FOSDEM 2017 - Another great experience

Published on February 06, 2017 21:09, written by Martina Šimičić

Keywords: programming, developers, software, development, knowledge, interesting

Yet another year at FOSDEM that does not dissapoint. An amazing diverse group of people, with great speakers and even better talks. Inspiring and motivating!

FOSDEM, Brussels, Belgium

It has been 4 years. 4 years working in the Netherlands, 4 years since I first time heard about FOSDEM and 4 years that I had a chance to be there among that amazing crowd. If there are still people that never heard about FOSEDM - keep on reading!

FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year it gathers thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world at the event in Brussels. This makes it also the biggest conference of that type in Europe. The event is held at the "Vrije Universiteit Brussel" and every few years it seems like it needs few more additional rooms to accommodate communities that are gathering around specific technology or field in software engineering.

Some examples of the rooms are, for programming languages: Ruby, PHP and Friends, Go, Perl, Python; or technologies: Linux Containers and Microservices, Microkernels and Component-based OS, Monitoring and Cloud and many many more.

In two days people that work on the open source projects or are involved in the community around it come and share their knowledge and experiences. And talking about people we can start with the simple 4 reasons why you should join me next year at the FOSDEM 2018!


When I say people, I mean both participants and speakers. It is just an amazing crowd! My "female detection monitor" always unconsciously count how many other women are there in the room or around; but on FOSEDM - it does not turn on. The crowd is quite diverse, majority is still men but there were plenty of women, people of colour and all sorts of other personal preferences. However, no people in suits, wondering why not? ...

Speakers are usually people that work on the open source projects themselves and I am always wondering where they find the time for it! Ok, some are paid but that is quite rare, more is just their curiosity and inner drive, sometimes supported by the companies they work at and sometimes just an investment of their personal time. Sometimes working on very useful projects and sometimes simply hacking for fun! (Bare metal programming on Raspberry PI, Retro desktops for retro computers, etc.)

Open source projects

Many, many, many open source projects! It is very interesting to hear the stories about the software that you use or might have heard of from the people that directly contributed to it. People that gave their personal time and effort into it so you can run it for free (mostly, but not always) and learn from it by checking its source code.

More, bigger open source projects such as: FreeBSD, Python, Perl, Debian, Fedora, Jenkins have their stands, groups of people from the community stands there to respond to all the questions you might have!

Beer, even for non beer lowers!

I am not a beer lover, but Belgian beer is something that everyone can appreciate (or to be precise with words: a lot of people). Seeing many bars in the city full of nerds is something special. As for the taste of the beer - be careful what you choose - non beer lovers might appreciate a Kwak, for example. And avoid that sour vinegar they are trying to sell as a beer, usually comes with cherries so it fight the sourness a bit!

Passion and motivation

But the biggest reason that brings me back to FOSDEM every year is the motivation I get out of it! I immediately want to do something, contribute more, work in the community and help others! It is all about sharing and learning, more and more!

That passion and that drive cannot be seen elsewhere. I think for the person on the outside, that never understood the value of the work the people in open source do, FOSDEM might seem like a huge anarchy party where people are doing all of that for nothing and they allow others to copy code from them. But the reasons and motivation come as a result of curiosity and will to learn new things, do more and understand the magical world of software engineering and system administration a bit better! And only together we can do great things and make big changes.

But nothing is perfect, not even FOSDEM. The only issue is that sometimes the rooms are so small they cannot accommodate all the people interested in one topic - sometimes, you just cannot get in, you miss a talk that you really want to see because there were too many others that wanted the same. Lucky you, there is live streaming for the talks and post recordings: Enjoy!

Stay curious and keep on learning! FOSDEM, see you next year!