So, last weekend (25-26/02/06) FOSDEM, the Free and OpenSource Developer European Meeting (right?) took place at the ULB campus in Brussels, Belgium (Europe). Just like last edition (I wasn't "into" FOSS before last year, flame me) it was great to be there. Interesting talks and demo's, some great people, productive discussions,... No Social Event with unlimited drinks like at LinuxTag but hey, at least there was no MS booth.
After only 2 hours of sleep (yawn) I took off to Brussels by train with some of the Zeus people. Public transports (bus) in Brussels are expensive!
Once arrived at the campus we headed to the Janson room for RMS' keynote. Once you know RMS'll do a talk, you can be fairly sure about what you'll hear. This year he talked about why software patents are evil (and I won't disagree on most of his ideas there), there was the always-returning GNU/Linux frustration (hey, where's HURD at?), some jokes (if they were intended like that?) on GIF/PNG,...
Anyway, one major comment on the keynote: I hope his "Thank you for removing that source of noise" quote won't be published too much. Not all hackers only love their computer, some of them do like little kids or human beings in general. Of course crying babies can be irritating sometimes, but there are limits. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned though.
After the keynote there was some little talk about how to fight software patents, and GPL3, which me and Ward skipped as we were fairly hungry. After a while we found some little restaurant (with some other visitors in there, with and without laptop) where we had a good meal (spghetti carbonara, yum).
In the afternoon we went to the GNOME devroom for the introduction (oh my, the room was crowded!). Everyone was invited to introduce himself and say what he/she(?) was working on, after which Damien Sandras started his talk on Ekiga (former GnomeMeeting). In fact I didn't intend to go to that talk (sorry!) but to the XDevConf overview in the X devroom, but as the GNOME room was so crowded I couldn't get out of there :-S
Anyway, Damien's overview was pretty interesting. I installed Ekiga on my system this afternoon, but didn't manage to get it working though yet, STUN problems I think. Bloody router. Ekiga (relase date 16/03 IIRC?) seems to be some nice software though (although I must admit I'm not really convinced by Damien's idea on Jabber integration...). Now if only I'd have a mic and/or webcam :-)
At 15:00 I wanted to attend the DTrace talk in Janson's. It was the first time I really saw what DTrace is, how it works, and some samples were showed. Hot stuff! I certainly got a reason to play around with OpenSolaris one day.
I intended to go to Tor's talk on "Writing Win32-friendly GNOME libs/apps" in the GNOME devroom afterwards, but didn't get in as the doors were closed (I guess the room was overcrowded again?). Too bad, as win32 could be a big market for our platform. Don't the KDE guys want to get most of KDE4 apps running on it?
Oh well, after a while there was Philip's interesting talk on Design Patterns combined when using GObjects. Some great information (although most people already know most patterns presented from things like DBUS (Proxy) and any event-driven widget toolkit like our beloved GTK+ (Observer)) and samples. Philip is right, things like this are very important to keep our lib API's both manageable, future-proof and fast.
After the talk some more discussion (with Jeff, Philip and a couple of other guys I didn't know) on several subjects. I wasn't active in it, but heard some interesting things. One of them was the fact we should be fairly proud of all the work we do. Sometimes it looks like we make no progress, or almost none, due to the 6 months release cycles. This might be somewhat true: it's not easy to make really big changes in our existing applications in "only" 6 months. The changes should be fairly obvious though if you'd run a GNOME 2.6 desktop (Sun's Java Desktop?) nowadays. That's "only" 2 years ago, and changes are, well, fairly obvious.
Some more technical discussions took place too, but I must admit I can't remember what it was all about at the moment :-S
After a while I took of with RubenV and some of his friends to Leuven (slept there). Had a meal in the city, walked around a bit, and discussed lots of things 'till 02:00 or something. Pure tech stuff (GIM!), related issues (secret ;-)), whatsoever.
On sunday we had to get up at 07:00 so we could attend the first talk in the X room (blame me!) about automatic configuration of displays. Sometimes very hard to understand what they were talking about, but it was fairly interesting (the parts I did understand). There's still a lot of work to do, most obviously.
At 10:30 we intended to attend jdub's talk on "GNOME advicacy, stuff like that" in the GNOME room again. Sadly enough he was unable to be there. Better luck next time! We just sat back and went to the X talk on "DTracing the Xorg server" as planned. More DTrace hotness, too bad real demo's were lacking a bit. As the shedule was broken a little, I wasn't able to go to the Valgrind talk as I intended to do.
After lunch the GNOME room was the place to be again as Jon talked about Beagle in there. No real talk, just some chatting about lots of things. Why we should use C# instead of C to develop our desktop applications, what he's doing at Google (well, at least what he was allowed to tell us), what Goobuntu is,...
Some great new on the Mono front. Last year in the GNOME room I had a long discussion with Alex Larsson and several others on Mono's memory performance and garbage collector, as Beagle did suffer from these issues (I tried to be a Beagle contributor in those days, but didn't dare to ask Jon a signature... I was that soylent guy, remember?). Now it looks like the Mono people are working on a less conservative garbage collector. Some great news!
After Jon had to leave for his "real" Beagle talk, I waited for Sebastien's talk on GScore and Cairo. As I'm a musician too, wanted to write a GTK+-based score editor too one day and did intend to use Cairo there (where are those "OXO" times?) it was interesting, also to get some insight in the GScore internal workings. Rock on!
Finally there was Kristian's talk on Project Ridley and GTK+2.10. If you read Planet Gnome regularly, most things said over there were "old news", but now seeing everything bundled, I guess everyone in there knows 2.10 will rock. Finally libegg can die die die.
After some more food and drinks I wanted to go to the OpenOffice.org talk in Chavanne, but doors were closed and the entrance is in front. Oh I hate those rooms.
Had a little talk with Jon and some others on Beagle/Project Soylent (RIP) etc. Great to be able to talk to some developers IRL.
After hanging around a little longer the talk on XUL started. It was aminly about XULRunner, which wasn't what I expected. Too bad we didn't see some examples on how to write XUL applications.
Finally there was Jeff's ending talk. Some great things in there. Funny winks, but also some thorough analysis of both problems the FOSS community faces, and some great things already done. Very pragmatic/liberal views too, which isn't a bad thing at all.
I can imagine some non-G* people were a little upset but hey, after all Jeff is a GNOME and Ubuntu advocate, next to FOSS in general.
Train to Ghent, luckily my bike wasn't stolen or damaged at the station. Got home, fairly tired, slept 'till 14:00 today...
Overall it was a great weekend. Superb to meet some people for the first time IRL, or meet some of them again (Hey GNOME-NL, GNOME, X.org and x-tend guys! Hi Genstef!). Sadly enough I didn't meet some of the people I intended to see (sorry [url=http://raphael.slinckx.net/]Rapha