Fedora Day @ DevConf.cz 2015

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DevConf.cz is the largest developer conference devoted to Red Hat related technologies (Linux, JBoss, OpenShift, OpenStack,…). This year, there were around 1000 attendees which is a sizable number for a deeply technical conference. Because we were hitting the capacity limits of the venue, we decided to move the event to a different university campus which offers more rooms – FIT BUT. For those who attended GUADEC 2013: it’s the same venue.

The next DevConf.cz will span three days again – February 6-8th. And like this year we’d like to make the last day a Fedora Day. I think the Fedora Day was a success this year. Matthew Miller delivered his FPL’s keynote on Fedora.Next, representatives of working groups spoke about their progress, and there was overall an interesting discussion about the direction Fedora was taking. Not counting Flock, DevConf.cz is a conference with the largest number of Fedora contributors, so why not to use it for discussions, planning, and hacking?

I’m also in talks with the CentOS guys whether they want to join us for the Fedora Day and make it a Fedora & CentOS Day. I think there are quite a few topics the two projects can discuss.

DevConf.cz’s CfP has been on for some time and will be open till Dec 1st. If you have an interesting topic for a talk, workshop, or hackfest, submit it. And even if you don’t, consider attending. I assure you that you will enjoy the conference. You will have a chance to attend a lot of Fedora-related talks and meet many interesting people from the project.

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Flock: Behind the Scenes 3

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I’ve got another set of updates from the Flock organization for you:

Flock apps for BB10 and SailfishOS – Jaroslav Řezník has created a mobile app for those who are using Blackberry 10 system (is there anyone out there?). The Jolla phone and its SailfishOS has been quite popular among open source geeks. If you have one, check out an app that was created by Jozef Mlích. It’s available in the OpenRepos. So together with the Android app, I wrote about in the first article, we already have three apps. I’m also working on an offline guide for Guidebook.com.

Social events – we finally made a decision about social events (what, where, when). There will be one on Wednesday and the main one will be on Thursday. We’re also thinking about organizing an unofficial kind of gathering in some pub on Tuesday where you can come to meet others after you arrive to Prague and get accommodated.

Printouts – Sirko Kemter is working on conference booklets. The last thing he was missing was information about social events which is now solved. Ryan Lerch has prepared badges. They will be from the same vendor as last year, produced in the U.S. and brought to Prague. We’re looking for a volunteer who would help us with navigation signs and mainly schedules we will post on doors of lecture rooms.

And some tips for the promised section “Getting ready for the trip to Flock”:

  • Money – I’ve already been asked by several people what currency they should bring to the Czech Republic. Believe or not even though the Czech Republic is a member of the EU we don’t have euro. Our currency is Czech crown (CZK). Would you like to get more familiar with the Czech coins and bills? Download a mobile app release by The Czech National Bank. It will show you all details and security measurements.  You won’t make a mistake if you bring euros or US dollars because these are the most widely accepted foreign currencies in exchange offices. Euro is even accepted in some stores, restaurants, or gas stations. GBP or CHF are also fine while not as common as € or $. You’ll be able to exchange other currencies, too, but you most likely will get worse exchange rates. Payment cards (Mastercard, VISA) are quite widely accepted and if you need cash you can get it from ATMs which are at every corner. So I recommend you bring just little cash with you from home. And prices? The Czech Republic is a fairly cheap country. You can check a list of price samples by expact.cz or prices for tourists in Prague by PriceOfTravel.com.
  • Language – believe or not the language of the Czech Republic is not English (I met several people in Asia who were surprised that English is not the (only) native language in Europe), it’s… surprise, surprise… Czech. Czech is a West Slavic language which is very similar to Slovak, fairly similar to Polish and Slovenian, and only remotely similar to Russian and other East Slavic languages. I heard that some of Flock attendees’ve started learning Czech to make a nice touch while communicating with locals. Czech is said to be difficult, but read tips by an Irish polyglot who learned Czech in just 2 months and says it’s not difficult at all! The most common foreign language is English. Almost all people under 30 have learned it at primary and secondary school, but only 10% of the population rate their English proficiency as good. The second most common language is German. It used to compete with English for the status of the first foreign language, but has been completely ran over by English in the recent years, but is still the second foreign language at most schools. Other common foreign languages are French, Spanish, and Italian, but they have much fewer speakers here than English and German. Russian was a mandatory language at schools before 1989, but this language won’t help you much in the Czech Republic nowadays unfortunately. Most people who learned it don’t remember it any more because they learned it because they had to, not because they wanted to, and they never really practiced it.

I’m going to GUADEC 2014!

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I’m going to GUADEC 2014 in Strasbourg! Last year, I was one of the organizers and I planned to enjoy this year’s GUADEC just as an ordinary attendee. But I assigned myself at least some job. I’ll be covering the conference for Fedora Magazine.

I’m looking forward to meeting other Fedora guys there!

Flock: Behind the Scenes 2

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Last week I decided to blog about things from the organization of Flock 2014, so that you can see what’s going on “behind the scenes”. Today, I’ve got another set of things that may be interesting or useful for Flock attendees:

Registration – some of you have noticed that the pre-registration on the conference website is closed and you cannot register for Flock any more. I wasn’t directly involved in spinning off the registration and setting the deadline, but I suppose it’s because of planning. The whole pre-registration is mainly for planning purposes. We needed to know how many people would attend, so that we could plan social events, lunches, t-shirt production. Of course, we have to leave ourselves some time and can’t wait till the beginning of the conference. All the mentioned things are currently planned for 250 ppl. The number of attendees registered has pretty much reached that. Of course, you can attend Flock even though you’re not registered, it’s free and open to attend, but we can’t promise that you’ll get a t-shirt, lunches, and tickets to the party.

Problems with visas – some sponsored attendees reported problems with getting a Schengen visa.  That resulted in rebooking flights which put even more pressure on our limited budget for this year’s Flock. Ruth Suehle started a discussion on the flock-planning mailing list about how to avoid such situations in the future. There have been several suggestions. Examples how other projects have solved it. Some people even suggested that we should not sponsor people fully next time. Frankly, the Fedora Project has been quite generous at his covering both travel costs and accommodation even at the cost of additional rebooking. When we organized the Flock Sponsorship Program for EMEA we set the limit to $200 and told ppl that they could apply if they think the amount would help them. Travel itinerary and lodging options are their business.

Cool Guide to Prague – one of my colleagues pointed me to a very interesting guide to Prague (and not only to Prague, it’s a Europe-wide project). It’s called USE-IT and it offers a map of the city with recommended points of interest, Czech phrases, pieces of advice how to act “like a local”. All put in a fun way. We’d like to give away printed versions at the conference, but you can check it out already now and learn something in advance ;)

In one of the future posts, I will share other tips and sources of useful information with you, so that you can get ready for your trip to Flock.

Event Report: LinuxTag 2014

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This year, I again went to Berlin to help staff the Fedora booth at LinuxTag 2014. It was on a short notice because I didn’t plan to attend since I’m going to FUDCon APAC later this month and can’t miss more at work. But because the event was on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and Thursday was a holiday in the Czech Republic it was only about missing one day and I decided to go.

LinuxTag changed a lot this year. My first edition was 2011 when the event was still huge. But it has been declining. Last year’s edition already looked pretty empty and the organizers decided to make big changes. Frankly I have mixed feelings from the changes. The event has moved from a large exhibition area Messe Berlin to Old Postal Office. The exhibition part has shrunk significantly, not necessarily due to the lack of interest of exhibitors. At Messe Berlin, we always had a large proper booth space. This year, we ended up in a space with just a bunch of tables and chairs which had to be shared by 6 or so open source projects. We shared a hall with a talk area which was separated from us just by a thin wall that went just half way up to the ceiling, so we were disturbing the talks and the talks were disturbing us.

LinuxTag was co-located with other two conferences: Re:publica (pretty much a conference for hipsters) and DroidCon. That was a good move because we could also target a different audience and make some outreach and we definitely had much more visitors at our booth who had no clue what Fedora is. Unfortunately, co-hosting it with other two conferences meant that LinuxTag, which traditionally was in late May, had been moved to early May and conflicted with another bigger German-speaking event – LinuxWochen. It caused problems to us because we had to split forces and I guess it also affected the attendance a bit. What was definitely a good move was to shorten the conference from four days to three. Spending four days at a booth talking to people just very exhausting and three days are just enough.

I also missed the community-backed catering from past editions. Booth personnel and speakers always had a backroom where they could sit down and have a drink or meal prepared by the organizers. This year, the catering was prepared by a company, you had to wait in long lines, there were no free drinks except for water, and there was no room to consume it. There was also no social event if you don’t count people standing outside the venue and buying beer from stands as a party.

Attendance was definitely smaller than the last year. I think it was mainly due to the price was really high (>€150). There was a community day on the last day of the event when the admission was much lower which is why we expected crowds on the last day. But that didn’t happen and the venue was just lightly fuller than the first two days.

And the Fedora booth? We were not such a big magnet as last year when we brought a 3D printer, but we managed to talk to many people, give away almost all swag and exchange contacts with several interesting persons.

I hope next year of LinuxTag will be better than this year and also that our booth will again be more attractive. If it’s again co-located with Re:publica and DroidCon I’d love to prepare a booth that targets at their audience (what Fedora can offer in terms of security and privacy and that it could be a great Android development platform).

I’d like to thank the Fedora Project for sponsoring my travel and stay in Berlin and Christoph Wickert for organizing the booth and accommodation for us.

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For the whole conference, we had a company of a cute Prague Ratter, a maskot of OpenMandriva which was next to us.

DevConf.cz 2014

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Developer Conference 2014 is finally over. The last two weeks were damn busy for me. Just a week before the conference I went to FOSDEM and it wasn’t just attending. I organized a bus with 40 hackers between Brno and Brussels, accommodation for 6 Fedora people, and pretty much the whole Fedora booth at FOSDEM + producing 400 t-shirts for CentOS guys and bringing a lot of other stuff from Brno for various parties. When I returned I didn’t have time to rest because DevConf.cz was just a few days away. This in a combination with very little sleep meant that I had a complete physical meltdown on Wednesday. Not only was I dead tired, but I also got some flu/cold. Then I just focused on surviving till DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I just couldn’t simply back off. So I just worked and slept and removed all stuffing between it and it worked :)

We put DevConf.cz just one week after FOSDEM which as I described above almost killed me. But it also had a lot of benefits. Most importantly, people from overseas could come for both events and spend the week between on internal Red Hat meetings in Brno. And a lot of people did. I wondered how many attendees would come this year. Last year, it was around 700, but quite a lot of publicity on the Internet and people mentioning the conference indicated it could be much more this year which could be a problem because the venue is not very large and half of the campus is under reconstruction.

And we did have a lot of attendees. The number from DevConf.cz 2013 was exceeded within two hours and the total number of attendees for the first day was nearly 900. The total number of unique attendees for all three days was around 1000 which was a significant increase from the last year. Especially on Friday, we were hitting the capacity of the venue. Several talks were completely packed. For example the ones about Docker and OSTree where you couldn’t even get into the room if you came too late. I didn’t attend many talks and when I found time to attend one I was usually called back by an urgent problem. Nevertheless, the general feedback I heard from other people was that the talks had even better quality than last year. I really liked the Fedora Day which was the third day of the conference. This attracted a lot of people from the Fedora community and I could actually meet maybe more Fedora contributors at DevConf.cz than at Flock.

I can’t rate DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I’m biased, but from the organizer’s perspective the event went quite smoothly which was mainly due to tireless help of dozens of volunteers without whom the event wouldn’t be possible and I thank them for that.

And DevConf.cz 2015? I’m already thinking about that. We improve the event incrementally based on feedback from attendees to make the event better every year. Some of the proposed changes such as making the talk slots shorter to have longer breaks worked very well and we’ve already gathered new ideas for the next year. We also will have to assess the venue. The cooperation with the university is almost ideal, the location is also very good, but if we want to accommodate even more attendees next year we’ll have to have more space. The reconstruction will be finished in summer and then there should be mid-sized rooms for smaller talk or workshop tracks available. We will see. The only significantly larger venue in Brno is The Brno Exhibition Area which would be a huge cost jump up and I still find university campuses more appropriate for developer’s events.

P.S. Videos of talks from the three main tracks will be online within a few weeks. We’re working on it.

Talk on Docker (© Sirko Kemter)

DevConf.cz 2014 schedule is out!

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Last week, we published a schedule of Developer Conference 2014 that is going to take place in Brno on Feb 7-9th and I finally found time to write about it. The schedule looks IMHO very promising. There are around 100 speakers of 18 nationalities that will deliver 68 talks and 30 workshops and labs from 14 topics: cloud, databases, desktop, developer, Fedora, kernel, networking, security, server, software quality, storage, userspace, virtualization. The conference has been expanded into three days. The first two will be standard conference days packed with talks and workshops. The third day is devoted to Fedora. There will be Fedora-related talks in the morning and planning sessions and hackfests in the afternoon. BTW we still have available slots in the afternoon, so if you’d like to organize a session or hackfest, let us know.

But DevConf.cz won’t only be about talks and workshops. We’re also preparing a DevConf.cz party that will again be in the Fléda club. And there will also be a city tour with a great Canadian guide on Friday. And there are still more things in the works.

We have a special rate for conference participants in Avanti Hotel (and this time also in A Sport Hotel), but there are just a few left, so if you still don’t have accommodation, don’t hesitate.

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