FOSDEM 2019 & Brussels

Brussels, Europe, OSS


One of the benefits of living in Europe is that you get to travel around. A lot of stuff is always happening here. For instance this time, FOSDEM. It is one of the biggest gatherings of FOSS enthusiasts. It was my first time this year at FOSDEM. Although I anticipated that this is a grand event. It was even bigger than I expected. The event was held at ULB. Multiple tracks ran in parallel across the whole campus. The event covered almost anything at the intersection of computing and open source from quantum computing lectures to JavaScript framework wars. Unlike most conferences, the event doesn’t have tickets. It is free (free as in beer and also free as in freedom :D) to attend for everyone. The crowd at the event was highly diverse. People came from many different countries. I even saw people conversing in different languages. You can overhear people talking in French or German. Perhaps there were so many people that they could easily form smaller groups. FOSDEM attracts people of all age groups. From University students to greybeards. It was snowing in Brussels but people were in high spirits.

Two of my favorite talks:

  1. Breaking Postgresql On Scale: Christophe Pettus talked about his experience in maintaining petabytes size Postgres databases. The talk had actionable advice for managing databases of all sizes. It had sections based on different database sizes. 10GB, 100GB, 1TB, 10TB and more. Christophe specifies the configuration parameters to tune when database size grows. It is interesting to note that postgreSQL is shipped as one binary that can run on your laptop and on the cloud for storing petabytes of data.

  2. Web Components are the future. And future is now: JavaScript news has a low signal to noise ratio. I tend to mostly ignore it. That is my excuse for my ignorance about Web Components. Thanks to this talk now that I understand Web Components it sounds like an interesting idea. Create encapsulated components for widgets using Browsers' window.customElements and use Shadow DOM API for better isolating styles and markup structure.


One interesting thing about Belgium: it is a multilingual and multicultural country. People speak French, Dutch and German. Still different cultural groups get along well with each other. Brussels is a big city. It is not as tidy and maintained like most Western European cities. Public transport is good but not great compared to Berlin. Traffic jams are a real problem here. It has some nice bars and cafes and Belgian beer is great. My Airbnb host gave me a map curated by locals in Brussels. It lists all the non-touristy places for tourists. That is how I found the Gist. They brew great beer play some loud Stoner rock. Café du Sablon have good coffee and a great vibe. My favourite thing to do in Brussels is strolling through the hilly roads.

February 9, 2019 × Berlin