Just back from FOSDEM (plus some recovery for a bad allergy that put me on pills and rest for the whole week after…), and I really was waiting forward to blog about that.
It has been such a great experience this year, probably one of the best I have memory of, despite it being also one of the most difficult to organize, or perhaps exactly because of the extra effort I had to put into it!
Nevertheless, all the pain was very well worth it, and I’ve had quite a few positive feedback from everybody, thanks!
The presentations were all of very high level, with the best talks from my point of view being Andrew Haley and Andrew Dinn talking about the ARM 64 port, Roman Kennke discussing about Shenandoah, which is the next Big Thing(TM), Volker Simonis and Goetz Lindenmaier speaking about the PowerPC port and Steve O’Grady offering a good rationale why Java is not so dead after all ;)
All other presentations were of great interest though, the room was literally packed up, and people were basically staying all the day long sit to avoid risking to be kicked out of the room due to maximum capacity reached. This is a problem in all of FOSDEM, not just the Java DevRoom. However, I had the impression that this is even more relevant to us: with only minor exception the quantity of people we had to turn away was basically the same (and in case of Steve talk, more!) as the one that was allowed in.
This is surely due to both the popularity of the Java DevRoom, but also to the very unfortunate fact that we could not allow for recording this year, which caused some friction with FOSDEM organizers who even blamed us during the keynote.
Yes, we are cool or something. But that’s not the reason why we weren’t recording.
Part of it was due to lack of manpower and too little time to organize this properly, since the FOSDEM main organizers came with the “we record all, no exception” rule just few days before the actual conference (the whole idea came a bit earlier, although still after the games started, but was always considered “opt-in”). We also had an issue with some talks being specifically not allowed of being recorded, while others simply didn’t tell us their preference, which complicated the matter for us even more, so we just decided to skip for all. While it may or may not make sense to have such a restriction, I can understand that people don’t necessarily want to be recorded. For some is about legal matters, for others is about the shy factor that is quite common amongst hackers around the globe, for some more is just that it isn’t appropriate to record a discussion out of context. DevRoom are also a place for such events, and we ourselves had a couple of examples, one the next day when we borrowed the Valgrind DevRoom space for an AdoptOpenJDK meeting.
No matter what it is the reason, is a matter of Freedom also the ability to opt out for such things, since it gives everybody a chance to contribute to the discussion in the end. And of course, not all of FOSDEM was recorded anyway, because our issues were the same as other DevRooms, but apparently we were the only ones to say this clearly, hence the blaming. Anyway, this big misunderstanding was in turn addressed, and I’m happy we found some kind of agreement with the rest of the FOSDEM people, after all we are all part of the same ecosystem and we do care for this to stay that way, and they really listened to our reasoning and understood the problem in the end. From our side, we’ll do our best to make at least some, if not most, of the recording happening next year.
The main event closed with a great discussion with the Governing Board. I’m very happy with this because FOSDEM has been now the only public place where the Community can meet the GB and share ideas, contribute feedback and address more blaming :)
In fact, there was not much blaming this year at all, most of the things still open on the floor are being addressed and this public space suggested me that my own feeling about OpenJDK as a Community project were correct, the project is well and vibrant and going in the right direction!
This is much because of the good work that everybody involved is doing. While this is to be expected of course, I feel it’s important to acknowledge the role that Oracle played on all that, and I had a chance to thank some of the people representing Oracle at FOSDEM directly, like Mark and Dalibor, Cecilia and Georges, but the list goes on and on, really. It’s important that we continue with constructive feedback and help addressing issues as they come, but it’s even more important that there’s somebody listening on the other side too!
OpenJDK is still much controlled by Oracle in various aspects, but I have the feeling that is way more open than the past and contribution, without considering the obvious technical difficulty, is way easier than it used to be.
I’m also very happy that we really started the Adoption group, and to be part of it.
Once the DevRoom closed, the discussion moved to La Manifacture, with the usual dinner, once again sponsored by Oracle and for the first time RedMonk and Canonical, which is a big welcome, and I hope we will get more contributions by them, especially in the form of talks for the next year.
One news about the Libre Dinner was that this year we experimented with the Legal DevRoom (thanks Tom for making this happen!). This gave an unique opportunity for people to discuss and get introduced, expand their contacts and do even more social networking, a great opportunity for lots of business cards exchanges if you’re into this game ;)
Pun aside, the experiment was really successful and we’ll surely do it again next time!
Overall, one of the best FOSDEM to date. And I’m already waiting forward for next year!