February each year may be gloomy and cold, but there's one guaranteed bright spot for software developers in the form of the Free and Open Source Developers' European Meeting - FOSDEM. Held in Brussels on the first weekend in February, it's a magnet for open source projects and the developers who sustain them.
The event, held on the campus of the Free University of Brussels (ULB), attracts upwards of five thousand participants each year who come for unique FOSDEM mixture of conference content, project-specific developer rooms (DevRooms) and mass socialisation -- inevitably involving beer for many people. This year there are 460 speakers, 472 sessions, and 39 tracks all packed into two days.
This year's FOSDEM will be held across the weekend of February 2nd and 3rd and has some significant international speakers to supplement the main content tracks and DevRooms. Here are some of my highlights for the weekend:
- Swedish Pirate Party Party politician and MEP Amelia Andersdotter will be speaking on Saturday delivering a keynote speech. She says "the patent and copyright systems seem as irrevocably broken as ever they have. What can we expect from the future, and how do we deal with the present?"
- Jacob Appelbaum is know to most internet developers for his work on the network anonymity system The Onion Router (TOR), as an expert on security issues and as a spokesperson for Wikileaks. Appelbaum will be speaking in the Security track on Saturday about the Open Observatory of Network Interference.
- Licensing and software freedom visionary Eben Moglen will be speaking on Sunday afternoon, giving an update with Bdale Garbee on the status of the FreedomBox project.
- FSF executive director John Sullivan will be giving a state of the GNUnion address on Sunday morning.
- FSF board member and Software Freedom Conservancy executive director Bradley Kuhn will be co-chairing as well as speaking in the Legal Issues DevRoom (where I'm also speaking, on Saturday afternoon).
- Mark Reinhold, the chief architect for Java at Oracle, will be opening the Free Java DevRoom with a talk on the state of OpenJDK and will be joined by Oracle VP Georg Saab for a community Q & A.
If I can find time I'll also try to visit the LibreOffice and MySQL DevRooms on Sunday and the Community Development and Marketing DevRoom on Saturday.
FOSDEM is the international meeting point for free and open source software, but despite its importance to us all it is still a community-run event that is completely free of charge. You can decide to attend as late as next week and still get the full benefit from all this richness - assuming you can get a seat, of course!
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