FOSDEM 2024: On the Right Track

I am writing this post from Brussels Zaventem airport, where I am lucky enough to have been provided 50 extra minutes before my flight departs to let everything we saw this weekend sink in, and write this post.

This weekend, FOSDEM 2024 took place in its usual venue, the ULB campus in Brussels. This has been my fifth consecutive year attending the event 1, and even if I am far from being considered an usual (I saw some people are still rocking their FOSDEM 2004 tees), I have enough data points now to see some trends in how the event changes over the years.

Laura Durieux talking in the main track (Janson)

For those that don’t know it, FOSDEM stands for Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting, and is celebrated every year on the first weekend of February in the ULB in Brussels - nothing says European as a good meetup in Belgium. It has been a reference in the FOSS scene in Europe for a very long time, and if you are an active Mastodon user, odds are you have seen posts related to it in your feed.

My favorite talks this year

This year was, by far, my most productive FOSDEM edition: I attended a whopping total of 24 talks 2, in 4 different devrooms and the two main tracks. Therefore, this year’s selection was tougher than usual. These are, however, some of the talks I enjoyed the most, in no particular order:

Some more comments

I really enjoyed this edition. It seemed less crowded than last year, but looking at the stats available, it looks like more people attended. I can only thank the organization because everything went super smoothly for me: not once I tried to enter a room and was left out because there was no place inside. I had to stand on the back on some of them, but that is a much better option than being left at the door after 15 minutes of waiting outside.

Even if clearly male-dominated, I got the feeling of a more diverse conference, both in speakers and attendants. The estimations of female speakers 3 this year add to 13.25% (from 11.11% last year). The percentage may seem dismal, but it shows some efforts in the right direction, and this year also had the largest number of speakers. Some of the higher-profile rooms are increasing its percentages (even if there are still several on 0%), which helps provide the mirage of having a better representation. I hope that all the non-male attendants felt at home so that we can keep reversing the trend in the industry and, most importantly, the community.

I cannot help but also mention that Bytenight at the Hackerspace Bruxelles was an absolute blast. If you are coming next year to FOSDEM / OFFDEM, do not miss it: great music, greater ambience, fun vibes, lovely drinks and a room were you could play SuperTuxKart in 4K (I swear). I don’t want to tell too much, but those who were there sure can vouch for me when I say that it felt like the Mastodon in the early days. It is a pity that they will be changing venues since the current building, but I am sure the folks at HSBXL will turn the new venue into an amazing space as well.

As some quick side notes to end: BĂ©arnaise is slowly displacing andalouse as my favorite frittes sauce, I still have the firm believe that you cannot miss when buying waffles in Brussels (all of them are great) and if anyone wants to try some local brews next year, please get a Zinnebir and thank me later.

If you are able to attend the event next year, please come! I am sure you will be welcome and surely have a great time.

  1. Counting only in-person meetups, my first year was 2018 but there were no physical events in 2021 or 2022 due to COVID-19. ↩︎

  2. Full disclosure: six were 5’ talks happening in the NixOS devroom. ~20 talks is still a very impressive number, though. ↩︎

  3. One more year, thanks to Edward Betts for the script that computes female representation in the schedule; it still works wonderfully one year later! ↩︎