Let us start with the fact that only one of us attended FOSDEM before, so we were going there not really sure what to expect. We just knew that it’s one of the biggest open source conferences in the world and it’s hosted yearly during the first weekend of February at the Free University of Brussels. It’s free and 100% organised by volunteers. Just looking at the numbers alone was enough to overwhelm us (and the event is only 2 days long!):

  • Over 8000 participants
  • 742 lectures during only 2 days of event!
  • 50 lectures per hour
  • 66 stands
  • More than 12 sponsors, like Google or GitHub
  • Organised since 2001

If you still need more convincing, just take a look at a fragment of the list of DevRooms available during 2018 FOSDEM:

  • CAD and Open Hardware;
  • DNS;
  • Decentralised Internet and Privacy;
  • Free Java;
  • Graph Processing;
  • Big Data, and Data Science;
  • Monitoring and Cloud;
  • PostgreSQL;
  • Real Time Communications;
  • Retrocomputing;
  • Software Defined Radio;
  • Source Code Analysis;
  • Testing and automation;

And many, many more! Mind-blowing, right?

There were four of us attending the event, and in order to maximize our knowledge gains, we decided to split up. Below you can read detailed coverage divided into subjects of interests for us.


I was the only one from our group to have attended FOSDEM before. It’s an event which is incomparable to any other. It’s basically the opposite of the saying ‘excess form over substance”, as there is plenty of ‘substance’ at FOSDEM.

Being there, I’m always looking for people of merit - professionals who create the foundations the the whole IT world, as it is pretty much based on Open Source. FOSDEM due to its unique characteristics attracts activists, authors and main Open Source contributors. Each year there is a summary of plans for main projects, and additionally you can talk to people working on those projects, face to face.

I’m personally interested in the subject of Free Software Radio, where engaging Software Defined Radio (SDR) projects are discussed. This year I was captivated by:

“Spoofing GPS - is it really the time we think it is, and are we really where we think we are?” - Jean-Michel Friedt “Performing Low-cost Electromagnetic Side-channel Attacks using RTL-SDR and Neural Networks” - Pieter Robyns

One can say that FOSDEM is a huge Open Source celebration. It’s a place where contributors, activists and professionals are visiting to meet, broaden the knowledge and look for inspirations. It’s definitely worth to be there!


Going to Brussels, I was mainly interested in lectures about machine learning and ways to create infrastructure for training neural networks models and their production application.

During FOSDEM I have attended the following lectures:

  • Understanding Source Code with Deep Learning - Miltos Allamanis
  • Suggesting Fixes during Code Review with ML - Vadim Markovtsev
  • Code anomalies in Kotlin programs - Timofey Bryksin
  • Introducing Kubeflow - How to put models into production? - Holden Karau, Trevor Grant
  • Building a Hardware MIDI Player - Terin Stock
  • Speeding up Programs with OpenACC in GCC - Thomas Schwinge

It was a really interesting experience - to find yourself among people who are interested strictly in technology, without any business subtexts (at least at first glance). A (very) long time ago I used to attend Amiga programming parties and there was a similar vibe (Intel Outside), it was very cool to recall that.

A broad amount of lecturers and subjects allowed anyone to find something interesting in virtually any IT field. It was also a bit of a disadvantage if you were unsure what lecture to attend - it was really easy to be late and hit a wall.

Also, Brussels is a really nice city and there’s really good beer in the official FOSDEM pub - Delirium.

If you have any additional questions about FOSDEM 2019, feel free to contact us, we are glad to share our experience!

Here you can find a Live about FOSDEM 2019: