FOSDEM 2020: The biggest FOSS fiesta

I’ve always been hearing stories about this open source fiesta called FOSDEM, but I never had the chance to attend to. This year, Nextcloud made that dream come true. Thank you Nextcloud for sponsoring me to this unique experience!

FOSDEM conference takes place at Brussels and it lasts for 2 days. However, the whole week in town is full of numerous open source events. I would be staying for 4 days, to attend some events and do some sightseeing since it was the first time I visited Brussels. So… Luggage ready, camera ready, open source mode on and we’re off!

I travelled along with my friend Stathis, and arriving at FOSDEM we met the rest of the Nextclouders. We were both glad to see again people we knew – Frank, Jos, Marinela, Greta – but we also made some new acquaintances – Bjoern, Silva, Borris. Altogether, we helped at the booth, talking to people about Nextcloud, introducing it to people that have never heard of it, spreading the word about Nextcloud Hub and helping others resolve any issues they had. And of course, handing out stickers generously!

The booth this year had grown bigger – that explains why Nextcloud was the only organization to have two tables 😉 And a cool blue light on the background!

Nextcloud shared the booth with DAVx5 and ONLYOFFICE. It was a pleasure sharing the booth with these awesome people and I’m very happy I got to know them! Open source is literally connecting people 🙂

Both days, FOSDEM was quite crowded and we’ve talked to an amazingly large amount of people. As of the talks, I attended a few – containers related topics – but the rooms were overcrowded and sound didn’t work too well because of that. For me, FOSDEM was more about networking and getting to know people from open source community. And of course, collecting some stickers!

If you feel like seeing some Fosdem Faces to get the feeling, take a look at this album. The photographer got my face too 🙂

One of the events we visited on our trip was that of FSFE. It was pretty interesting to listen to people from different countries talking about their way of promoting open source technologies to their country. That’s where we met Izabel and Luis. My “most important people” from this trip 🙂

Stathis, Me, Izabel, Luis on our way to Delirium

Izabel is one of Stathis’s friends from OpenSUSE community and Luis, is the founder of GNUHealth project. GNUHealth was the first Free Software project that clearly focused on Public Health and Social Medicine. Rumor has it that Luis’ experience in rural and underprivileged areas in South America led him to start thinking on how Free Software could help health professionals and authorities to improve the public health system. That’s how he created GNUHealth, a “Social Project with some technology behind” as he defines it in this talk. For me Luis, is exactly the type of person the world needs most. I was so impressed by his story and his project and I definitely want to find a way to contribute to it in the future.

Back to Brussels, along with these people we headed to Delirium to get a beer with some OpenSUSE friends.

Since I stayed a bit longer in Brussels I had some time to walk around town, do some sightseeing and meet old friends. The most popular spots in the city is the Grand-Place square and the view from Mont des Art. As of attractions, a must-see is definitely Atomium and maybe these well known pissing statues (Manneken Pis, Jaeneken pis, Zinneke Pis). But if you ever visit Brussels, I suggest you take a quick tour around and then visit the cities nearby, like Gent or Bruges. And don’t forget to taste some fries and waffles!

Until next time, enjoy some photos of the city 🙂

Grand Place
Mont des Arts
Met my old friend, Alexandros
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Manneken Pis
Zinneke Pis
Best waffles in town 🙂

Nextcloud Conference 2019

After completing Google Summer of Code, I submitted a lightning talk about my work at the Nextcloud Conference 2019. Moreover, I asked to participate to the volunteers team along with my mentors, Pantelis and Stathis.

It was the first time I attended a conference abroad and the first time I ever visited Berlin. It was a unique experience from which I gained a lot and I feel grateful that Nextcloud sponsored me to join the conference.

Let me share this one of a kind experience with you and hopefully inspire more people to join the Nextcloud community and attend the following Nextcloud conferences!

Eirini, Stathis, Pantelis and me, all Greeks, all volunteers, visited the TU Berlin to help set up the main hacking room, in any way each of us was capable of. Tables, chairs, drinks, signs, registration bags, badges etc. All set for the big registration day. This is when we first met Jos and Marinela, who welcomed us, showed us how to organize the place and helped us with our tasks. Thank you both! 🙂

As time passed, more and more Nextclouders arrived at TU Berlin. One of the parts I enjoyed most during this trip, was meeting all these awesome people, who made the newcomers like me feel like home and with whom we had some constructive conversations, technical or not, and had a great time 🙂 I have to admit, I’m inspired by them and I want to contribute to Nextcloud now more than ever!

Conference day 1 has come and all volunteers are on their shifts, exhibitors at their booths, speakers getting ready and TU Berlin is getting crowded by early in the morning.

Frank Karlitschek (CEO of Nextcloud) opened the conference presenting Nextcloud 17 and the new features coming with it. The shiny new features were pretty impressive, like Remote Wipe which allows users and administrators to forcibly clean files from remote devices (e.g. in case they are stolen) or the two-factor authentication improvements about the first login and new administrator settings, regarding lost or broken second factor solution and delegating the ability to create one-time-login tokens to group administrators. Moreover, some big achievements were announced. One of them is a doubling of Nextcloud security bug bounties to USD 10.000, which means we’re talking about a solid and reliable product. Another announcement that got me, was the collaboration with IBM. Nextcloud 17 introduces IBM Spectrum Scale integration, a high-performance file system, which results in several benefits in the area of performance, scalability and storage integration. You can read more about the new features here.

Later that day, among the lightning talks, I had my 5min presentation about my work on GSoC project “Expanding NextCloudPi”, which you can read here (or watch the video at 5:31:06).

Some of the talks that stood out for me were “The Not-so-secret future” of the American activist for Freedom of Expression, Jilian York as well as the lightning talk of the investigative reporter Fredrik Laurin about “The Investigative Cloud”.

A party followed at the Tiergarten where we ate some Berlin dishes and had fun getting to know new people.

Conference day 2 was as interesting as day 1, but except for the technical talks, we listened to some talks that really broadens one’s horizons like the keynote by Renata Avila or Thomas Lohninger’s talk “Stand up and act!”. Both of these talks were breathtaking and inspiring.

At the end, Frank and Jos thanked the volunteers and the conference was officially over.

The rest of the days, a Hack Week took place at the lounge where Nextcloud employees, along with everyone who was willing to hack, shared ideas about Nextcloud and worked together on projects.

As for Berlin, we did have some free time to go for sightseeing and visit some museums. We visited some of the mainstream attractions like the Brandenburg Gate or East Side Gallery, but we had also the chance to visit some alternative places like C-Base, where our friend Marie gave us a tour, or Teufelsberg, where we did some hiking into the woods carrying laptops with us – who said software engineers can’t do that? 😉

Greek dream team: Stathis, Fani, Pantelis, Eirini

Again, I want to thank Nextcloud and all of the team for this unique experience!