A little late, but here’s my report from attending FOSDEM 2015 back at the start of February.
I’ve been to FOSDEM a few times in the past, but not for the last few years. It happened to co-incide with other events, or other family things took priority and then got out of the habit, so I’d not ended up going for 6 years or so!
This year at the last minute I applied for some funds to go, was accepted and made the most of it. I’ve listed below all the talks & sessions I went to, with some brain dump notes I took about some of them. At the bottom I listed some sessions which I didn’t enjoy or get a lot out of, but are listed for completion. I’ve also linked directly to the videos of the talks if they’re available at the time of writing. If not I’ve linked to the directory they should appear in at some point in the future.
A GPS watch made of free software and hardware – Federico Vaga, Matthieu Cattin
- Interesting talk outlining the methods the team used to develop a fully free software and hardware smart watch.
- Goal was to allow hackers to make their own from off the shelf parts rather than an assembled unit.
- Learned a lot about tools which I’d not used before including KiCAD (http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite) and FreeCAD (http://www.freecadweb.org/)
- Not convinced I’d ever consider making one, but was enlightening to see the technology used to make a fully open device. Was surprised how functional it was.
Recycle your Android devices for anything: run real Linux on them – David Greaves
Talk video:- http://video.fosdem.org/2015/devroom-embedded/sailfishos.mp4
- Room was pretty packed with quite a few Jolla / SailfishOS friendly people at the front – managed to score myself a Jolla beanie hat from them
- I was interested in this talk because it was focussed mostly on porting Mer & SailfishOS to Android devices.
- We have a similar porting guide in Ubuntu but ours was outdated and inaccurate. This was fixed recently.
- The Mer project had a nice overview of ports status online (https://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Adaptations/libhybris), which I’ve shamelessly stolen for Ubuntu (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uUHF463g4f4L5ljWZf0l7b4VAevM-twHag4ZoEd_TNc/edit?usp=sharing)
- Interested in the community they’re building specifically around porting – dedicated irc channel, irc meetings and real world meet-ups are something we should probably consider for our (Ubuntu) porters because right now I think our porters feel a bit helpless at times
Are distributions really boring and a solved problem? – Lucas Nussbaum
- Illuminating talk about some of the problems the Debian project faces currently
- As I’m not a Debian developer it was interesting to me to learn a bit about the Debian Sausage Factory and some of the issues they/we face
GCompris goes Qt Quick with the help of KDE – Bruno Coudoin
- A quick talk from Bruno about the work he’s done to port GCompris to the Qt framework
- Learned that the development model for GCompris includes using In-App-Purchases on non-free platforms (Google Play store) to fund development of Open Source projects.
Copyleft in Europe: How does copyleft interact with Exhaustion Of Rights – Amanda Brock, Andrew Katz
- This was a super fascinating and slightly complex legalese talk which I admit I didn’t completely follow, but Amanda and Andrew made it digestable for a layman such as myself
Fork and Ignore: Fighting a GPL Violation By Coding Instead – Bradley M. Kuhn
- Brilliant talk from Bradley, one of the highlights from FOSDEM. Slides above are from a different event, but same talk as far as I can tell.
- Was enlightening to see an alternative way to deal with a GPL violation than the default which seems to be to take legal action and sue
- Not all forks are bad
Ubuntu on phones and beyond – Michał Sawicz
- Michał gave a brief talk to a pretty packed room about the current state of Ubuntu for devices, and the future direction
- Turned into more of a Q&A, which was beneficial as much of the audience had questions to ask
- Was interesting to see some of the same questions come up again and again
- Depressing to still get “Haha! LOL Amazon shills” comments and questions
Mobile == Web – Stormy Peters
- Call to arms to developers to make their sites work well on the web for the next generation of smart phone users
- Disappointed to see yet another Mozilla person preach about openness from the confines of a MacBook running OSX
Maintaining & Growing a technical community – Ali Spivak
- Ali gave some illuminating stats about contributions to the Mozilla project and how that fluctuates over time
- Lots of info about what motivates people to contribute to open source projects and Mozilla in particular
- “Being open is no good if nobody can find your resources” – we (Ubuntu) have some fixes to do there
Internet all the things – using curl in your device – Daniel Stenberg
- This was one of my favourite talks from FOSDEM. Learning how many projects use a simple (hah) tool like curl
- Even learned about some command line options in curl that I’d not seen or used before.
- Worth a watch
Living on Mars: A Beginner’s Guide – Ryan MacDonald
- Fantastic talk to round off FOSDEM 2015. Ryan gave a fast-paced & entertaining talk about the Mars One mission plan and his part in it.
Porting Tizen:Common to open source hardware devices – Phil Coval
- Another porting talk (to go along with the Jolla one above) specifically talking about porting Tizen to Open Hardware
- Interesting to hear about the Sunxi community build up around porting
Reached milestones and ongoing development on Replicant – Paul Kocialkowski
- Fascinating talk detailing what lengths Paul goes to in order to develop a fully Free Software implementation of Android
- In short, it’s not ‘finished’, and with the limited number of devices it’s possible to ‘open up’ probably won’t be any time soon
GNOME – creating ripples in the Linux eco-system – Sri Ramkrishna
- I was somewhat disappointed in this talk as it seemed to be billed as showcasing the best of what GNOME have done over the years, but came across as poorly thought through and the points a bit laboured.
Servo (the parallel web browser) and YOU! – Josh Matthews
- Josh did a great job of showing the state of Servo right now and where gaps exist in the functionality, certainly worth watching for the Servo demo alone