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Tack foss-north 2023!


The 2023 edition of foss-north took place in Gothenburg on 24 and 25 April 2023. It was a great occasion to meet again in person with the Nordic Free Software community. Over 180 participants had the opportunity to learn about and discuss Free Software in more than 20 sessions.

Panoramic of Chalmers Univerisity buildings with Swedish flag

This year, for the first time, the FSFE co-organised a track on political, social, and legal issues around Free Software. It was two days full of enlightening discussions. The topics addressed were many, and in case you missed the event, here it is a short overview of some of them. There are more interesting talks that took place during these two days. The recordings of the sessions are availabe in the foss-north peertube instance!

Interoperability and Free Software

Lina Ceballos, Policy Project Manager at the FSFE, gave a keynote on the Interoperable Europe Act (IEA), a proposal with which the EU is aiming to create a dedicated legal framework on interoperability.

Our position was stated clearly: the IEA needs a “Free Software First” approach. Free Software indeed creates the conditions for interoperability. This kind of solutions should be considered the default when it comes to interoperable digital solutions. Similarly, concerning innovation, numerous NGOs are at the forefront of the process, and that is why we stress the fact that the engagement of stakeholders – especially civil society and the Free Software Community – should be taken into consideration when it comes to the governance of the proposed legislation.

Picture of a room during a talk with a woman on the stage

Public Procurement and Free Software

Björn Lundell illustrated how current practices in public sector organisations discriminate against the use of Free Software. Public administrations often express mandatory requirements in the public procurement process which inhibit the use of Free Software solutions.

Professor Lundell highlighted the issues concerning lawfulness and appropriateness related to public procurement and the use of services without having identified all applicable Free Software solutions before. The talk gave a brief overview and illustrative examples concerning how current practice amongst public sector organisations discriminate against FOSS usage and the fundamental challenges concerning how to avoid it.

Picture of a talk with a man on the stage with a screen with a presentation

Public Administrations and Free Software

Jonas Södergren and Johan Linåker discussed the challenges and the possibilities that Free Software can bring to public administrations, especially smaller ones – like municipalities – that often do not have enough expertise or resources when it comes to building their digital infrastructure. There are challenges, but Free Software offers the potential for shared and standardised platforms and infrastructure, which can be tailored to specific needs in a modular structure.

The experience of the Swedish Public Employment Service demonstrates this. Together with JobTech and Free Software, 400 different source code repositories have been shared over the past few years. This highlighted the possibilities of Free Software to improve operations and deliverables through open data APIs in Public Administrations.

If you are interested in Free Software and its use in Public Administrations, we suggest you to have a look on our Public Money? Public Code! campaign and to sign our Open Letter!

Picture of a man giving a presentation that is shown in a big screen.

Empowering Users

Petter Joelson and Martin Raspaud gave two examples of how Free Software can empower users. The Free Software platform Decidim has enabled participatory budgets and citizen involvement for millions of people. Petter Joelson, the founder of Digidem Lab, shared experiences of working with the platform Decidim together with the city of New York, the European Commission, and small cities in Sweden.

Similarly, Martin Raspaud showed how a specific Free Software program can become leading in its field: The Python framework Pytroll has successfully competed with proprietary software, leading multiple weather institutes internationally to adopt it as their main tool for processing satellite imagery, and it is now thriving around a community of dedicated users, developers, and researchers.

Picture of a social gathering in a restaurant with people sitting in a table

The first 10 years of reproducible builds

Holger Levsen took us on the journey of reproducible builds; a journey from being a Debian effort to something many projects work on together, and even to be mentioned in an executive order of the president of the United States back in 2021. He also discussed where we are today and where we still need to go until Debian stable will be 100% reproducible and verified by many.

A person with green hair giving a talk being the presentation in a screen in the background

Community Day

The conference was preceded by a Community Day on 23 April 2023. It was an opportunity to meet and learn about Free Software and share knowledge. On this occasion, the drawing program Inkscape celebrated its 20th anniversary and the people behind it organised an exciting workshop on graphic production and stitching with Free Software. The Community also had the possibility to join the kick-off of the translation of The Standard for Public Code into Swedish, together with the NOSAD team.

It was also time again to sit all together around a table and share some food. The community dinner was the perfect occasion for this!

Picture of people sitting in a room listening to someone giving a talk.

During foss-north, our booth was full of visitors asking us questions about our work, taking stickers, and buying shirts. If you like our work you can take your contribution one step further: become a supporter. The FSFE would be nothing without our supporters. And it would be so much more with you! Each financial donation multiplies our strength in public awareness, policy advocacy, legal, and technical expertise. Support software freedom, support the FSFE.