I planned to go to a FUDCon APAC or LATAM for some time because a lot of people told me they had a very different atmosphere from the ones in NA and EMEA and now Flock. I decided for FUDCon in Beijing this year and Jaroslav Reznik joined me. Originally, we planned it as holidays. But then the organizers asked us to do a keynote and we were invited to the Beijing office of Red Hat to do a presentation, so it wasn’t completely holidays in the end.
I must say that I was very positively surprised. The conference was very, very well organized. Co-hosting FUDCon with GNOME.Asia was also a very good idea. It attracted more people and more contributors of both projects. And it also made sense from the topic point of view because Fedora and GNOME definitely have some overlap.
We arrived on May 22 and didn’t have any problem to find the hotel mainly due to great information in the Guidebook app that was prepared by the organizers. The Beijing subway is one of the best I’ve seen and it’s extremely cheap. One unlimited ride is just for $.30! We had surprisingly big problems to communicate. Almost no one in Beijing understands English and if someone does it’s also quite challenging to communicate with him/her because the languages are so different. The Chinese characters were also a big challenge. Unlike with the Latin alphabet where you can get at least a bit of the sense even if you don’t understand the language the Chinese characters were completely untranslatable for us. Fortunately, I found an Android app Hanping Camera that scans Chinese characters and translates them to English. I also downloaded an offline vocabulary for Google Translate so that I can translate what I needed to say to someone who didn’t understand English. As I know from English-Czech translations Google Translate is not perfect, but it worked quite well. Definitely better than nothing and our Chinese language skill were really non-existent.
I met most of the attending Fedora contributors at the FUDPub. It was a nice event, but the pub didn’t have cold beer. They had everything (soft drinks, teas,…) in a fridge, only beer was outside. Quite a paradox. So after a while a bunch of Fedora contributors moved back to the hotel in need for cold beer🙂
The next day in the morning, we had our keynote. We talked on Fedora.NEXT changes. Jaroslav talked more about changes in the technologies, I was talking more about the people part of the project. Unfortunately, we probably overestimated the knowledge of attendees and I was told several times after the keynote that it might have been too complicated. Maybe we should have gone for some general topic.
I also attended several other Fedora talks such Fedora Websites by Robert Mayr, Fedora Women by Nitesh Narayanlal, Life of Translator by Tommy He, Hackfest: Packaging a ROS Groovy SCL for Fedora by Ankur Sinha. What was quite interesting was the talk “Re-rolling Fedora with Conary” by Martin Bähr. I’d never heard of Conary before, actually I had, but I didn’t know any details. There were some useful features which can be used in Fedora. Collections of packages might be useful in Rawhide where users could update to the lastest tested collection of packages and avoid breakages. On the other hand, it wouldn’t work with the way Fedora repositories are done today when you only have the initial and the latest version of a package in the repositories, nothing between. This also prevents using Conary for rollbacks. I can also see some feature overlap with OSTree although Conary seems to be more package based.
The conference was closed by a dinner for organizers and speakers in a nearby hotel and I must say it was probably the best buffet I’ve ever had at an open source conference.
On Monday, we went to the Red Hat office to give a talk on cooperation with universities and on Fedora activities. I was quite surprised that not so many redhatters are involved in the local Fedora community. It’s quite different from e.g. the Czech Republic where redhatters are the backbone of the local community. I hope our talk showed a way and at least a bit contributed to improvement.
On Tuesday, we went to the office again to give a presentation about our country. It was interesting to see that the Chinese redhatters were surprised that Škoda is actually a Czech brand, not Chinese, that we also have dumplings, but quite different from the Chinese ones, and that our country is mostly atheistic. After the presentation, we went to Beijing Linux User Group meeting which was special this time because there were still a lot of foreigners that came for FUDCon or GNOME.Asia.
From Wednesday to Sunday, we explored Beijing and its neighourhood. The temperature went up to 41C, but air conditions were apparently one of the best because there was no visible air pollution and there was even a blue sky on some days which is pretty rare according to locals.
I really want to thank local organizers who did a truly great job with FUDCon APAC in Beijing and I also want to thank the Fedora Project for sponsoring our hotel accommodation during the conference. And FUDCon APAC 2015? I think we should start thinking about it as soon as possible so that it’s as successful as this year’s one.