FOSDEM and back

After two meetings at the United Nations in Geneva I made my way to Brussels to participate in FOSDEM, which took place at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles on Saturday and Sunday.

As usual, FOSDEM was a place of great chaos and great fun. Some things have become long-established FOSDEM tradition by now, like the pre-FOSDEM beer at the Le Roy d’Espagne, or the fact that network connectivity only started to work reliably on Sunday afternoon when FOSDEM was essentially over.

As usual, the Free Software Foundation Europe had its traditional spot with three large tables bearing an impressive amount of t-shirts, including our new “Got Freedom?” Fellowship shirt. No less than 16 people, most of them volunteers, helped to make FSFE’s booth at FOSDEM 2006 a great success.

Some of them at times take days of their vacation and travel thousands of kilometers without seeing any reimbursement for their trips or hotel rooms only to spend two days talking to hundreds of people, explaining FSFE, it’s activities, the Fellowship, as well as selling t-shirts and referring people to the right points of contact for more complicate requests. The importance of this work is often underestimated, and too often does not get the praise it deserves.

Their work too often remains silently expected or accepted, and rarely gets the credit it deserves. Therefore: Thanks to all of you for what are doing, I am your biggest fan! I am truly grateful to be working with and for such a great team.

As for myself, FOSDEM was mainly spent running around and talking to many people, some of which I had not seen in a while, some I never had the chance to meet before, including the great team behind Asterisk, which I had a lot of fun with.

For monday, FSFE had been organising a media round table about software patents for which we had invited various parties in favor and against, including SAP, Microsoft and the BSA. Ultimately, only the BSA came in the person of Francisco Mingorance to argue in favor of software patents. On the other side it was planned to have Pieter Hintjens, president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, one of FSFE’s associate organisations, and myself for the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Unfortunately, I must have had some very bad luck with the famous mussels from Brussels on Sunday night. In any case, Monday morning found me in rather bad shape with all the unpleasant side effects you might imagine now, including some fever.

In the old days, I would have had to do this event regardless, and did so on previous occasions. This time however I was able to profit from the growth of FSFE’s Team: After a call to some of our people on the ground, it was clear that Ciaran O’Riordan could join the discussion in my stead. As our Brussels representative, he is intimately familiar with all the issues around software patents and such discussions are part of his regular work.

I myself made my way to the airport together with Pablo, Maria and Xavier from our Spanish Team. When I finally boarded my flight to Hamburg, I found out how much luggage you can fit into the Canadair jet, because it turns out that Liza Minelli was on the plane with her entire entourage for tonight’s concert in Hamburg.

Fortunately the flight was short and I soon arrived in Hamburg, where I now have to catch up with a mountain of paperwork, laundry and other not exactly trivial things before my next trip on Friday.

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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