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Greetings from FOSDEM 2016!

We here at Ambientia use quite a bit of open source technology to deliver our solutions. In fact, it is very much in our DNA from the ground up. Our servers and virtual machines run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, applications are developed with Java or PHP, data is persisted on MySQL or PostgreSQL databases and so on.  These are all open source technologies and very important to us.

Ray Tsang and Kubernetes cluster running on Raspberry Pis

Ray Tsang and a Kubernetes cluster running on Raspberry Pis

Since open source software is such an important part of our core business, it makes sense to attend an event that provides a unique view of the open source software landscape. It is very important for us to both deeply understand the technology currently in use and also to have some idea of how the technologies we use are going to evolve in the future.

FOSDEM is an annual Free and Open Source developers meeting held in Brussels, Belgium.  It is a community organized event, open to everyone without registration. It is also a huge event with approximately 6000-7000 visitors this year.  FOSDEM is also a very varied event, with talks about implementing Kubernetes clusters, future developments of the Ada programming language and development of open source EDA tools taking place comfortably side by side.

I and my colleague Mr. Ville Törhönen were lucky enough to make it to FOSDEM this year.  At first, the sheer size of the event felt pretty overwhelming: corridors of the ULB campus were packed to the brim with people going to every direction and most session rooms (so-called “devrooms”, all centered around a single topic like Containers, Java, MySQL etc.) equally packed with people. Well before the event, we carefully planned a schedule with the intention of cherry picking the most interesting talks of every devroom. Unfortunately, this plan backfired a little due to huge amount of people attending the event.  More than a couple of times when I  left a devroom to attend a talk in another one, I was not able to get in since the room was already full. For most talks, I had planned backups (alternate talks to attend) in case the room would be full, but my backup talks were often full as well. In retrospective, a better strategy would have been not to run around the campus attempting to attend the most interesting talks on various topics, but instead stick around in a single room for an extended period of time.  It was just nigh impossible to get into some of the most popular rooms (e.g. the “Containers and Process Isolation” devroom) during the day.

However, even though I was not able to attend some of the talks I wanted to see, the event as a whole was just great. The quality of the talks was exceptional and very to the point with  virtually no marketing fluff to be found. If you are a hardcore techie like me and love the open source way of doing things, this is definitely the event for you. Oh, there was also some decent Belgian beer to be had amidst the talks, but that’s a completely different story.

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