8 April, 2012
FOSDEM (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is the largest OSS community developers’ meeting in the world, gathering 5000+ attendants each year, roughly double than it’s American counterpart OSCON. In both cases we are talking about thousands of attendees, really impressive figures.
Taking into account that there are way more system administrators than software developers in the world, it would be reasonable to expect a European conference for Linux sysadmins at least as big as FOSDEM, right? Well, that’s not the case. Maybe BOFHs are less social than developers. Maybe there is less need for community interaction among sysadmins. Maybe they are more product-dependant and they thus prefer attending more product-centric events. Maybe they just prefer attending events where it’s easier for them to find a girlfriend. Maybe a combination of all. But anyway, the best community conference for Linux sysadmins we found in Europe is Loadays (Linux Open Administration Days), in Antwerp (Belgium), and it sounds really tiny compared to FOSDEM.
As I needed to give it a try, I decided to I visited it last week-end and I must confess I am not disappointed. It is a young event (this was only its third edition), organized in a small school in the South of the city, with no more than 200 attendees, most of them from the Benelux. So, at first glance it looks more like a local event than a European conference.
However, the speakers did come from the whole of Europe (from France, UK and Spain to Germany, Hungary, Italy and Russia, and of course Benelux. Even some Americans) and the quality of their talks was very high. Just to get you an idea, there were lead developer and top consultants from CentOS, Puppet Labs, Percona, MariaDB, DNSSEC, Rudder, Zorp and even Zentyal, among others, in an event with no more than 30 sessions in total. Not the typical local event, right?
Also, being a small event made it easier to talk with everyone and the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy-going. It was also easy to set up pizza-diners and social events in the evenings.
Finally, I was impressed by the quality of the organization. I know how challenging it is for a small, volunteer-based team to close the required sponsorships and to get everything in place, so a big +1 for them.
In summary, Loadays is the hidden gem for European Linux sysadmins and it might get spoiled by trying to foster its popularity. So I do not encourage any reader to attend