Conferences are a great way of interacting with people you know online. I have always enjoyed attending technical conferences. This month, I got the chance to attend the openSUSE Conference 2013 in Thesalloniki, Greece. This was in the pipeline for over two months, since the registrations and the call for papers started. This was my second oSC, having attended the same in Prague last October.

This was undoubtedly a better experiences. I already knew lots of people, having met them last time. The fact that the conference was the first one organized completely was pretty awesome and inspiring. I would love to have a similar conference in India (or Asia for that matter). The Greekos really put in a lot of effort in organizing the conference, and made sure it was a success.

The trip to Greece turned out be quite chaotic. I had a flight till Athens, and then a train to Thesalloniki. I, along with Manu Gupta and Shayon Mukherjee had rented a place in Salonica, quite close to the venue. I reached on 18th morning, and realized that I had no mobile network, low phone batteries quite low, and with no means to contact either of my friends. To top it all off, I got lost, and reached the wrong place. Using the internet connection from a cafe, I made contact with Manu, and managed to reach the house, only to find that Shayon had lost (and found) his passport, and that we were locked out of the house. The trip was 12 hours old, and already very very eventful.

Back to the conference, the first day was very eventful. We reached the conference venue, The Olympic Museum, and it was already bustling with activity. We collected our goodie bags, and then started mingling with the rest of the Geekos. The full conference can be summed up with the awesome interactions with people, and the truly amazing parties (awesome food, drinks and people), which went on throughout the night, in true Salonica style.

Some of the highlights of the conference for me were(in no particular order of importance):

1.) The interactions with most of the community members, such as Jos, Bernhard, Robert, Richard, Agustin, Izabel, Henne, Oliver, Carlos to name a few.

2.) The folks from SUSE China. Sunny, Max to name a few, and having discussions regarding an openSUSE event in Asia (Really hoping it transpires)

3.) Manu and I, taking a talk on Google Summer of Code. This was the first talk I took at a conference, and the fact that it was being broadcast and taped scared the bejesus out of me. I didnt start off very well, but thanks to Manu, I regained my composure. Overall, it was a satisfying experience, talking about our experiences managing the program for openSUSE this year.

4.) The talks. They were top notch this year.

5.) The Town Hall meeting was nice, and I feel we should have it at every oSC.

6.) Manu and Shayon making the trip awesome. We really had a blast, roaming the streets of Salonica till 5 AM, and turning up for the conference the next day. To those sleepless but awesome nights 🙂

7.) The Greekos. They did an absolutely awesome job of organizing the event. Here’s to Kostas, Zoumpis, Stella, and the organizers for their effort

Overall, it was a very satisfying conference, and I learnt a lot about the community as a whole. I would love to get a chance to attend the next openSUSE Conference at Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2014.

Lastly, a word of appreciation to the Travel Support team, which did an awesome job of sponsoring 16 people to the conference, including me, Manu, Shayon and Amey. It really is an awesome program, which does a lot in increasing openSUSE’s participation in events across the globe. I hope more people make use of the program and turn up at events. \

For some more details about the program, I wrote a blog post about it some time back