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FSFE at FOSDEM: A vital Devroom, virtual chats, and waffles


At the prominent annual conference for Free Software, FOSDEM, we exchanged opinions and chatted with people from the Free Software community. We raised awareness on wider issues that impact our movement in the Legal and Policy Devroom, co-hosted by the FSFE. Enjoy the videos from the talks and stay in touch via Matrix until the next FOSDEM.

We co-hosted the Legal and Policy Issues Devroom again, together with Karen Sandler and Bradley M. Kuhn from Software Freedom Conservancy and Richard Fontana from Red Hat. We had five interesting lectures covering a whole range of topics: from education to international politics to the current status of Free Software in the world to EU legislation and Device Neutrality. As in past editions we also summed up everything in our organisers panel at the end of the day.

Digital booth
A picture from our digital booth in 2021.

Masafumi Ohta kicked off the 2022 Devroom, talking about his experience on teaching Free Software licenses and compliance at a Japanese university. Education and Free Software is not an easy topic, as we have seen from the discussions in the chat. For example, in schools, it is obvious that we see many problems in the field of education. Again and again, children have to use proprietary software in everyday school life. Nonetheless, we were also able to point out positive examples that give us courage for the future.

Vittorio Bertola presented an update to his talk from last year on the Digital Markets Act, the new European rules for online competition. Vittorio explained what had happened in the meantime and talked about the impact of the new rules that might be adopted soon.

Christopher Klooz argued how with international regulations, in particular the possibility of international arbitration, we could achieve a globally unified governance framework for Free Software. The chat participants also discussed this topic in depth, as did the organisers during their panel.

Italo Vignoli showed how proprietary software gained ground during the pandemic. He pointed out the huge lobbying power of big tech, and how this influences the global use of software.

Last but not least, Lucas Lasota, FSFE Project Manager, proposed Device Neutrality as the necessary principle to make sure we are able to run Free Software on our devices without artificial barriers.

In the end, the Legal and Policy Issues Devroom organisers Karen, Bradley, Max and Alex discussed many ideas from the talks and made closing remarks in a panel. One of our main wishes for 2023: to have an in-person event in Brussels again.

You can find all the recordings on our Peertube instance.

Typing faster than talking

Every past FOSDEM visitor surely remembers the legendary FSFE booth in the K building – balloons, banners, and loads of merchandise, posters, and stickers. Our goal was to transpose this to the virtual FOSDEM, and for the second year in a row we have delivered.

For first-time visitors, we provided a shiny virtual booth presence on the FOSDEM website, showcasing the FSFE and our most notable developments in recent months. However, the real fun happened in the dedicated Matrix chat room in which we had many interesting and oftentimes funny conversations, mostly about Free Software, but surprisingly also about waffles. And yes, we also had a lot of balloons there, albeit virtual ones.

On Saturday evening, we opened an after hours event via video chat which provided more space for exchange of ideas and getting to know each other. It was a nice replacement for the dinner parties we usually organise in Brussels.

We would like to thank the many FSFE community members who made the booth so pleasantly chatty and welcoming to visitors! If you liked being in touch with us via our channels during the event we invite you as well as everyone to stay in contact with the community on Matrix.