check it out!

I picked up some professionally designed and printed flyers from the Coreboot stand and rushed to the Python devroom in the H building, where the talk “Python, WebRTC and you” was starting. The room already was incredibly crowded and there was no place left to sit. For a second, I thought it probably would be better to watch the recording afterwards – Aaaaaand I was standing right at the end of the room, there were quite a lot of people behind me. It was nearly impossbible to get out again, so I stayed in the room and enjoyed the cool talk by Saúl Ibarra Corretgé. He developed a chat roulette like application in Python with WebRTC and explained the stack and functionality behind it.

Okay, now it was time to meet the challange and take my LPI 102 exam. The LPI is a non-profit organization that offers Linux certifications, highly regarded by the industry. I answered some quite challenging questions and can’t wait for the results to arrive in 3 to 4 weeks. If everything went well, I’ll be a certified Linux professional with the LPI Level 1 certificate (there are up to 3 levels). You never heard about LPI? Check it out here.

The last talk I visited was also about WebRTC, but, in contrast to the usual Audio- and Video applications, as the basis of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Peer5 is an open source HTTP peer-to-peer mesh network that can serve large files (like video and audio) from client/server-to-client instead of server-to-client, reducing the amount of bandwith needed for a content provider and keeping latencies low. The project is actually very interessting and easy to implement.

Of course, there were hundreds of other talks today at FOSDEM. The ones I described were the ones I visited, you can check the schedule for day 1 here and eventually download the recordings here.

I will now try to finish this blog post with this super slow wifi connecion in my hotel (5 to 15 KiB/sec, at least it’s free) and fiddle around with WebRTC and Peer5. See you tomorrow at FOSDEM!