Friday, November 30, 2012

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Gabor Pali

The next trip report is from Gabor Pali:

This year the FreeBSD Foundation helped me with travelling to EuroBSDcon organized in Warsaw, Poland, in the beautiful building of the Warsaw University of Technology.  It is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow developers in person and discuss some of the on-going issues or just to hang out somewhere in a nice European city while drinking some fine local beer.

Similar to the previous years, I volunteered to organize and lead the ssociated FreeBSD Developer Summit (overlapping with the tutorials) and chair the Developer Summit Track at the main conference.  This was my third time as a "remote organizer", and thanks to Pawel Jakub Dawidek and the student volunteers at the Warsaw Univesity of Technology, everything went smooth, resulting in a productive summit.  I tried to improve the format learned from the BSDCan developer summit organizers, and offer the visiting developers a way to exploit their time spent together well.

Besides taking care of the usual organization tasks, I also had some time to actively participate in some of the sessions during the summit. For example, I shared my experiences earned in teaching university courses from a practical aspect at the "Teaching FreeBSD as a University Course" group, lead by Benedict Reuschling.  I think one could manage to find complete but not-that-complicated real-life examples in the source code that could serve as a demonstration tool to introduce problems and their potential solutions.  This motivates students as they can see what causes headaches to the FreeBSD developers and how they try to resolve issues.  As a special guest for this session, Pawel brought Andrzej Tobola, a lecturer from the University, who has been using FreeBSD for a long time and he uses it for teaching. He provided us with interesting feedback.

Again, similar to previous years, I managed to put a schedule together for the Developer Summit Track as part of EuroBSDcon 2012.  It featured brief summaries of the working group leaders, so the conference visitors could see what is planned in the FreeBSD Project these days. But we also had many interesting talks on many of the work-in-progress projects:  the XML transition in the documentation source tree, the plans for the new ports building infrastructure, and the presentations of some of our Google Summer of Code students from this year.  I joined as well and gave a presentation on the project I did at the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory during the summer. This featured the FreeBSD port of the Mirage network stack, which is written in OCaml.

From the conference, Dan Langille's inspiring talk comes to my mind: he decided to reveal his secrets on how he organizes the premier BSD conference in Canada, BSDCan.  I am glad that he did so and finally made it to Europe to see how his competitors are doing. I found his presentation very useful as it perfectly supported the experiences  I have earned so far.

I really enjoyed the developer summit and the associated dinners, as well as the conference and the city itself.  I think the fellow organizers did their best to bring the spirit of the European BSD Conferences to Warsaw -- and do not forget that this was also made possible with the help of its gold sponsor, the FreeBSD Foundation.  Every donation to the Foundation helps us to maintain the tradition of such a great conference.

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