Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2019: report
As discussed in my report on FOSDEM, I enjoy going to tech conferences. I find a very effective way of meeting old acquaintances and friends, making new ones, learning about the latest technologies and applications. For the German speaking countries, the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (hereafter CLT) is a well-known event. According to the website, about 3.500 attend the event, and I count about 100 lectures, in addition to many side events.
This year, it was held on 16 and 17 March (Saturday and Sunday) and I attended. This report will discuss some general observations, the volunteering that I did and what the other things that I saw.
As the name would suggest, the conference is held in Chemnitz, in Saxony, quite far to the East of the country, between Leipzig and Dresden.
Contrary to FOSDEM, this conference charges an entry fee (free for volunteers and speakers though). Also, I don’t think this is a very suitable conference if you don’t speak German at all. Although there are some talks in English and of course most people speak English, it’s all very much geared towards a German speaking audience. It also means that the international atmosphere that I value so much at FOSDEM is missing here. In the absence of a special volunteer shirt, there are no random people walking up to you and thanking you for your efforts.
The entire conference is held in the Central Lecture and Seminar Building of the Technical University of Chemnitz. It’s a nice bulding, and it is very convenient to have all the activities in one building. Parking was a bit of an issue, but within a few 100 metres from the venue I found free parking on the street.
There is a food stall/canteen upstairs, serving simple food and there is a small “VIP Room” for volunteers. In the VIP Room, you can go and pick up some snacks, or just mingle. Outside are some food trucks. Unlike FOSDEM there is no ‘volunteer force’, so you can’t jump any queues just by virtue of being a volunteer.
The talks (or lectures) are published in this overview. All talks are also recorded on video, it is published next to the talk on the overview.
As you can probably make out from the programme, I volunteered at this event too. I decided to moderate two sets of sessions, the Community Track and the Infrastructure track. This meant that I had to welcome and introduce the speakers, take care that everything ran smoothly organise the Q&A sessions at the end. At FOSDEM you pick single sessions, at CLT you commit to entire ‘tracks’, 3+ hours of talks back-to-back.
It all went well, although two afternoons was probably too much. One day would have been enough because it would have allowed me to attend more talks myself. Nevertheless, I got to hear some very interesting talks, and as an experiment, I properly introduced all speakers. This (I find) is usually something that’s missing at other events, and an small introduction helps to audience to quiet down and makes it easier for the speaker. The biggest problem I found is that with this many talks, there is no time to prepare between the announcements.
Although all of the talks were interesting in their own right, I particularly enjoyed Benjamin Block’s talk on IBM’s z/OS and the hardware it runs on. Truly fascinating stuff. All the talks also gave some ideas about things that I perhaps could talk about - something to keep in mind and to develop for next year I guess.
No DevRooms or Birds of a Feather rooms in Chemnitz, but there are plenty of Add-ons. A PGP-Keysigning Event, a Release Party for Knoppix (a Linux Distro specialising on live-CDs), Linux surgeries, an amateur radio station and soldering workshops were among them. I had a quick look at the radio station and the electronics workshops, and I snapped a quick picture of the electronic projects on offer:
In the big central hall, you can find the stands of projects, Linux distributions (*BSD was present too!), book shops and there are quite a few companies present as well. Some companies have hardware to sell, others are looking for new staff.
Particularly interesting was the stand of the Free Software Foundation Europe. They had some very good staff and on hand and took their time to answer all questions that visitors had. Also, there are very comprehensive documents on the advantages of free software, and why it is important for software that is developed for public use to be made available. Very good point. If you want to learn more about this campaign, you can go to the accompanying website - publiccode.eu. You can order campaign material for free, although I am sure that they would appreciate a small contribution in return.
I also enjoyed meeting Mike Saunders of the Document Foundation, and the organisation behind LibreOffice and the Document Liberation Project, which unites many software developers from around the world in providing conversion tools from proprietary formats in open formats. It turns out that Mike even developed his own operating system, MikeOS!
As an illustration, here you can see the stand of the Smart-SARAH project for home automation, all based on open standards and open architecture.
CLT was an interesting event, and I found it well worth being a volunteer, although perhaps a next time not two afternoon sessions again. Given the opportunity, I would definitely attend again. Possibly as a speaker even, that would be nice.
Open Source lives on contributions of all types… programmers, documentation, organisation, whatever. Every contribution counts, and perhaps more importantly, everything is valued too. I have therefore been making it a point to attend such conferences whenever I can. The next opportunity for me is FrOSCon in August, in Bonn (Germany). Perhaps just as a visitor, not a volunteer, this time. We’ll see.
All pictures are available in full resolution here: