March 2, 2023

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to join members of the Open Source community in Brussels for the return of FOSDEM. It was my first time in Brussels and I was excited to meet the broad open-source community in Belgium. For the FreeBSD Foundation, it was a great opportunity to continue to advocate for FreeBSD, and to meet FreeBSD users and developers in-person.

I was one of the many Foundation staff and community volunteers who helped staff the FreeBSD booth in the FOSDEM expo hallway. The turnout for the conference was better than I had anticipated, with thousands of attendees across the 2 days. With the hallways packed, we had a constant stream of attendees at the FreeBSD booth, handing out swag and talking with both users and potential users about the FreeBSD operating system. The crowd was diverse and many long-time FreeBSD users and developers stopped by the booth.

One side-effect of such a crowded event is that we get a bit less time with attendees, but we still managed to have meaningful discussions with many people. A benefit of conferences like FOSDEM is finally being able to put a face to many members of the community who I had virtually interacted with before. There was a wonderful moment on the first day when two FreeBSD developers realized, mid discussion, that they had already been communicating over email on the same issue.

One of the current projects that I am working on for the Foundation is an updated timeline of FreeBSD development and history. I was particularly interested when FreeBSD users came up and excitedly talked about their own experiences with early FreeBSD and BSD. I was able to confirm a few historical points that I had previously been unable to cite, as well as fix one (when soft updating was added). Because FreeBSD is driven by the community, being able to have these conversations is so crucial in order to advocate for the project.

Immediately after FOSDEM wrapped up, I headed to London to attend the new State of Open Conference, the UK’s first open technology conference. This whole trip reinforced the value of conferences as a tool to advocate for FreeBSD as well as meeting members of the FreeBSD community around the world. We’re excited to return to in-person conferences and hopefully meeting even more of you across the globe!

– Contributed by Drew Gurkowski