[talk] BSDCon Brasil
george at ceetonetechnology.com
Mon Oct 12 21:56:06 EDT 2015
(to talk@ with a lot of people from .BR in the bcc...)
Just a quick overview of BSDCon Brasil Oct 9-10. It was a pretty
intense two days, and my travel time was over 30 hours both ways, but I
should first say it was well worth it.
Others should feel free to use talk@ for report-backs on conferences.
It's useful for everyone to get even anecdotal pictures of cons that are
There hasn't been a BSDCon in .br since 2003, and there's a new crop of
people mostly from Rio, Sao Paulo plus Fortaleza where the conference
was held. Fortaleza is in the north, and from NYC you have to first go
to Rio or Sao Paulo, then fly 3 hours back north. Next time, I will go
direct from Miami. Swimming would have taken less time.
The university at Fortaleza (UNIFOR) backed the conference, and I met
the instructor who leads the computer sciences program.
First thing I want to say is that this was the first conference for most
of them. There were a lot of planning mishaps for speakers, including
myself. Anyone who really been involved in organizing a con (and
there's *lots* of you on this list), you know that the number of details
is enormous. Some are always missed, and it takes repeated efforts and
experience to start addressing all the details. Brazilians are also at a
disadvantage with the plummet of the currency in the recent past.
The conference probably had up to 45 people in the room at its maximum,
although I don't know the actual numbers. Talks were in English or
Portuguese, although the slides were mostly in English. With only two
US citizens and one Dutch FreeBSD dev there, it was almost
over-accomodating for them to present in English. Needless to say, that
was only one illustration of the incredible hospitality shown by everyone.
Note that English is not widely spoken in Brazil from what I saw
anecdotally and by the actual stats. It's a Portuguese-speaking country
in Latin America, so you can assume Spanish is more commonly the second
most common language.
The very significant thing about the conference was a certain loose,
informal feel to the event. There was a lot of funny banter and jokes,
and everyone was very sociable and conversational. It wasn't a
conference in which half the room stared at their laptops the whole
time. Let's just say no one acted like they didn't want to be at the event.
Another significant point is that the event was among a good layer of
people who know each other locally, including students from UNIFOR. In
that way, it has more in common with NYCBSDCon than the other BSDCons.
It's a very regional event without "big names" from abroad. It wasn't
just a collection of BSD devs around the world congregating at another
conference, but rather a more organic event that pulled in those less
familiar with the BSDs.
This isn't dismissive of EuroBSDCon, BSDCan, AsiaBSDCon, etc, but rather
those events aren't easily replicated, and other BSDCons have other
advantages that we in places like NYC have set to focus on.
I can only comment on a few of the meetings, of course, due to the
language barrier. FBSD's Ed Schouten's CloudABI meeting was engaging,
and I think Jim T's "measuring performance" presentation worked well
also. My talk was well-received, focused on TDP (torbsd.github.io). A
very significant thing about my meeting was that before the meeting:
23 Tor relays in .br. Two windows, the rest Linux.
As of this moment, there are now three FreeBSD relays plus a NetBSD one,
plus an OSX one that may be related. A small but significant step in
network diversification for Tor. . . I didn't hear people saying they
would start running Tor relays on BSDs.. they just went and did it.
Andre did a talk on Bitrig and another one, and Edicarla did a meeting
on running FreeBSD on a Beaglebone Black, Jean Melo spoke, plus there
was one on Hardened BSD, netmap on FreeBSD and Lua. While they were in
Portuguese, they seemed like great presentations. It was particularly
refreshing to see a woman speaker from the university.
There was a lot of discussions informally. Some people worked at large
significant firms, others were at some point in their university
careers. One of the main organizers is creeping through his ten year BS
and has converted most of his university to BSD as a side project. Or
should I say the BS is a side project to migrating the university to the
A side discussion was also opened between GNN and the instructor
assisting them with the con regarding the new FreeBSD course curriculum.
The Brazilians are pretty isolated geographically from the
European/US/East Asian events, and they realize that. However, I think
making contact with the people who did that con in Argentina a while
back could open things up a bit more for them.
Other quick changes that I think would improve the event:
1. a strong chair for the event to introduce each speaker, provide
announcements and some direction.
2. enough coffee to keep everyone sharp :)
3. to add more coherency to the event, having designated places everyone
will assemble for dinner, evening drinks and so on. Informal social time
is very important.
4. the speakers and visitors' hotel/accomodations should be in closer
proximity to the event location.
5. Clear and consistent communications with the speakers and to
prospective attendees is important. There were times when there was no
communications to the public or the speakers, and it made some of the
speakers uncomfortable, to say the least.
6. Be creative in finding sponsors.. .there are more out there than
most of us realize. Hit the big, well-known firms, the local obvious
ones, but also the non-obvious. Maybe some firm is looking for Unix
admins, and being a sponsor is one route for them to recruit. What about
some cabling company locally that is looking to sponsor an event with
infrastructure-types in attendance?
7. Finally, the next con's organizers should extend to those who
attended and had a role at the event. There were lots of people I
*thought* were involved in organizing the event who were just very
engaged attendees. More people taking responsibility for the event is
I can definitely say if they have another con, I will be submitting a
proposal again. For what is really a first time event for most of them,
it was enormously successful.
And I don't think Stockholm/Ottawa/Tokyo/NYC can match the Friday
dinner: buy fish from a vendor on the beach by the kilogram, bring it to
another place to have it cooked, washed down by significant amounts of
cachaca, all while sitting next to the beach. I would have slept in a
sewage drain and taken a row boat to get there for that experience alone.
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