Trip Report: FOSDEM 2012

03/05/2012

The Foundation recently sponsored travel expenses for Brooks Davis to attend FOSDEM 2012. Brooks provided the following trip report:

I arrived in Brussels the afternoon of Thursday the 2nd.  After checking in to my hotel I headed into the city center and met up with a group of FreeBSD and Étoilé developers for dinner.  On Friday I toured the city and worked on my presentation for Sunday before joining the crowd at Delrium Cafe for the FOSDEM Beer Event and made some new friends.

Saturday began with the traditional opening talk followed by an interesting talk by Robert Dewar or AdaCore on how they are a profitable company selling a rather expensive GPL licensed product to a very conservative client base (mostly defense and safety critical applications). Other than avoiding costs associated with source escrow, it wasn’t clear that being open source gave them much advantage, but he had a compelling argument that it didn’t hurt either.

In the afternoon I attended a number of talks in the Vitalization and Cloud track. The Aeolus Project and Open Cloud Interoperability with CompatibleOne covered some related efforts to provide interoperability and portability between cloud providers. Both were definitely works in progress, but showed promise. A more interested talk in that track was “Infrastructure as an open-source project” by Ryan Lane of Wikimedia Labs. He talked about the way the had placed most of their infrastructure definition for system setup, configuration management, and monitoring into a git repository to allow project contributors to view and submit patches to the infrastructure. This appears to be growing the number of volunteer contributors to the admin of Wikimedia infrastructure, but has shifted the bottleneck for support staff so now they spend a significant portion of their time review patches to the infrastructure. After that talk a group of FreeBSD Developers adjourned to a local restaurant for dinner and drinks.

Sunday I ran the BSD License Operating System Devroom. We had a room in the new K building at ULB which was very nice. All the equipment was built in and just worked. We had a total of ten talks with topics including MINIX 3 and BSD, an Introduction to pkgng (FreeBSD’s new package system), four talks on pkgsrc and related topics, two talks on FreeBSD toolchain work, one on tablet support in NetBSD, and one on Lua in the NetBSD kernel. The latter was the best attended talk of the day with the room being just about full.  After the talks we attempted a brief brainstorming session on ways we could collaborate.  Unfortunately we were pressed for time and while we got a discussion going, we didn’t have the necessary time to develop concrete ideas. While most of our talks were on BSD OSes, we did talk about expanding the focus of the room a bit further to include other non-Linux OSes next year and received generally positive vibes about that idea.  All in all we had a good set of presentations and I learned quite a bit about other projects so it was personally successful.  Further information on the devroom talks can be found here.

After cleaning up the devroom I met up with a FreeBSD developer for dinner and then joined a group of Étoilé developers at Delirum Cafe. Monday morning I returned to London and proceeded to Cambridge for two weeks of FreeBSD hacking, mostly focused on the toolchain.

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