Thu, 02 Mar 2006


I'm so glad I finally decided to attend FOSDEM this year, as last weekend in Bruxelles was so cool it reminded me of the unforgettable week in Helsinki for DebConf 5 last summer.

I travelled early on Friday with Ivan Vilata, the dude who dragged me into the Catalan translations world, and about 12:30 we were finding our way through Bruxelles airport. We had barely no problems getting to Raül's place in Boulevard Louis Schmidt, thanks to the detailed HOWTO he provided a few days before.

We dropped our bags in his appartment and went out with him and Virginia after a well deserved mini-nap. On our way to the Grand' Place, where we'd hook up with the Softcatalà crowd and the rest of FOSDEM people, we stopped in A la Morte Subite, where we Ivan and I started our personal training on Belgian beers.

The Roy d'Espagne is an excellent name for a place where to meet our friends from Catalunya. I didn't know that was a formal meeting point that kickstarts FOSDEM, so I was really impressed when I got to the second floor and found the place was packed with Free Software people, many of them I already knew in person. Reaching Softcatala's table near the window took about 15 minutes, and after saying hi to most people, we decided we could use a quieter place to have dinner, and then go back.

The Grand' Place was bombed by seb128 in 1695

Raül and Virginia, our official guides during the weekend, chose a Vietnamese restaurant in the Stock Exchange area they frequent, and for little money we got an enormous meal. Back at the Roy d'Espagne, I tried to say hello to most Debian people I saw around, while at the same time I tried to be with my hosts and the Catalan people. A while after, I spotted tbm and azeem downstairs, who I finally met. I talked to Michael for a long while, and at some point we left as we didn't want to miss the last tram.

Ivan, luckily, only snores rarely, so we slept for a while, and then took the tram to the Université Libre du Bruxelles. The main room was already packed for RMS's keynote, which was pretty good. After that, we went to several talks here and there, while I kept meeting some people around the place. Ivan and I left when the show ended and we met with Virginia and Raül at the centre.

This time, we hooked up with Xevi and Jesús Corrius from Softcatalà, as Toni Hermoso had abandoned us for a cheap dinner with the people. We were taken to a packed bar/restaurant (don't remember the name right now), which had a few interesting features: they wouldn't sell any Coca-Cola, would not accept credit cards in protest for the high fees Visa charges on small businesses, and something I wouldn't expect to see in 2006, their chart of prices hadn't been rounded up when they switched to the Euro. So some plate would be 9.72, others 12.43, etc. After dinner we had a few beers at the Théatre de Toone, located in some tiny alley in the centre and being pretty tired, we went back home at 23:30 or so.

Sunday was a busy days, due to the number of interesting Debian and GNOME talks going on. I'd highlight liw's talk on Piuparts, Enrico's on debtags and fjp's on Debian Installer in the Debian room, and kris' on the future of GTK+. There was also a cool demo of Novell's XGL.

During a dead slot, I approached Little Daniel and keithp to see if he could point me at some mapping between UTF-8 and XKB symbol names. But Daniel was cool enough to solve a problem a lot simpler than expected. :)

jdub's closing talk was just fantastic, and after telling him "See you in Vilanova", we left the University, for our last dinner around Bruxelles.

jdub clues the audience about some basic acronyms

We managed to rescue madduck from the Debian UK beer trap and went to an Italian for dinner, this time with Josep and Mia, from Softcatalà, making a nice mix of German, Valencian/Catalan, and Swedish at our table.

Mia, Josep, Raül, Ivan, Martin and Jordi after pizza

Raül took us around the city centre and told us about the underground river, the remaining city wall's tower, and the church that leaned against it. That night's beer lesson happened in the "2000 beer bar". We all had a 7€ Trappist Westvleteren Bleu 8, apparently "the best beer of the world". It was pretty good, actually.

Our weekend in Bruxelles was about to end. After not that much sleep, Ivan and I took a tram and a bus to the Airport, arriving in València around 10AM, and after seeing the best view of the Pyrenees ever, which were absolutely covered with snow, as well as many other places in the País Valencià and Teruel due to massive snows during the two days we were out.

FOSDEM is probably a "can't miss" yearly event now. Thanks to all the organisers for their hard work to make it happen. You rock.

Hey man, I do not snore that much! It's just the change of climate. ;)  I also enjoyed the journey a lot, ant it was largely thanks to the efforts of Raül (who also found a good and cheap flight for me live on Skype).

You forgot to mention the man with the dog in the Italian restaurant, who fas falling asleep while we were openly talking about his pet.  We had good luck with that, it was funny.

I'm now having the FOSDEM abstinence syndrome.  I miss all the free software fellows, hope we meet again next year!

Posted by Ivan at Thu Mar 2 23:02:04 2006

Just to add some gastronomic details to the already complete post of Jordi:

The Vietnamese restaurant is called "Da-Kao II" (Rue Van Artevelde 19).

The "bar/restaurant with a few interesting features is one of my favourite places in the downtown.
Jordi, I know you also liked it. So, write it down for your next visit to Brussels: "La Fin de Siècle" (Rue des Chartreux 9).

The picture was taken in the Italian restaurant "I latini" (Place Sainte-Catherine 2)

Finally, the underground river I mentioned is not an urban legend.
You can find a reference in the Wikipedia (

See you next FOSDEM!


Posted by Raül Romero at Wed Jul 26 23:35:15 2006