Tue 03 June 2014

FUDCon Beijing - Day 2

Posted by ankur in Tech (1004 words, approximately a 5 minute read)

Pre-lunch - Richard Stallman's talk

Day 2, or the final day had quite a great session list too. The spotlight before lunch, obviously, was on Richard Stallman's talk. We'd seen a GNU booth turn up next to our Fedora booth. Quite a lot of GNU stuff was on available there - Stallman's books, stickers, soft toys etc.

I'd skipped Lennart's systemd talk to get some work done. Emily had been good enough to get us a room to work in. Most of us Fedora folks were sitting there, hacking away. I did a couple of package updates that upstream release monitoring had pointed out to me.

Much to our surprise, Richard was brought into the same "hackroom" we were sitting in. In a few minutes, a volunteer brought in a lady that wanted a picture with him. She said she was a fan, and Richard promptly replied that he didn't want fans, he wanted people that will help him in his goal of completely free software. It was the first time I'd seen him in person, and the response, somehow, didn't surprise me. When Richard was ready, he walked to the main hall and we followed him to our seats there.

His talk was quite how I expected it to be. He was idealist - Aditya and I discussed that he had to be it, as the face and primary driver of Free software. Richard spoke of the advantages of Free software, where he pointed out the numerous back doors that have been found in proprietary software to spy on users. He spoke of the GNU time line, how he had started it, how Emacs and other things came about. At some point of time, he expressed his annoyance to the fact that people confuse GNU and Linux, and free software and open source software. He spoke of how people think Linus is the father of free software etc. I quite enjoyed his talk. At some points, though, I couldn't help but think that he didn't really need to use negativeness to put his point across. He didn't just differentiate between free and open source software, and he didn't just say how free software is better than the open source philosophy, he went on to stress on why open source wasn't good enough. If you've seen his sessions, you'll probably understand what I mean.

I do respect him immensely, but like a lot of others, my philosophy does differ from his hard lined one. I think that's quite expected, though.


Richard Stallman speaking about Free software

The auction

The end of his session was an auction - for the benefit of free software. A GNU soft toy went for about 600 CYN, I think, and an autographed book went for a similar amount. I didn't bid, of course. It was quite amusing to see his fans outbid each other. He is quite the celebrity in that sense.

After lunch - GPG key signing party!

I spent the entire after lunch session at the key signing party. A few attendees already had GPG keys and knew how the party functioned. However, as is expected, there were quite a few that didn't have GPG keys, or in fact, Fedora systems. Robert and I helped them set up their keys. We explained the importance of a web of trust. Everyone then went to each other, had a little chat, verified each other's photo identity, and exchanged GPG keys. I think there were about 20 of us, which is quite a good number. All of us Fedora folks signed each others' keys and send them to the fedora key server. Hopefully, as time goes on and we meet more of our friends, our web of trust will get stronger and stronger.

Unfortunately, I was so busy at this session that I haven't any pictures to put up!

We'd thought we'd sit through the session on Gnome Shell Extensions. When we got there, we were informed that the session would be in Chinese - we went back to the hack room until Nitesh's open discussion on Fedora women began.

Fedora Women open discussion

Nitesh has been quite active with the Fedora Women SIG. I do peep in at times to see if there's anything I can do to help.

The idea was to see how we can make it even easier for women to join the community. One of the ladies suggested we come up with cute soft toys as swag, like the Suse lizard. I don't know how serious she was, but I certainly think it's worth discussing :D.

A general take from this session was that we need to first increase our user base before we work on increasing our contributor base. This makes perfect sense - people that don't use Fedora are a lot less likely to contribute to it.


Nitesh introducing women in Fedora

Ending ceremony and celebration dinner

The ending ceremony was similar to other events that I've attended. The organizers thanked all the volunteers without whom, the event wouldn't have happened. They thanked us speakers who took the time out to come down and participate in the event. Lots of clapping and cheering.


The organizing team that made the event happen

Jaroslav talked to everyone too. He reminded everyone that "friends" is a core Fedora foundation, and that at the event, we had made many many new friends, and finally met many of the people we talk to frequently over the Fedora communication channels.


Jaroslav at the closing ceremony


Happy hacking!

There was a lavish dinner set up at the Vision hotel. There was a lot of food - sea stuff, breads, dessert, beer, sake. We had quite a fun time. I talked to Martin for a bit before he left. We met the volunteers with Emily and wished them all the best as we took our leave from the dinner.


I really did eat a lot!

This was the end of the FUDCon for us. The next day, we were to head out to a tour of the Great Wall.