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