How to watch the FOSDEM 2021 conference this weekend

The FOSDEM logo on a grey and purple background

If you find yourself with not much to do this weekend due to coronavirus lockdowns you could check in with the annual FOSDEM conference which is being held entirely online this year for the first time since it began 21 years ago. FOSDEM stands for Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting and features all kinds of talks about projects you’ve heard about and some you may not have.

With FOSDEM normally being held in Belgium, all of the timetables use UTC + 1 as the timezone and if timezones don’t get you a bit confused, this year’s event includes 675 speakers, 763 events and 113 tracks with all these activities taking place across 109 rooms. There are several ways you can find what you want to watch including mobile apps, timetables and even a printable PDF with which spans 60 pages!

One of the best solutions to navigating around this huge event is the FOSDEM Companion app but it looks as though it’s limited to Android devices. If you don’t use Android the next best thing is the Tracks page that organises events by topic giving you a nice overview that you can drill down into to find more including live streams once they’re available.

According to the event organisers, each virtual room will have two live streams: video only and video with Q&A. The latter option will take you to a page where you can log in with a Matrix account to pose questions to the speaker who will aim to answer queries at the end of their talk. Aside from talks, there are also virtual stands which you can have a look at right now.

Topics for the talks this weekend include Apache OpenOffice, the Distributed Web, Containers, Distributions, Free Software Radio, several programming languages including Go, JavaScript, Kotlin, Python and Rust, LibreOffice, MySQL, MariaDB and much more. There are also more general talks about free software as well as short 20-minute lightning talks covering a range of interesting topics.

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