Back from FOSDEM. I didn’t blog whilst there ‘cos although I’m OK with carrying low-sensitivity passwords (such as my WordPress one) on a mobile device, I had neglected to copy it to the pocket-puter. Also missing – this time deliberately – the key to decrypt the backup copy available from my webserver. And finally, a reset seemed OTT for such a brief interruption to blogging.
So what did I get this year? Socially, I put faces to the names of long-standing online colleagues jMCg and (much more briefly) sjorge, and renewed acquaintance with a few other folks. Techie-wise, I went to several talks, some of which were discussions in which I participated actively. Finally jMCg and I met and chatted to Alex and Martin, who I didn’t know previously, but who are developing a really exciting-looking Apache module.
A new theme for me this year was mobile platforms. I think quite a lot of folks are making that jump around now, as the ‘puter and smaller devices converge. As I already said, lots of folks this year have foregone the pleasures of a bigger screen and keyboard for the convenience of devices that can be handheld and that run the whole day without having to find a power source. While there were many different devices in use, the N900 seemed to be possibly the #1 geek gadget ahead of Android: evidently I’m not the only one to see it as the pocket-puter!
An old theme was upstream-vs-downstream, as Gentoo man Petteri Räty gave a session on how to be a good upstream. Actually he just spoke briefly to bootstrap a discussion (a format well-suited to the subject). Much of what he said was familiar because where I’ve done the wrong thing in the past, packagers have contacted me to explain how I could improve things. Speaking as an upstream source for him, I was able to put the complementary view, and add my conclusion that what really matters is good communication. There was general agreement when I cited Debian vs OpenSSL as exemplifying the perils of failure to communicate.
Alas, I missed the keysigning. Two reasons: one a clash (to see Andrew Tanenbaum speaking is history in action, and might be a once-in-a-lifetime), the other a muddle (I hadn’t realised I needed to print out the list of keys/attendees myself back home first). Tanenbaum, who spoke compellingly of the virtues of microkernels, was indeed one of the highlights of the event.