1 Designer among 5000 Developers – FOSDEM 2015

Open Source and endless beer.
Every year I get curious whether the biggest FLOSS conference in Europe sets new priorities as new trend come along and technologies evolve.
Apparently no. Beer, Open Source, Beer and Club Mate is the motto of FOSDEM, held on the weekend between January and February. Did I mention there was beer too?
I was invited by the Mozilla Localization team to coordinate the l10n efforts at FOSDEM. It was a relatively spontaneous decision, but things went pretty smooth at the end of the day.

I wish that other Open Labs members would have been able to attend FOSDEM this year, but unfortunately it wasn’t feasible.
Plan for FOSDEM 2016 people!

Disclaimer: You will encounter the word “beer” several times in this blog post. If you think I’m overstating things, you probably haven’t been to FOSDEM yet.

As it was my second FOSDEM this year (I was lucky enough to be there in 2014 with Redon Skikuli), I planned my flights in order to arrive early in the morning on Friday, so I would have some spare time left to prepare for the weekend. The fact that I was unable to sleep the night before wasn’t really favourable though.
Unlike most Mozillians, I did not reserve a hotel room in the center of Brussels, but around 3km far away from it, together with a few other Mozillians.

After I arrived at the hotel I found out that Richard Stallman (the founder of the Free Software Foundation) was at that time in Brussels and would give a presentation near one of the universities in Brussels (not the FOSDEM ULB). Unfortunately I was unable to attend, as the presentation would be held on the other side of the city, leaving me too little time to organize my day. I also needed some rest, so I was smart and did that.

Stallman also came the following day to FOSDEM, although not planned. This time not as a speaker, but as a protester. Apparently FOSDEM has removed the “Free” from its slogan this year; leaving it only “Open Source”. If you are unsure about the definition of “Free Software”, I suggest you to read the definition according to the Free Software Foundation. In my opinion that was a really unneeded change from the FOSDEM team and even offensive for everyone supporting Free Software (on top of open source software). However, the FOSDEM staff fixed this the next day as it seems.

For all of those who plan to attend FOSDEM next year: It doesn’t count if you don’t drink at least 3 beers at the beer event on Friday at the Delirium Bar. We did exactly this at the end of the day. Unfortunately most Mozillians were pretty spread out at the venue (Delirium is huge) and we didn’t have our own tables, but it didn’t matter much after a few beer, when I befriended various programmers, hackers and activists from all around the world, without knowing them prior. I did not count the beers, but after waking up next morning, I knew I drank one too much.



Those who do not know: Delirium offers over 3000 types of beers, holding the Guinness World Record for the biggest amount of beer types offered. Among a selection of various exotic beers, it also offers our very own Korça beer!

Saturday began with a huge hangover. But that was okay, I was not the only one after all. As we needed to leave the hotel at 8AM, we found it impossible to enjoy a proper breakfast. I slept only 6 hours in the last 48 hours, so I was in need of some coffees, Red Bull and Club Mate to regenerate.

Before you are wondering why I’m talking so much about sleeplessness, alcohol and caffeine in my blog, let me suggest you to consider them as advices. You will be grateful next time you will attend such an intensive conference as FOSDEM.

Around noon of the first day I have replenished some of my energy and used the chance to bring some of the Mozilla localizers together and have a thorough l10n session with some brainstorming how to solve various problems regarding localization in our communities. I will report about it in a seperate blog post.



I was also very happy to see Mozilla’s Developer Room full most of the time ( there were 370 people in “the future of JavaScript” session!). We practically had the whole building for us, as no other organization was there.

Search on Twitter and Instagram for #mozdem to check out the Mozilla Updates at FOSDEM ’15

I also had the pleasure to meet new and old friends, (not including Mozillians here, who are many more): Erik Albers, Gijs Hillenius, Helen Codling, Cat Allman, Marc Balmer, Bert Desmet, Sam Tuke and many others I might have forgotten here.



The 2nd day was mostly filled with me trying to find partners, speakers and sponsors for OSCAL 2015. I’m very enthusiastic about this year’s edition and lately also a bit more calmer after Google and Mozilla are confirmed sponsors. We will also await more than 15 Mozillians at OSCAL, something which rarely happens at events of this nature in the region.

That guilt you have when you rob booths from so many stickers and Tshirts is unique at FOSDEM (I still am surprised how my luggage survived with over 50kg of FLOSS inside). Your feet will hurt like hell all day, and the beer will do its job in the late hours.

Yet every second was worth it.

Anyone who still doubts to attend FOSDEM ’16 is no friend of mine.
Anyone who wants to be friends with me: You know what to do.



Later on the second day, I chatted with fellow Mozillian from Greece, Giannis Konstantinidis (Mozilla Rep, Fedora Ambassador) whether we preferred the FOSDEM ’14 or ’15 experience. Giannis insisted that ’14 was more impressive. I could share the same opinion at that time.

But a few weeks later, I honestly cannot make comparisons. Each and every FOSDEM is unique in its own way; you just need to have arrived home sober before you can know what the heck happened that weekend in Brussels.

Epic, just epic.