last weekend I was at the FSCONS 2010 (Free Society Conference and Nordic
Summit) in Gothenburg, Sweden. The event took place at the building of the
IT University in Gothenburg and had about 300 visitors and 50 speakers that
talked about embedded systems, ethics, digital infrastructure, rapid
prototyping, hackerspaces, decentralised networks, free software, forks of
the free software philosophy and social movements.
Last week at early Friday morning, I flew from Stuttgart via Hamburg to
Gothenburg - not my first trip to Sweden, but my first one to Gothenburg.
I arrived at noon at Gothenburg-Landvetter airport and travelled by bus
into the city itself, where I dropped my baggage at the hotel and went for
some sightseeing around the harbor (the lipstick building, the windjammer
sailing ship etc.).
In the evening, I went to the traditional pre-FSCONS event, a social event
before FSCONS opening. There I met Henrik Nordström for the first time. He
recently decided to get an ambassador and being not "just" technically
involved into the Fedora Project. I really appreciate his decision, as he
was the only Swedish speaking Fedora Ambassador at FSCONS, because Roger
Sinel, who also signed up for the event, became unfortunately sick a few
days before. While talking to Henrik, I got that he's not only our Squid
HTTP Proxy Cache package maintainer, but also an upstream developer - shame
over me, I really should have known this when using Squid for 10 years.
At Saturday morning, I moved via bus with our swag and booth material to
the IT university and prepared together with Henrik our booth. During the
day, Henrik and I mainly promoted Fedora, handed out some media and swag
and answered questions around the OLPC XO, which I brought with me, too. I
soon recognized, the FSCONS is not a typical event where visitors just show
up and lookup which projects or organisations are there, so most attendees
were already involved into projects or leading their own project.
Over the day I learned, that similar to Denmark, most Linux users in Sweden
are Ubuntu users. Nevertheless there were some Fedora users that showed up
at our booth and we talked to them. It was an interesting thing to explain
the Ubuntu users the difference between Fedora and Ubuntu, when they asked
for it - some of them even promised to give Fedora a try. Fortunately most
people speak English, because I don't speak any Swedish (except "Hej" for
"Hello"), which generally enabled me to talk to visitors.
In the evening, the social event took place at Berg 211, a party and event
location in Gothenburg. Berg 211 consists out of corridors within a smaller
mountain. Have a look to the photos if you want to get more impressions.
During the social event, the "Nordic Free Software Award" was handed over
by the jury to Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson for his work and efforts around Linux
and Open Source in the Nordic region - congratulations also at this time.
At Sunday morning, I moved with our swag and booth material from the hotel
to the IT university again and prepared our booth for the day, while Henrik
attended a talk.
Let me say, that Henrik did a very good job at his first event as a Fedora
Ambassador. It pays off, that Henrik is a long-time Fedora contributor and
thus knows about our foundations and really appreciates them. And he showed
this especially when explaining the differences of Fedora compared with
other Linux distributions. This together with the fact, that he's speaking
Swedish was a great help, because speaking the same native language lowered
the barriers to talk about people and I think, he had more intensive talks
to people than me - which is absolutely okay, of course.
Finally, it was really another great event with many interesting people.
I've made pictures and as I dislike Flickr and similar portals, I decided
some time ago to start my own tiny gallery at my fedorapeople.org
The FSCONS in Gothenburg was another proof, that we need to invest more
into the European Nordic region (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland)
to be better known and have more users. There are enough people, that heard
of Ubuntu, but not of Fedora. And there were people, that asked about the
relationship between Red Hat and Fedora - another sign, that we're not well
known enough so far.
From my point of view, we definately should show up there with Fedora next
year again and maybe give a talk if somehow possible. The reason for not
giving a talk this year was, that the call for talks was reached when I got
aware about the event. If somebody has further or better ideas about making
Fedora better and more widely known in Scandinavia, I'm very happy to get
ideas or hints by you on-list (or even off-list via e-mail).
Even if we didn't get any new contributor, I think there were one or two
guys that were very interested and have the potential to get a contributor,
so they might sign up in FAS in the future...
Personally, the FSCONS event gave me the possibility to meet people like
Jonas Öberg (FSFE, jwhois), Simon Josefsson (libidn), Karsten Gerloff (the
president of FSFE) or Matthias Kirschner (FSFE) which I just knew by e-mail
before or which I didn't personally know before at all.
On Monday, I did some further sightseeing in the city and parks (visiting
the elk family) and exploring the city before I flew back in the evening
from Gothenburg-Landvetter via Frankfurt to Stuttgart again.
Finally, thank you to Henrik for his time, work and translations. It really
was a pleasure for me to meet and work with you. Hope to see you on another
event in the future... :)