[ blog » 2024 ]FOSDEM 2024 ( by Philipp Gesang, location: the living room)

Finally, I made it to FOSDEM. For years now I had wanted to go as everyone was speaking so highly of this conference, I knew I had to see for myself but until now I could not make it work. This year I could, so with a lot of anticipation I got on the train to Brussels one beautiful day in early February. The hype was justified as what awaited me surpassed my expectations by far.


Saturday I spent entirely in the Rust devroom which was rather cramped on account of overwhelming demand, causing a long line to build up outside the doors. Afraid to lose my premium seat in the front I entered that room for the first talk after the big opening and never left it. It was worth it. The Rust track had a lot of variety with topics ranging from the Rust frontent for GCC to the amazing Ratatui library which is the blessed successor to the now abandoned tui crate.

Perhaps the most uplifting talk of that Saturday was a progress report on Servo, Mozilla’s web browser engine that figured as a testing bed for Rust as a systems language back in the days. Development has picked up again in recent years and has reached a point where one of the most popular feature requests could be closed: the quest for an embedding API. An not just the “hand me GL surface and use JS for the rest!” approach to an API that was favored by Mozilla but an actual Rust API with a real world demo called the minibrowser. Amazing to see that 10+ year old feature request finally implemented!


No Rust track on Sunday so I used the day for mingling and exploration. Starting with Lennart Poettering’s excellent talk on UKI’s and the tools systemd provides to ensure tamper protection in the Distros devroom, I gravitated to the GCC devroom and remained there for a while to enjoy talks on all things compilation. Probably my favorite devroom all things considered. Unable to follow through with all my plans I had to completely skip the Nix / Nixos devroom, there was just too much overlap. Still, I had a full program and the few times I failed to get a spot in one of the more crowded rooms, I used the downtime to wander around, collect stickers and chat to the people at various project stands.

Not quite unexpected for a Brussels event, FOSDEM has a distinctly Belgian vibe as evidenced by the enormous amounts of waffles and frites (750 Kg!) sold by the catering team.

Did I mention FOSDEM is free? Because it deserves emphasizing, there is no attendance fee and the organizers kindly schedule the conference on weekends to lower the barrier even further. Motivated by the fantastic experience I volunteered for the cleanup of building H after the lights went out on the final talk of the day. The folks that showed up were a diverse bunch, time just flew by interesting conversation while we removed tons of cardboard, packed boxes, carried folding tables, and loaded vans and trucks for the transport to storage. A bizarre sight was the hideous ostrich sculpture in the room that served as the main networking infrastructure hub – it appeared to be made of cast iron so it took quite some effort to lug it across the room to where the ULB staff would be expecting it the following day.


  1. Rui Ueyama on mold and if it can be used as system linker. A fascinating introduction into what is arguably the fastest linker made by mankind.
  2. Matthew Hodgson on Matrix with a promising live-demo of the new video conferencing feature – no more Jitsi required. (And a special application to the Digital Markets Act whose deadline expires in March.) The future is looking bright.
  3. Benjamin Bouvier’s talk about the Rust SDK for Matrix and how the Matrix ecosystem came to adopt Rust as the main implementation language going forward.

Honorable mention: The two final talks in the GCC track


gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail