Linux Application Summit 2023 – A view from the sidelines…

Let’s start from the beginning – what Is Linux Application Summit? Like the name suggests, it’s a conference, or rather a meet-up of a variety of Linux software groups, teams and individual creators. Most important of all, it’s a joint effort by two large projects – KDE and GNOME. It represents a truth, not many Linux blogs and media properly represent – that we are part of a large family that shares values, customs and love. A lot of people seem to assume, that there is this great rivalry and fragmentation in the Linux community. That for one to prevail, the others must fall into oblivion. That there can only be one packaging format, one distro to rule them all. Linux App Summit is the proof that our differences are not our weakness, but actually our strength. Events such as this, where people from Canonical, Red Hat and various other projects and communities meet, eat, drink and bond together show that the open source world is a gorgeous tapestry, rather than a vicious battlefield. If you haven’t been able to join us in person, let me at least show you a glimpse of what I’ve seen and experienced in one of my favorite cities in the Central Europe, the city of Brno in Czech Republic.

Day (-1)

Arriving on Thursday by train, I was welcomed by the familiar sight of the slightly unusual city clock. It may not be as fancy as the astronomical clock in Prague, but it sure leaves you with an impression.

Clocks strike noon at eleven in Brno, commemorating a trick played on the Swedish army by the besieged townsfolk.

Brno is a relatively small city and everything of note is within walking distance, however for those in hurry, there is a well-organized public transportation system. Just be sure to call the local trams by their proper name “šalina” and not “tramvaj” as do the inhabitants of Prague call them. Otherwise you are bound to catch a few annoyed looks pointed your way.

Day 0

Friday was quite uneventful – it was the day many of the attendees were traveling to Brno. It was an opportunity to speak with a few folks before the main event began and everything became a bit more hectic. The welcome party at the Harry’s brewery was quite pleasant. Beer was flowing, cheers and stories were shared. Also finally got to connect the names to the faces of folks I’ve only seen online until this event.

Day 1

The first proper day of the LAS 2023 was a bit rough. Waking up early to go get the TV for the booth, setting everything up to and overcoming technical difficulties the whole morning. It was worth it though, as the talks were engaging, people were brimming with collaborative energy and passer-byes could see Fedora and Ubuntu folks sitting side by side chatting instead of fighting on the forums.

The timetable for the day was offering a lot to choose from for people from a variety of camps and interests. My only regret was not seeing any of them in person, although most of the day was recorded and is available here (Room 1) and here (Room 2). I was most captivated by the talk on Snap performance optimization by Igor Ljubuncic, although the other talks were very interesting as well. You can watch the talk here.

After the talks, there was a joint release party of Fedora 38 and Ubuntu 23.04. Although alcohol was off limits at the venue (Faculty of Informatics of Masaryk University), the mood was cheerful and the cake definitely wasn’t a lie.

Day 2

The final day of the LAS 2023 was filled to brim with talks both technical and community-oriented. The recordings of the two rooms are available here (Room 1) and here (Room 2). We’ve had a peek at the GNOME Mobile – a very cool proof of concept for a GTK environment on a smart device. It may not have the daily-driver readiness of Ubuntu Touch, but it was definitely cool to see making progress. Next, there was a talk on an often skipped but still very important step in software development – writing tests. In this case, writing tests for Flutter desktop applications. You can follow along the workshop here. In case some bugs slip by you testing, a user having seen this talk (available to watch here) may report it to you and help you get that extra bit of polish for you Linux app.

As a devoted follower of calorie counting religion, I rely heavily on my fruity devices and a proprietary app called Lose It! It is a nice enough app that I am happy to pay my yearly fee for, however I always felt a bit uneasy giving up information on every bit of food that I consume to a black box that I hold no power over. Although there doesn’t seem to be an alternative just yet, I was quite happy to see, that at the very least the fitness and exercise aspect of weight control has finally reached the open source community. Local developer, Miroslav Mazel presented his work on an OSS exercise Wiki and client apps. (Stream here). I just wish, that somebody will create an open source database of food and drinks as well.

This eventful day was closed as always, by a group photo of (most of the) speakers, volunteers and attendees.

As you can probably tell from my ramblings in this post, I’ve had a great time at the LAS 2023. Of course, it wasn’t without problems – sound issues, lack of breaks in between the talks that would allow the hallway track to flourish did put a blemish on it all, but these are easily fixable in the future. What it represents, though, is more important than a perfect organization. It shows Linux users that the people behind the software they use is made by teams that are engaged in a friendly competition and cooperation. It shows that despite our differences, we have much more in common with each other and we can all bring value to the shared space we all occupy.

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