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FOSDEM 2016 & Brussels Trip

Trip to Brussels

Hence most of our customers come from United States, United Kingdom and Germany we travel quite a lot to meet with our business partners. This time I flew to Brussels, Belgium to meet with one of our Los Angeles clients and take part in FOSDEM, a widely recognized conference for open source developers.


FOSDEM is an annual event for software developers taking place in Brussels since 2000. Its aim is to promote the awareness and use of free and open source software. The event itself is free and organized by volunteers – “by the community for the community”. It creates the space for developers to meet each other, get informed about the latest developments in the free and open source area, and attend lectures by committers and project leaders on a variety of topics.

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FOSDEM January 2016

Over 5000 hackers (actually during the first day of the conference around 7900!) attended 600+ events in 28 rooms, among others lectures, hacking sessions, open discussions and lightning talks. There were 569 speakers, and 52 tracks organized by topic. Participants of FOSDEM had also the chance to take certification during the conference.


Talks and topics

If you couldn’t make it to be there most of the slides you will find at FOSDEM official page Some of the lectures I particularly remember:

  • Lennart Poettering “systemd and Where We Want to Take the Basic Linux Userspace in 2016” was about the future of systemd in various linux distributions and problems/issues with getting there. It looks like it’s quite complicated to manage consistency among various distros.
  • Jorge Villalobos “Building add-ons for Firefox with Web-Extensions” discussed the motivation behind the move to WebExtensions and its code structure.
  • Dominig ar Foll “Security in IoT; more a cultural chock than a technical challenge” focused on how to create secure IoT device without increasing the complexity of development.
  • Stéphane Wirtel “Exploring our Python Interpreter” showed how CPython works especially for new contributors.
  • Erik Janssens “Camelot for desktop and mobile” explained the building blocks of Camelot library in Python.
  • Benoit Chesneau “Gunicorn, more than a WSGI server” explained why Python is a good choice for developing software e.g. decentralized social networks.
  • Dave Neary “How to run a telco on free software” looked at transformations in telecommunications industry and what makes up an NFV stack in OPNFV.
  • Martin Michlmayr “Ian Murdock. In Memoriam” was a Debian community tribute to its founder.
  • Carsten Agger “Baobáxia – the Galaxy of Baobab Trees” described the community-built project connecting about 200 offline Afro-Brazilian communities with free software to assist the preservation of their traditional culture.
  • Blake Girardot “Putting 8 Million People on the Map: Revolutionizing crisis response through open mapping tools”, which has been my favourite talk, discussed the open source mapping tools that have revolutionized disaster preparedness such as OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager, OpenStreetMap Export Tool and OpenAerialMap.
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Where to be or get to know in Brussels if you’re interested in new technologies and startups

While Belgium may not be famous for abundance of excellent software developers, it is a fast growing startup scene. Its capital Brussels is a buzzing hub of entrepreneurship with numerous conferences, hackathons, meetups, business and coding workshops.


Some of the startups from Brussels:

Startup Communities

Startup Communities you may be interested in:

  • – an organization supporting tech entrepreneurs giving access to service providers, business partners, customers, investors, coaching, training and networking.
  • The European Digital Forum – think tank committed to empower tech entrepreneurs and digital economy in Europe.
  • Software Brussels – gathers 200 software companies, support organizations, experts, research institutions and universities.
  • UP Brussels – a part of a global movement that supports new ventures, entrepreneurs and connects startup community.
  • Beta Group – the largest tech community in Belgium connecting entrepreneurs and startups.
  • Co-station and Betacowork – co-working spaces organizing tech and startup meetups.
  • Startup Weekends Brussels community – an event helping to build web apps over the course of a weekend.

Square business meeting centre:


Places I’ve visited

  • ADAM – art and design museum with the key symbol of Brussels – Atomium.
  • Espace Lé opold – the complex of buildings housing the EU institutions located in Brussels: European Parliament, Council of the European Union, European Commission.
  • Grand Place – central square of Brussels surrounded by for example Town Hall with numerous sculptures and beautiful tower.
  • Manneken Pis – famous bronze statue of a naked boy urinating into the fountain.
  • Place Sainte-Catherine with numerous medieval and baroque buildings.
  • Saint-Gilles municipality known for its diverse population and being the centre of artistic life in Brussels.
  • Ixelles municipality considered an affluent part of Brussels.
  • The building housing Brussels Stock Exchange (BSE) full of ornaments and sculptures.
  • Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) French-speaking university.
  • The Brussels City Theatre (KVS) – I watched “In Spite of Wishing and Wanting” performance by Wim Vandekeybus /Ultima Vez.

Atomium in Brussels:


Plasticarium collection in ADAM museum:

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Cinquantenaire triumphal arch:


Rollebeek street:


Street food – Belgian waffles:


World-famous Belgian chocolate:


Buildings of EU institutions:

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