FOSDEM and FOSDEM PGDay 2024 Review

Posted by ads on Friday, 2024-02-16
Posted in [Events][Pgug-Europe][Postgresql-News]

FOSDEM 2024 in Brussels is history, and as always it was a good event and nice trip to Belgium.

PostgreSQL Europe did organize a PGDay on Friday before FOSDEM. In addition we had a stand at the main FOSDEM event, and a Devroom on Sunday.

The FOSDEM weekend in early February, or sometimes late January, is a fixed point in our event calendar every year. Usually it’s one of the first events in the year, sometimes smaller events like Meetups take place beforehand. It is definitely the largest event for us - PostgreSQL Europe - during the year! We like coming here, it’s a unique opportunity to talk with users of the PostgreSQL Database, meet friends and colleagues, learn about other projects, get new inspiration, enjoy the misty Brussels weather and for sure enjoy the restaurants in the evening.

What is FOSDEM

FOSDEM stands for Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting and is a large convention of users and developers interested in free and open source software. The event took place for the 25th time in 2024, while the events in 2021 and 2022 took only place online.

Imagine a very large conference with all kinds of interesting topics, and talks going on in parallel. 29 tracks in parallel. In addition to the talks you can visit 58 project stands and get the latest news from every project. Don’t forget to get the merchandise you really want to have.

It’s a very unique experience.

FOSDEM PGDay

Before and after FOSDEM, an ever-growing number of projects run their own events. They are all listed on the Fringe Website. You won’t believe how complicated it is to book a venue around that weekend. This year the conference took place in the Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place.

Welcome to FOSDEM PGDay 2024
Welcome to FOSDEM PGDay 2024

PostgreSQL Europe organizes a one-day one-track event on Friday, the FOSDEM PGDay. This is embedded into the general FOSDEM event, our Call for Papers is open and we ask speakers if they can present either on the PGDay or in the Devroom. The PGDay is not free, although we keep the costs low in order to attract a larger number of people, some who might only be interested in this conference and might not go to FOSDEM.

This event allows us to split talks based on audience. While the crowd at FOSDEM is more general, and we have to expect and cater to a broad range of interests, we know that attendees of the Friday PGDay are interested in more in-depth talks.

Talks like “Advanced SQL” or Migration topics are in general better suited for the PGDay, whereas database optimization, clustering or high availability are more suited for the Devroom.

The atmosphere in the hotel allows for other activities. Usually a number of hallway talks take place. And for a couple of years, the PostgreSQL Chess Club meets in the hallway as well.

The PostgreSQL Chess Club, playing a game of chess - Picture by Floor Drees
The PostgreSQL Chess Club, playing a game of chess - Picture by Floor Drees

Social

Stand

FOSDEM offers selected projects a stand in one of four areas. For many years now, the PostgreSQL Project is present with said stand, and we use this to get in touch with our user base. Anyone can come by and ask us questions, there’s always someone at the stand who can either answer the open questions, or find someone else who might have an answer, or simply help with instructions where one can find more help.

We use this stand to sell some merchandise. This year we had:

  • Hoodies: these are new, we first had them for PGConf.EU 2023 in Prague last year and they have been very popular. Altough the boxes are very bulky, we decided to bring them to Brussels - and you love them.
  • Plush Elephants: the small Slonik is very popular, and no matter how many we bring, they are always gone in no time. Promise that we will have more!
  • T-Shirts: just a few, we plan to have more next year.
  • Small Umbrellas: this kind of merchandise really depends on the weather - if it’s raining outside, you all love them. This year we had good weather though. How about you are prepared and store one umbrella in your backpack, or car?
  • Caps: Timeless clothing, with a cute elephant on it.

And of course stickers! Everyone loves stickers for their devices. Tell us which merchandise you like, or what merch you want to see next year.

PostgreSQL Stand @ FOSDEM
PostgreSQL Stand @ FOSDEM

We also had a laptop on the table, which most of the time was running the very nice Humans of PostgreSQL - FOSDEM 2024 presentation. Thanks to Julian Markwort for the idea and Chris Ellis for the presentation. When not showing the presentation, we used said laptop to play Kahoot games - where even seasoned PostgreSQL people can learn something new. Thanks to Boriss Mejías for designing the games, and doing test-runs with his colleagues.

All in all the stand is a great way to get in touch with PostgreSQL people. And on occasion you get to meet Slonik in real life!

Slonik in front of the PostgreSQL stand - Picture by Julian Markwort
Slonik in front of the PostgreSQL stand - Picture by Julian Markwort

Social

Devroom

FOSDEM offers a Devroom to selected projects. That is a university lecture room where the project does manage the content. Our task is to create a schedule and select interesting talks for this day.

Sign pointing to the PostgreSQL Devroom
Sign pointing to the PostgreSQL Devroom

We had the Devroom on Sunday. There is always a bit of discussion whether we should prefer Saturday or Sunday, both days have advantages and disadvantages. While the conference starts later on Saturday, talks can go longer into the evening. However then finding a dinner place becomes a problem. On Sunday, talks start earlier, however people leave earlier to get to the train station or to the airport in order to get home. We created a schedule with 8 - hopefully - interesting talks. And in the end, we have no choice: FOSDEM assigns the room and the day.

Full PostgreSQL Devroom - Picture by Pavlo Golub
Full PostgreSQL Devroom - Picture by Pavlo Golub

Talks, Videos & Slides

Even if you did not manage to find a seat in one of the Devrooms, FOSDEM is recording all talks. If you go to the website of the talk, you find the recording there.

The recordings for the PostgreSQL Devroom are all reviewed and published by now, you can find them here. The talks from the PGDay on Friday are not recorded, however we asked the speakers to upload their slides.

PGDay on Friday

Devroom on Sunday

Weather

The weather in Brussels in February is never really good. I don’t understand why they don’t move the event to more pleasant weather ;-)

However this year we have been quite lucky, it was never really strong rain, more like a bit of drizzle from time to time. This makes it easier to go out to the food trucks and get lunch, which is really unpleasant if there is strong rain. On the other hand, we didn’t sell as many PostgreSQL umbrellas, so there’s that.

Restaurants

In the evening, we go out and find dinner somewhere. During FOSDEM weekend there is a good chance that you see people from other open source projects in the same restaurant. Also if you have more than a few people in your group, make a reservation well in advance.

And because we always try to remember where we’ve been last time, here’s the list of restaurants from this year.

February 1st

On thursday evening we went to the La Caneva.

Address: Rue des Grands Carmes Rue des Grands Carmes, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

February 2nd

For lunch I went with junior to Black & White Burger

Address: Bd Anspach 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium


In the evening we had dinner at: Le Bistro - Porte de Hal

That’s the place where we’ve been last year already. A bit crowd together, but alright all in all.

Address: Bd de Waterloo 138, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Proof


Afterwards we walked to the Little Delirium, to meet some friends there.

Address: Rue du Marché aux Fromages 9, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Along the way we found a few Stolpersteine, and I took pictures for future blog postings.

February 3rd

We had dinner in Le Cirio.

Address: Rue de la Bourse 18, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

That place is right around the corner from the hotel, and we thought it will be a quick dinner and we can go to bed early. Instead we waited forever for the waiter, waited forever to order food, waited forever to get our food, waited forever to order dessert, waited forever to get the dessert, waited forver to tell the waiter that we want the check. You get the picture, we spent an ungodly long time at this place.

Proof


A group of people went to KaraFun Brussel in the evening, and judging by the videos had a lot of fun.

February 4th

Based on the experience from yesterday evening, where we waited forever, and because everyone was tired, we wanted a quick dinner. We found Manhattn’s Burgers, which has a delicions choice of burgers, and was really quick with order and delivery.

Address: Rue Henri Maus 39, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

After about 30 minutes we completed the dinner, and were now in dire need of dessert!


This we found in the form of ice cream, nearby at La Gaufrerie.

Address: Rue au Beurre 21, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Proof


Finally we had to make a stop at the Hard Rock Cafe Brussels, but not for food, just for the shop.

Address: Grand Place 12A, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Social

Before, during and after FOSDEM there is plenty of buzz on social media, you can follow the more common hashtags (#FOSDEM, #FOSDEMPGDay, #PGDay, #FOSDEM2024) on your favorite social media platform. And don’t forget the accounts and hashtags of your favorite open source projects.

Retro

We had our own retro meeting after FOSDEM. Some of the things we learned:

  • Hoodies are very popular, but bulky. We need to improve the handling next year.
  • We need a digital inventory of available merchandise items.
  • A couple of small ideas how to improve the Devroom.
  • We need to split up our volunteer schedule even more. Not that easy with around 40 people.
  • We need better descriptions for volunteer tasks, especially for new volunteers.
  • More t-shirts.
  • More stickers, especially more hex stickers!
  • More coffee!

FOSDEM has their own opening and closing talk, with plenty of statisitics. It’s no longer possible to identify the number of devices, likely because of MAC Address Randomization in WiFi.

Our own social media postings can be found here on our website.

Thank you

I’d like to say Thank You to everyone who helped organizing FOSDEM, and the PostgreSQL presence there:

  • The team organizing the PostgreSQL presence
  • The many speakers for submitting a talk, and presenting it
  • The around 40 volunteers helping through the weekend, with all kind of tasks
  • Floor Drees, Julian Markwort and Pavlo Golub for the pictures, also all the other people who took pictures and shared them
  • The FOSDEM organizers and volunteers for making this event happen
  • … and everyone I forgot to mention here

Other postings about FOSDEM

A couple of other people blog postings about FOSDEM 2024:

I wrote two other postings before FOSDEM 2024, about FOSDEM 2024:

Back in 2018 I wrote a blog posting How we manage the PostgreSQL FOSDEM devroom, which I probably should update at some point.

See you next year!

Slonik sitting on a bench next to a large #BXL sign in Brussels
Slonik sitting on a bench next to a large #BXL sign in Brussels



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