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Another openSUSE Conference, another Country, but the same awesomeness. I attended the openSUSE Conference in the amazing city of Dubrovnik (more commonly known as King’s Landing), and it was another spell binding experience. Right from the talks, presentations, people (I cant stress on this one enough) to the location, everything was impeccable. I sit down to pen my thoughts at another experience, and memories which I will cherish. There was plenty to enjoy, learn, discuss at the conference, which lived upto its tagline – ‘The Strength to Change’. I highlight some of my experiences in this rather lengthy post.

The Location:

The location was just spectacular. I have been a ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ fan for quite some time, and had a vivid image of what King’s Landing would look like. It lived up perfectly to its name. I think Dubrovnik was ‘meant’ to play host to King’s Landing in the series. Visiting the Walls, Fort Lovrijenac (The Red Keep) felt like I had landed inside the world of Westeros.

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The Conference was held in the University of Dubrovnik. It was a pretty nice location, very close to Oldtown in a nice, peaceful location.

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Video Team:

This was something new to me. I helped around with the video team in mixing videos, and handling the camera for some of the talks. I had never done this before, and Christopher Hoffman gave me a great hands on. It was a pretty nice experience, working with Stephan Barth, Dubravko Jakovljević, Sarah, Jurgen, Marcel. I hope to be helping around with the video team at the next oSC as well.

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The Presentations:

As always, the presentations were top notch. Mentioning some which I really liked

  • Design and Branding – Kenneth Wimmer. This one cleared up some confusion there was with the openSUSE artwork. I really like the cool and funky new Geekos 😉
  • Almost every talk by Jos Poortvliet
  • SLE and openSUSE by Jan Weber
  • YaST Module from Scratch by Josef Reidinger (This one was cool!!!)
  • oSC15 by Bruno Friedmann
  • The upstream view of MySQL – Norvald H. Ryeng
  • The TSP talks by Izabel and Ancor

The Townhall Meeting:

I missed a part of the townhall partly due  to the incessant rain, but I got in time for the bulk of the discussion. The burning issues in the townhall were related to the openSUSE Release Cycle, and how Factory fits in. The discussion was pretty interesting, though the outcome will probably be clear in the current weeks. As of now, openSUSE 13.2 is slated for a November release.

openSUSE Summit:

At oSC13 in Thessaloniki, I had met Yan Sun, where she had put forth the idea for an openSUSE Summit in Asia. She put forth the proposal to the board in the last conference, though due to some issues, the dates kept shifting, though the event had been approved. Now, it looks like the event would be held in October/November in Beijing. I had a good discussion with her on topics such as talks, presentations and the TSP, which would be a vital cog for the conference. I am hoping to attend the event and give a presentation. Lets see how that works out. Fingers crossed on this one 🙂

Anahuac Gil:

Yes…I had to devote a whole section to this amazing person from Brazil, and one who made the conference even more memorable. I first met him at the hotel with Izabel, and we got down to talking. The discussions were amazing on talks from our diverse, but to a certain extent, similar cultures to the evil aspects of Google (and the nexus with the NSA :D). For a whole hour, he shed light on Cuba, which was pretty amazing. Whenever the guy talks, people listen intently. I enjoyed talking to him, and his banter of ‘You are TOO SLOW man!!!’ has stayed with me. Reaffirms my belief that conferences are a great place to meet people and understand different cultures.

The openSUSE Party:

Geekos love to party…plain and simple. After a hard and long conference, we had the main party at Eastwest Beach Club Banje, on the Adriatic shore. It was quite a picturesque place. The food was pretty nice, though I could hardly find stuff I could eat (considering I dont eat meat). Still I had a fun time interacting with people. I met with Peter Czanik, who works with Balabit Security, an organization we are collaborating with in the Google Summer of Code. We had a lengthy discussion on topics ranging from Hungary, Balabit, GSoC to name a few.

The best part of the party was certainly the dedication to Hans de Raadt. He could not make it to the conference, and he is going to organize the next oSC at the Hague. Netherlands. The Geekos gave an awesome tribute to Hans

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I got together with a group of Greekos, and talked about the Google Summer of Code. IMO, Greekos are really the most passionate community within the openSUSE Community. I am hoping they participate next year in GSoC 🙂

Craziest and most fun part – Geekos exchanging ID Tags in football style. I have no idea who ended up with mine. I now have Tomas Cech’s ID tag instead of mine 😀

Travel Support Program (TSP):

The Travel Support program has been integral for me attending the conference. It is an awesome tool which enables contributors to attend events which help openSUSE as a project grow. Being sponsored to the openSUSE Conference is a great feeling, and urges you to contribute more towards this awesome project. The talk discussing the openSUSE Travel Support Program by Izabel laid out some clear points

  • Contribute. It is not a free ride.
  • We want to support as many people as possible, but you have to ask for help
  • It is not just attending the event in the shadows. Get Involved. It is as much ‘during’ the event, than it is ‘before’
  • If you have been sponsored to the conference, remember that it is at the cost of someone else. Make it count…

Prior to the Trip:

This one perhaps warrants a separate blog post, as a guide on how NOT to travel, but I am going with the flow. I made a hash of my reservations, which almost cost me attending the conference.

  • I booked flight tickets through Germany, without realizing that I would need at least an airport transit visa. I assumed I would get a German visa, which would allow me to enter Croatia as well. The Embassy of Germany rejected my application, and I was stuck in Limbo for some time. I specially went to Delhi to apply for a Croatian visa, and got it a few days before the trip, leaving me no time to apply for the German visa
  • I canceled the tickets through Germany, and in panic, booked tickets going through Austria, without realizing that there is a 20 layover in Vienna, which would have been intolerable, and that I would potentially overstay on my visa.
  • I tried looking for an alternative, and was on the verge of booking tickets to Moscow, only to see the price double while I blinked.
  • I ultimately ended up canceling the ticket through Austria, and booking through Istanbul, which was a ‘sensible’ route, though it involved a flight plan which went: Bangalore -> Mumbai -> Istanbul -> Zagreb -> Dubrovnik. Travel Hell!!! I am sick of flights…
  • I missed the last day of the conference due to these issues, and also ended up spending some more on extending my hotel reservation, which was for a day less.

As the dust settles on the openSUSE Conference, I can only reflect on the awesomeness over the past week. It has really left a lasting impression over me. Thanks to the Geekos around the world, who make the openSUSE Project a success

 

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