It appears that I’m sat in Terminal B of L’Aeroporte Nationale de Bruxelles, waiting for my flight to board. While there are wirelesses around, the ones to which I can connect seem not to be offering much in the way of DHCP so this update will come in later than it was written (which was at 13:35), as I will probably post it while I’m on the bus between Heathrow and Oxford. [Update: actually not until I got home]
Irrelevancies such as that aside, I had a great FOSDEM! In fact, a great half-FOSDEM, as I did my tourism today. I met a load of people (of which more below), went to some inspiring talks and discussed many exciting and interesting projects (in multiple languages – I spoke to one person in English, Dutch and French sometimes in the same sentence). It was a good exercise to see who wasn’t present as much as who was – for instance RedHat didn’t have an official presence although the Fedora Project had a booth (next to the CentOS one ;-), similarly Novell (one of the big sponsors) was absent but the OpenSUSE project had Yet Another Small Table. Sun were conspicuously present in that the OpenSolaris and OpenJDK table was being manned seemingly by Sun’s salespeople rather than user group members…although maybe that’s just my interpretation.
The overriding feeling I got was that the conference was running on l’espirit d’anarchie and that the resulting adrenaline and enthusiasm drove the conference on. The keynote speeches were really the only regimented aspect of FOSDEM – a necessity given the size of the auditorium and that was packed to the rafters with FLOSSers. I didn’t go to the final keynote on open-sourcing Java as I was manning the GNUstep booth, but learned a lot on software patents and Free Software and Jim Gettys’ description of the technical challenges in creating OLPC was very insightful.
So, GNUstep. GNUstep, GNUstep, Etoile [I’ll add the accents in in a later update…this keyboard doesn’t have dead keys :-(]. For a start it was great to meet all the other GNUsteppers, and have some good discussions and debates (as well as some good moule frites and Kwak beer). For anyone who doubts that GNUstep is still alive, the dev room at FOSDEM is one place to allay such suspicions with many developers, designers, users and supporters presenting their ideas to each other, asking each other questions and generally contributing to the GNUstep camaraderie. Even an improptu troll by Miguel de Icaza at the GNUstep booth wasn’t enough to make us all throw Project Center away and buy a book on C# ;-). Presentations on GNUstep-make v2 (which I’ve described here before…), the Cairo graphics back-end (which I don’t think Fred Kiefer was expecting to present, but made a very fine job of it anyway) and third-party use of GNUstep were all very useful and well-received…I expect today’s presentations were too but I didn’t get to go to them :-(. [Instead, I was significantly underwhelmed by the sight of the Mannekin Pis.]