best DebConf ever
For me, DebConf13 in Switzerland was a perfect DebConf, and generally an
great developer meeting and conference. I've attended several past DebConfs
in Canada, Norway, Brazil, Finland, Mexico, Scotland, Spain, NYC, Bosnia,
and Nicaragua. I have special memories of each. DebConf13 was ideal in every
Let's start with the camping. Only a minority of us did it, and my campsite
was located in a small field behind a bar that was often noisy
late into the night, when I was trying to rest and preserve
my European jetlag remedy of inverted sleeping schedule. Still, I love
sleeping cocooned in a tent, and going through the routines of camping and
spending time alone there was a good counterpoint to DebConf. I generally
find myself retreating for a day or two in the middle of a week-long
conference, burnt out with social interactions. That didn't happen this
time. I need to find way to camp at future DebConfs.
(Also special shout out to wonderful people who lent me a warmer sleeping
bag, and bought me a pillow while on a trip to town! Upgraded my first
backpacking in Europe experience's comfort level a lot!)
The next perfect thing for me were the talks I gave at DebConf.
I always enjoy presenting at DebConf, and barely remember when I'd get
nervous doing it. But I really felt comfortable giving these
talks in a way I've not before. I'm pleased with how
the Debian Cosmology
talk turned out; I'd worried it would be a downer talk, or too light,
or not well received, and none of those problems surfaced.
I was especially happy with my
session, which I prepared for all of 10 minutes and was structured entirely
to benefit me by talking over my thoughts and getting feedback, and in
which I probably drove the camerapeople crazy running my own mic into the
audience. Despite all that, I think it succeeded being interesting for the
participants as well as for me. Hope to follow up on it soon..
But beyond the two talks I submitted, there were a series of ad-hoc
scheduled talks. It seemed that every day I spent at least an hour
discussing something I'm deeply involved in. This started with the
and then there was an epic series of (unrecorded) BoFs about git stuff,
which basically turned into an unofficial git track at DebConf.
Much, much discussion of git-annex and other things I'm involved in.
BTW, I really like that DebConf, as well as being a formal conference on
top, is really an un-conference underneath, with new BoFs and things
popping up on the schedule all week long. You can even have completely
unscheduled meetings that somehow get just the right mix of people
to make something awesome happen.
But it wasn't all about talks. Indeed, I only attended 2 or 3 sessions a
day. The DebConf13 venue was controversial, but I found it excellent for
getting things done. Rather than one or two massive rooms that get too
noisy to think in, this venue had many little nooks and crannies
suited for different types of work. There were so many I only discovered
some while walking down the hill as I was leaving the venue! Anchoring it
all was the excellent view, and I particularly enjoyed the "scenic hacklab".
I was particularly impressed with the flexability of the venue's
management. Someone asked if we could have cheese for breakfast, and every
breakfast thereafter had not one but often three excellent cheeses. One day
we'd be complaining that there were not enough vegetables in the food, and
the next we'd be eating an excellent vegetarian Swiss lunch. They even
apparently relaxed stringent Swiss rules on not allowing tents in
sightlines visible from people further up the hill. They were clearly happy
to welcome our crazy gathering to Le Camp. They let a DD borrow and use a
chain saw and build a bonfire!
The venue also encouraged getting out and exploring the surrounding
countryside. Too often I end up spending the whole DebConf without seeing
much of the area around. This time I at least got down the hill to see the
castle in Vaumarcus a few times, and enjoyed many evening walks amoung the
The conference dinner (on a boat!) tied into this well too. And the daytrip
to CERN was a great addition. We got to poke around the control center for a
massive particle accellerator! My only regret is we didn't get a chance to
actually go inside the LHC tunnels.
Back to DebConf, another thing I really liked about this one was that its
location allowed several upstream authors of software in Debian (other than
the usual suspects who are both upstreams and Debian Developers) to attend.
I don't know if Lennart Poettering changed any minds about systemd with his
talk, but I was happy for the opportunity to buy him a beer. I didn't get
to Monty's talk, but it was excellent to see him attend as well.
Finally, I got to meet old friends I'd not seen in years, and new ones I've
not met in real life before. We're still not sure where this whole DebConf
thing is going -- will it be all about the cheese and wine party and
greybeards in 20 years time? But one thing we know is we enjoy our little
slice of the year where kilts and coding are equally unremarkable,
where problems that seem intractable online somehow solve themselves in
person, where we come away with ideas for an entire year and memories for a
Syndicated 2013-08-30 21:53:10 from see shy jo