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Another year, another Fosdem

2013 February 12

fosdem logoWe arrived in Brussels on Friday and decided to spend a few hours enjoying ourselves before the big weekend. After booking in at the hotel, we decided to walk to the Musée de la Bande Dessinée (aka The Belgian Comic Strip Museum). There we were reminded that comic strips started a long time ago – see les caves de Lascaux, and through the centuries they got better and better or should I say more irreverent and of course funnier. There I learnt that the Strumfs did not translate well, so they are called the Smurfs in English but they are still the little blue people. Unfortunately Asterix was missing, big mistake – he is doubtless le roi de la bande dessinée.

From the Museum we went to the Delirium – one has to go there once in a lifetime on the eve of Fosdem. It is tradition, that attendees of Fosdem will meet at this drinking house on the Friday evening. All the rooms are packed with a large amount of people waiting, talking, drinking in the street. There you meet most of your friends but it is also where my memory leaves me. So should you get a blank look from me, please do not get upset, even though, I don’t remember your name, your face or where we met before I still love talking with you – just give me some little reminders. It is a genuine lack of memory and not that I do not want to remember. After spending an hour at the Delirium, we went for dinner Chez Léon – a well-known place to the Fosdem attendees. The service is perfect, the food is good and not over expensive. After a meal of Chicons and moules, it was time to go to bed and be ready for the onslaught next morning.

Got to the University Libre at 7am and was welcomed by 49 boxes of books to display in a kind of order before the arrival of the delegates at 9.30. The taxi we took that morning was the last time we sat down until we got driven back to the hotel at 7 or 8 pm. As every year, Fosdem is busy or should I say extremely busy. This year seems to be even busier than ever, I am pretty sure that there were over 5000 attendees during the two days. It is always a pleasure to meet our old friends- Ian, Paul, Gerv from the UK, Vim from Belgium, Laurent from France, Liz and Wendy from the Netherlands, Marian and Toni from Bulgaria, Andrew from Russia or new authors Pieter Hintjens (ZeroMQ: The Definitive Guide) , Lorna Mitchell (PHP Web Services) , Daniel Pocock (Monitoring Ganglia)  or not so new authors like Brian King. Fosdem is always full of surprises – you never know who will turn up and have a chat.

On Saturday night we went to dinner with the Perl people – Dinner was arranged for 20 people but somehow we ended up over 40 to the annoyance of the chef who could not cope. The food was not the greatest but the beer and the chair were very welcomed as well as the company. At long last I met Ovid Poe, not only a perl guru but an expat as well so we do have one thing in common. What I like about Fosdem is the internationality – at my table for example we had people from UK, Bulgaria, Norway, Finland and France. Language is never a problem – we all talk a kind of English but funny I cannot recall talks about Perl.


Building H, after the event

Next day we had a lie-in, we did not have to be at the university until 8 am and the tables of books were ready. Sunday is always a repeat of Saturday – busy, no time for lunch and definitely no time to sit down. We had a surprise visit from Raphael Bauduin – one of the key founders of Fosdem but unfortunately retired. Soon the conference was over and it was time to pack, to clean and as you can see nothing changed. Sorry things have changed we now have more than one broom.

But what is Fosdem? It is the meeting of 5000+ open source enthusiasts from all around the world. There are 250+ lectures, lightning talks, dev rooms, key signings, job corner section and of course stands where people can show their open source projects and where you can buy our latest books :).

Thank you to the Fosdem team for such a brilliant show and yes – I will definitely be there next year – will you?

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