February 24th, 2007

max

live from fosdem

This is FOSDEM.

I am live, in a corner of FOSDEM near our Fedora Project booth. It is 1:00 PM on Saturday in Brussels, and FOSDEM has been underway for about three hours. I've taken a whole bunch of pictures, but for the moment they are stuck on my digital camera.

Let's back up a bit though, since my last blog post was on Wednesday night....

Friday in Brussels

The morning was low-key -- it wasn't until about 1:30 that Spot and I wandered to Le Grand Place, which is the central plaza of Brussels. In this location was the restaurant that was chosen as the meeting place for the Fedora group.

Folks turned up steadily over the next hour or so -- Damien Durand, Dimitris Glezos, Pawel Sadowski, Chitlesh Goorah, Gerold Kassube, Joerg Simon, Francesco Ugolini, and many more. It was a great crowd, and as I talked about in my FUDCon Boston article, we did a round of "hi, what's your name, what's your IRC nick" and all of a sudden, virtual identities became real connections.

It's been pretty cold in Brussels, so we sat down to have some coffee, hot chocolate, soup, and beer. As the chatter went on, I was really pleased to see that for the European Fedora Ambassadors, this weekend in FOSDEM is more than just a bunch of guys representing Fedora -- it's a group of friends who are all enjoying each other's company, and working together to create a really strong European community.

One of the interesting things that Francesco said: "The fact that we all spend a lot of time together and have a personal relationship allows us to hold each other accountable for things directly, and that's a powerful force." +1 to the Power of the Community.

We covered a lot of ground, in terms of Fedora discussions. One of the main topics was the need for Ambassadors to take a lesson from some of the more technical parts of Fedora, and do a better job at mentoring new people into the project. The buzz on the street is that there are a lot of people who come to the Fedora Project with some good energy, but after they get installed and get to the wiki, they end up saying "now what" since they're not quite sure what they can do to promote Fedora.

Part of this problem is one of localization. You can go through the process of learning to be an Fedora packager regardless of where you live, but unless you are near a place where there are already active Ambassadors organizing events, it's hard to get real experience doing an event.

Another topic of conversation was helping to delegate responsibility. If an event is going to happen, there are several roles that need to be filled. One is purely operational -- coordinating with the location, scheduling the talks, making sure that there are handouts or posters, getting swag, publicity, etc. The skill set needed to do these kinds of things is different from the skill set needed once you actually get to the event and stand at the booth or deliver a talk.

Once you're actually speaking about Fedora, now it's about the message, and I think that for a lot of Ambassadors, we need to do a better job of filtering. Freedom, choice, community model -- those are the core principles of Fedora. After that, you need to be able to say in about 30 to 60 seconds what the high points of the current release are, and what the next release will include.

Everything I've seen in the past few days has proven to me that our core group of European Fedora Ambassadors really have their act together from both the organizational and messaging standpoints. Our presence at FOSDEM is well-organized and well run.

Saturday

Day 1 of FOSDEM got off to a bit of a hectic start for me personally. We were supposed to all meet up at the location at 10:00 AM, but I overslept a little bit and also didn't have any cash. Finding an ATM that would accept my US card was much more complicated than I thought it would be, and I ended up being about 30 minutes late. Fortunately, the rest of the guys were on top of things, and the booth was 80% set up by the time I got there. I had the boxes of swag, so we organized that stuff and then we were off and running.

It's been a busy few hours -- when I get the pictures onto my blog, it will paint a better picture than the words can. We've been moving DVDs, pens, stickers, and shirts, for a modest "recommended donation" and the event will to some extent be able to subsidize itself.

Two interesting moments:

+ Spot having a friendly/heated discussion with a Gentoo developer.
+ A guy in an OpenBSD sweatshirt coming by for the express purpose of letting us know that "Fedora is a steaming pile of s$#t".

But there have been lots of people very excited about Fedora -- hearing about the plans for Fedora 7, picking up some of our handouts describing Fedora, etc. It shall be interesting to see what the turnout at the actual Fedora and CentOS sessions is.

I'm finishing this blog post at the beginning of the first session -- "Introduction to CentOS" and there's about 30 people in the room right now.

I also had a chance to sit down with Thomas Vander Stichele and knock out the details of the work that he's going to do for either Test2 or Test3. We're going to need to provide him with some artwork and text, but he'll handle the code.

Finally, I'd like to thank Maureen Duffy for her help on the poster that has all of the Fedora Core 6 usage statistics on it. It looks great, and it's generating a lot of buzz.

I'll leave you with this piece of irony -- I shipped a bunch of Fedora flip flops from Raleigh to Brussels because no one in the USA wanted them. I literally couldn't *give them away*. Meanwhile, here at FOSDEM, they're flying out of the booth.

More later....