The openSUSE Conference
was held September 17 - 20, 2009 in Nürnberg, Germany. There was full schedule with
talks, workshops, Birds of a Feather sessions, an RPM summit, and more. We
talked with openSUSE community manager Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier about the
Tell us little bit about the conference. You mentioned
in your web log that there were 150 people the first day. Was the
participation about what you expected?
No, it was actually better. The goal was 200 people, with a good mix
between Novell employees and community contributors. We actually did
better than 200, I think between 215 and 230 people -- I haven't
gotten the final number yet, as I had to leave on Sunday.
And the actual participation was fabulous. People were great at being
self-starting and setting up their own sessions and generally making
things happen once they were there. We had a great conference, and I
think most people were very happy having attended. The only consistent
complaint, which was expected and unavoidable, was that there was no
open network for participants except for a bunch of wired connections
in the front room for people to get email, etc., and for presenters to
The facility simply wasn't geared to handle our kind of bandwidth
needs, so we decided no network was better than a crappy one -- plus,
we did want people to actually talk to one another. Some people have
actually suggested having no network next time as well.
The schedule for Thursday shows that you gave a talk about the
Ambassador program. Tell us a bit about that.
It was mostly a Q&A session -- I wanted to get people together who
were interested in the ambassadors program and find out what questions
they had, what they might need, and how to go forward faster. It's
really something that we want the community to define -- budgetwise,
there are some parameters being set by what we have to work with, but
other than that, this is something that I largely want to let the
people doing the work to define and take ownership of - and that's
going well so far.
It seems like there was plenty to do, with two tracks, unconference, and
more all going on at the same time. Did it work well? What was particularly
Very successful, I think -- people had enough structure to have some
idea what to expect when they showed up, and then also enough freedom
to plan their own activities. I hate going to conferences where you
have no slack time and no way to talk to other people with similar
interests without just skipping out entirely or staying extra days. So
this gave people room to be part of a "general" conference while still
addressing their specific areas of interest. The GNOME team, for
instance, headed back to the SUSE office to do a bunch of bug triage,
which was awesome.
In general, I would like to do more pre-planning next time, more to
get upstreams involved, but overall I think this went very well.
Due to the network issue, of course, we weren't able to be inclusive
for people who couldn't attend physically, and that was disappointing.
Did you attend any of the RPM summit? Can you tell us a bit about
I didn't but I was told by the participants that it was successful and
they were able to make some progress. Really, I think the primary
thing was to get several people from different projects in a room
together to get things started, and I think we've accomplished that. I
really want to thank Florian Festi for coming and the Fedora/Red Hat
guys for being very receptive to working together here.
Was there a specific highlight or two of things that were interesting,
useful or unexpected?
I think the openSUSE governance sessions we had were very useful. We
got a lot of ground covered and had some very good conversations with
all the right stakeholders (or almost, anyway) in the room. Of course
as with any event we had a few key people who couldn't attend for
various reasons, I'd say we had the majority of people at the
conference who needed to be there.
Can you give us some highlights from the other tracks?
In general, I wasn't attending many talks myself -- I was mostly in
unconference sessions or taking the opportunity to meet face to face
with my colleagues and openSUSE contributors that I don't often get to
Are there any specific plans for next year?
We're looking at co-locating with BrainShare Europe next year. There's
a lot of overhead with planning a conference, facility-wise, so if we
can do away with some of that by co-locating the event, I think that's
a good way to go. We need to find out where BSE will be held, though.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that the event was quite well-attended and fairly successful. We
accomplished quite a bit in four days and it was really useful just
getting people together. We needed to have an opportunity for
contributors to meet one another and really bond, and I think that
happened. We were certainly quite efficient at beer consumption during
the Thursday party... ;-)
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
Editors note: See this week's openSUSE Weekly
News for more conference coverage.
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