Vienna Calling!

Last weekend I attended Linuxwochen Wien for the first time. I heard a lot about the event, so I totally wanted to go there. Now that I’m back from Vienna, I am a little disappointed – but nevertheless happy I went there.

The Austrian Linuxwochen (Linux Weeks) is a series of events all over the country. It started in Graz, but there is also Eisenstadt, Krems and Vienna. The event in Salzburg is delayed until further notice, Linz was canceled off this year (only the LUG meeting took place) and Klagenfurt seems dead for years. Overall not very encouraging, but we wouldn’t be Fedora if we were not to change that. So we brought 7 people to Vienna which were supported by two locals, Kevin and Volker. Both did an excellent job, even though they are (officially) no ambassadors. Together we submitted 16 talks and workshops. All were accepted, this is roughly one fourth of the 3 day program. I delivered two talks, one on Kolab and one on postscreen. Both went very well and I’m very happy about the feedback I received. Overall the talks and workshops were very interesting and the speakers very competent.

Fedora booth at Linuxwochen Wien

Fedora booth at Linuxwochen Wien

Fedora delivered a good show. We had by far the biggest and most professional stand and lots of goodies. As a special gimmick Miro had brought his 3D printer and as always it attracted a lot of people. The rest of exhibition however was not impressive. That’s a well know problem for events where the focus is on talks, but this one was worse: It was moved to a new building with more space on the hallways, but the number of exhibitors hadn’t really changed. The booths looked quite lost and there were hardly visitors as most people were attending talks. On Friday we had at least some students from the university showing up and hoped for more people over the weekend, but that was wishful thinking. Maybe it was bad promotion, maybe the weather or a combination of both.

Empty hallway at Linuxwochen Wien

Empty hallway at Linuxwochen Wien

The weather in Vienna was bad compared to Berlin, but on Saturday afternoon it changed and the rest of the weekend turned out to be very sunny. As there were not many visitors and we had more than enough people at the booth, later that afternoon I decided to go for some sightseeing. People told me Vienna is beautiful, but I hadn’t seen anything of that beauty. I have been to Vienna before, but usually it was just for transfer at the airport or on my way to Brno. So I went to the historic city center and I have to admit, it really is impressive. There are a lot of buildings from the imperial times of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and also from the Art Nouveau (or ‘Jugendstil’ as we call it) era. I love Jugendstil.

Subway station 'Karlsplatz'

The subway station ‘Karlsplatz’ in Vienna – an icon of the ‘Art Nouveau’ era.

On Friday we had a social event. It wasn’t really a social event, instead we just went to a Chinese restaurant down the street for an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. We were around 30 people and I was lucky to sit next to Bernhard. We talked about packaging and he asked me if I could help him with continuous integration of rpm build. It turned out Bernhard is a FreeRDP developer and told him I’m the poor bastard maintainer of remmina in Fedora. Remmina is a GTK-based RDP, SSH, NX and Telepathy client, developed by the FreeRDP project. It’s powerful but in bad shape as FreeRDP is still a young project and constantly moving forward. Unfortunately there haven’t been stable releases for quite a while and backporting fixes is cumbersome. So we agreed that FreeRDP will try to maintain a ‘release’ branch in git, even if there are no actual releases, and we will help them with continuous integration. If Mads, our FreeRDP maintainer, agrees we will build and host nightly versions of Fedora’s freerdp and matching remmina packages. An interesting project and I’m looking forward to it.

My flight back to Berlin left very early on Sunday morning. I had to get up at 5 am, but it allowed me to be in Berlin at half past eight and enjoy a sunny Sunday after which I was very tired – but happy.

Not sure I will attend Linuxwochen Wien next year, we have other awesome people to run the event. Personally, I learned some important lessons:

  • Talks are getting more professional and so is the target audience. When you give a talk, be professional – but don’t forget the fun!
  • Exhibitions on the other hand receive lesser attention. We need to think of new way to attract people and how to interacting with them. We need something more playful like the Fedora photo booth.
  • Renting an apartment is a good idea: Not only that it’s cheaper than a hotel, but more fun, too.
  • The people who told me Vienna is beautiful didn’t lie.

Thanks everybody for making Linuxwochen a successful event. A special thanks goes out to Sirko for being a perfect event owner. He took care of everything, not just the booth and apartment and he was a good tourist guide.