Augsburger Linux-Infotag: small in revenue, big in fun!

The booth team. Thanks to Myriam from KDE for taking this picture for us!

For the first time after a pause of several years, I allowed myself to enjoy my participation in FSFE’s booth in Augsburg. With a remarkable team of 7 (!) volunteers, we presented a rich assortment of information material and FSFE’s current merchandise. As we didn’t have any new merchandise items compared to last year, we sold only six T-shirts, one bag and one pen. So one could ask: was it worth having a booth there at all?

Of course it was! We don’t visit conferences for the money, we visit them for the people! And indeed, we had a lot of interesting discussions with visitors, it was great for us to meet the other volunteers at the booth (many of us hadn’t met before), and we enjoyed talking to the people of our booth neighbour KDE and all the other projects present. What made the event a very special pleasure was our really large team, which allowed for all volunteers to attend talks, go for lunch or just take a break whenever they wanted, always being sure that others are there to hold the fort meanwhile. Personally, I enjoyed being part of this team, meeting smart and enthusiastic people, and having a lot of fun with them!


FOSDEM 2017 was the 16th time the event took place under that name, it was the 16th FOSDEM where FSFE had a booth, and it was the 16th FOSDEM I visited. Hoever, after I had more and more reduced my participation in the actual FSFE booth team during the past years, this year I had the honor of being the main booth coordinator. And with the great team I had at my side, this wasn’t only a honor, it also was a great pleasure.

Packing stuff to be sent to Brussels

In the preparation phase, the question how to best transport 24 boxes of merchandise and information material from Berlin to Brussels became an interesting challenge, and two days before the actual event, a communication problem with the shipping company provided quite some thrill to us, but in the end, everything worked out just fine.

Preparing information material and merchandise

The event itself was record breaking for FSFE in many respects:

First of all, I think there never were so many FSFE people at FOSDEM, either at the booth, having talks, or just being busy in meetings the whole day. In total, I counted 19 people involved in FSFE’s presence at FOSDEM in one way or another, from duty at the booth to 2 days full of meetings, from having FSFE as one of several affiliations to just being 100% FSFE representative, from being an employee of FSFE or an intern to pure volunteer engagement, from seeing FOSDEM for the first time to being a regular visitor for years.

The next point where I was really impressed was the information material we distributed. When I saw the huge box that our interns Fernando and Olga had packed for FOSDEM, I immediately thought that this is way too much. I was wrong. Among others, we distributed, for example, about 4000 “There is NO CLOUD” stickers. As expected, most people at FOSDEM already knew about our work and our campaigns, but many took stickers, flyers, and postcards with them to distribute at their university, local hackerspace, or other place. We noticed many people are surprised that all this information material is for free, and some just couldn’t believe that we’ll send that stuff across Europe or even the world at no cost.

The FOSDEM booth team at work

This leads to our merchandise. At this FOSDEM, we sold more merchandise than ever before at any event in the history of FSFE. Among others, we sold the insane number of 405 T-shirts, 89 bags, 63 hoodies, and 45 baby rompers. At the same time, we managed to sell off some of the older items, and even though we didn’t get rid of anything we’d have wanted to, we did a big step in our stock cleanup efforts. Still, some selloff items are still left and can be ordered at our merchandise order page, so especially if you wear size “S”, have a look at that page if you want to make a bargain!

On Saturday evening, we had a meetup in a bar where everybody interested had the chance to meet the FSFE executive team and have a beer and a chat together. The meeting was very well visited, but we’ve received some feedback that the environment in the bar was too loud, so we probably will look for a better suited place next year.

After successful sales: a lot of empty boxes...

My personal résumé? I haven’t had so much fun at FOSDEM for many years. I want to explicitly thank everybody who participated in the booth work. And quite a few times I thought back to the good old days, 10 years and more ago, when I manned FSFE’s booth at FOSDEM together with Volker, who was a very active volunteer in the earliest FSFE years, before his priorities shifted to job and family. Volker, I miss you!

The classic and the newcomer

Believe it or not: it was more than 11 years ago, at FOSDEM 2005, that FSFE presented the first T-shirt with the slogan “Hacking for Freedom” – a slogan back then coined by FSFE’s first intern, Matthias Kirschner. Matthias came to stay, and so did the slogan: “Hacking for Freedom” has become the most-selling T-shirt in FSFE’s history, produced in numerous batches, and in a total of 5 versions: in 2008, we removed the white collar (on popular request), at around the same time we added a female cut version, some years later we switched all of our newly produced T-shirts to fair-trade and organic sources, and finally, in 2015, we added a grey female-cut one.

Exactly 10 years later, at FOSDEM 2015, FSFE introduced the first merchandise item with the slogan “There is NO CLOUD, just other people’s computers”. As there already were many different series of T-shirts being offered at that time, it was decided to print the new slogan on a bag. Ironically, the most heard feedback about that bag was: “I want that on a T-shirt”… So it didn’t take long until the first T-shirts were procuced, and meanwhile you can order that slogan on FSFE’s online order page in seven different variants: as unisex T-shirt in black, red, green, blue, and burgundy, as female cut T-shirt in black, and of course as the original bag.

“Hacking for Freedom” as the timeless classic, or “There is NO CLOUD” as the successful newcomer: get your favourite T-shirt online or at the next Free Software event in your area!

Tübix 2016: been there, and enjoyed it!

FSFE booth at Tübix 2016After the first Tübix in 2015, where FSFE has not yet been present, a lot of people recommended to us that we should be present there, too, in the next year. So this year, Björn and myself thought we’d give it a try. Together with our newly joined volunteer Daniel, we had a booth at Tübix 2016, which took place on 11 June in the rooms of University Tübingen.

We found Tübix very nice and well organised. It generally is very much focussed on talks (there were only three boths at the whole event), but that wasn’t really bad for us, because this brought more people to our booth :-). This year, I noticed too late that there is a whole bunch of social events around Tübix, so I didn’t plan any of them, but next year I certainly will.

We are already looking forward to coming again next year!

Software Freedom Day in Austria

Some Fellows in Austria celebrated the Software Freedom Day by making themselves visible at public places and informing about Free Software, FSFE and the Fellowship.

I did this in Dornbirn, together with a few other people from different organisations (like Wikipedia). It was quite nice and we had some good conversations with interested passersby.

Eric Poscher from the net.culture.lab, who has actually organised the whole thing, has put some pictures online.

There also was some similar activity in Vienna, and I hope that one of the people who were there will also put some pictures online and blog about this soon. (Hint, Hint!)