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LibrePlanet 2018 Experience

LibrePlanet, the Free Software Foundation's annual technology conference, was a great experience in March.

The conference started with a fantastic keynote from Deb Nicholson, "Free software forever."

There was a strong hallway track. It started off with the welcome gathering at the Free Software Foundation's office Friday evening. Though a smaller conference, the welcome party immediately demonstrated that LibrePlanet is an international event. That night I met new people from Iceland, Mexico, Ireland, France, Brazil, Canada and England in addition to people from around the United States.

There were four tracks on Saturday and Sunday. The tracks were mostly presentations, but there were also a couple workshops.

For me the talks kicked off with Sharon Woods on "The battle to free the code at the Department of Defense." She is the General Counsel for the Defense Digital Service (DDS) at the US Department of Defense (DoD). Her presentation covered requirements for acquiring digital tools for the DoD and the responsibility to provide long-term guidance for the department.

Next Sean O'Brien covered "Exposing hidden surveillance in mobile apps" with coverage of some interesting tools.

There were a couple panels such as the TOR project's "State of the Onion" where several project contributors gave us updates, then took questions from the audience.

The last hour of the presentations on Sunday had a presentation from Karen Sandler, always worth seeing. At the same time Roan Kattouw spoke about "San Francisco's free software voting system". Beforehand I apologized to Karen that I needed to attend Roan's talk as I was more likely to have questions for him. She said she wanted to see it as well. Both referenced the other during their presentations.

The conference ended with a "there's a lot of work ahead of us" keynote from Benjamin Mako Hill.

Mako's ending keynote continued the seeming 'gloom and doom' of Bradley Kuhn's "State of the copyleft union." Neither was actually depressive despite focusing on how things used to be better and corporations co-opting the Open Source development model in ways that undermine copyleft. In the end, both were really pep talks about how far Free Software has come and reminders that there is still plenty of hard work ahead.

Before the conference started Deb hosted a SpinachCon Friday. A SpinachCon is a hackfest for projects to get user testing and feedback. Representatives from GNOME, Debian and OpenSuSE were there to get feedback. Aaron Luna from OpenSuSE also handed out stickers and laptop camera privacy covers.

On Monday, after the conference, Morgan Lemmer-Webber and her husband Chris hosted a workshop to teach basic programming to humanities students and scholars. There was also a LibreOffice certification workshop on Monday in addition to one run during the conference.

Speaking of Chris Lemmer-Webber, he's on the standards committee for the ActivityPub protocol and he gave a related presentation at LibrePlanet. Mastodon, one of the newer federated social networks that uses ActivityPub was well-represented among LibrePlanet participants. It was nice to meet Chris and thank him for his work on ActivityPub and MediaGoblin.

In addition to live streaming during the conference, the LibrePlanet organizers started putting videos up on a MediaGoblin instance almost as soon as the conference was over. Last year's talks are also on that instance.

Check the program to see if there are interesting topics for you.



After the conference ended Sunday evening the hallway track continued at Grendel's Den. I actually met a whole new bunch of people there that I hadn't run into during the conference. Perhaps LibrePlanet isn't so small after all ...

Also posted on PLUME: