FISL 12 - the aftermath


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jul 06, 2011 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


I have returned from FISL 12, the largest Free Software event in Brazil.

This year I decided to fly to Florianopolis first, to both do work on Project Cauã and to attend the Sixth Annual Brazilian Homebrew Festival that my friend Michel Grando was organizing. I will not go into the Homebrew festival other than to state it was spectacular and that Michel did a great job setting it up. I ended up not only tasting a wide variety of beers, but coming home with a bottle of a very special beer that the brewer calls “love beer”, which I assume is because the high alcoholic content makes you feel like a lover. I can not wait to try it out.

A day after the home-brew festival I got on a bus with 29 university students (which the Brazilians call a “caravan”) at 1130 at night, and headed toward Porto Alegre and FISL. This was one of over 60 “caravans” that went to FISL from various cities. I was very impressed by the students and especially the organization of the trip, headed up by another friend of mine, Lucas Mocellin. Lucas had tried to organize a caravan the previous year, but got an opportunity to study abroad and that fell through. However he made up for it this year, and the round-trip ticket for the luxury bus (seven hours in each direction) along with three night s hotel and two barbecues was only R$ 130. Lucas got the university to sponsor the bus, and found the students, hotels and restaurants himself. Once on board the bus I proceeded to tell stories of the early days of my career, along with answering questions about why the computer industry unfolded as it did.

I feel that FISL 12 was the best FISL ever, with twelve tracks of presentations nine hours a day for four days. Many of the same sponsors were there as last year, but we had some new ones, including Futura Networks (Campus Party) who also hosted the traditional birthday party for the Debian distribution.

There were over 6,900 people from twelve countries registered for the event. I saw a lot of non-Brazilian friends at FISL this year, including Jeremy Allison of SAMBA fame, Stormy Peters, Randal Schwartz, and Mathias Kirschner, among others. Of course there were also a series of my Brazilian friends who were talking about their projects and philosophies around FOSS.

I was lucky enough to participate in a couple of meetings with a federal government minister and the governor of Rio Grande do Sul who were looking at FOSSH to help improve Brazil both in the software creation and production space and in the hardware design and production. To both of these esteemed people I gave a bottle of “Project Cauã Belgium Trappist Dubbel” beer to help them remember the conversations.

Besides the typical conference presentations, there was also a large “vendor” floor that had not only traditional commercial booths, but many organizational booths.

At the event Project Cauã demonstrated a prototype of a home entertainment system based on xbmc that we home to start the project moving forward. The project is now looking for fifty LPIC – II certified people in Brazil to help with the pilot, and the project will be publishing a survey soon to help identify those who are willing and capable to help with that initial pilot.

Finally, I would like to thank the organizers of FISL, including my guide and liaison Rodrigo Troian who not only helped me plan my trip, but also acted quickly to reschedule my trip back to the United States when the need arose. Unfortunately during the time I was at FISL I received word that my father was dying. The organizers went into high gear to help me get home quickly, but unfortunately there was not enough time, and he died just as I was leaving Brazil. I am typing this the evening before his funeral. While I was not able to get home in time, I greatly appreciated the warmth, sympathy and hugs that my friends, both Brazilian and otherwise have lent me in this time.

Carpe Diem!

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