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Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

FOSDEM is possibly the largest and definitely the best open source conference of the year. It is a weekend event (February 2-3 this year) organized by open source enthusiasts to promote the widespread use of free and open source software. Each year, during the semester break at Université libre de Bruxelles, thousands of developers from all over the world gather to share ideas and collaborate on open source software.

FOSDEM is unlike any conference you have ever attended. It is free and open to everyone. Registration is not necessary, nor is it possible. I had my first FOSDEM experience in 2016 and have attended every year since then. Each year, I increase my involvement in the event. After all, FOSDEM is what us volunteers/attendees make it, so jump in and help us make it the best ever.

Software Defined Networking devroom

This year, I am one of the organizers of the Software Define Networking (SDN) devroom. We have a packed agenda of great talks by experts from many different organizations. Topics include XDP, Cilium, BPF, Virtio, NFV and VNFs, ONOS, VPP and, Ligato, Kubernetes, DPDK, and OPNFV. Too many acronyms? Don’t worry, you will be familiar with all of them by the end of the day, and we will of course include topics such as network device drivers and filters, flow tables, virtual switching, and much more. You are welcome to drop in for just a few sessions or stay with us the entire day.

SDN devroom scheduleSDN devroom schedule 

Legal and Policy Issues devroom

Arguably not as technically stimulating, the Legal and Policy Issues devroom is undeniably a critical component of FOSDEM. Sessions are insightful, extremely relevant to anyone using or contributing to open source software, and covers tough topics in a respectful, constructive, and collaborative environment. The panel discussion in which I am participating, Advocating for FOSS Inside Companies Redux, is just one example. Panelists from different organizations at different stages of their open source journey will share best practices and lessons learned from first-hand experience and real-world situations. Audience participation is encouraged, so join us and bring your burning question and troubling scenarios.

Legal and Policy Issues devroom scheduleLegal and Policy Issues devroom schedule

Lightning Talk on TRex

Be sure to catch the TRex open source traffic generator lightning talk, Sunday, 14:20-14:35, and hear Hanoch Haim introduce the FOSDEM community to TRex, an open source, low cost, stateful and stateless traffic generator fueled by DPDK. TRex is used by many open source projects, including DPDK, OPNFV, DPDK-OVS, and to benchmark SDN/VNF solutions in very high scale.

The Dilemma

The SDN devroom and the Legal and Policy Issues devroom are just two of  40+ devrooms accepted for FOSDEM this year, not to mention the keynotes and main conference tracks. There are also dozens of Lightning Talks, each providing a taste of a topic and something new to discuss at the bar over a Belgian ale that evening. I proposed a couple lightning talks that are waitlisted in the event space opens up. One is on extending the reach of open source through industry standards. The other is on best practices and lessons learned using GitHub for corporate open source. Please reach out to me at or @eckelcu if you want to discuss.

With so many great topics and tracks, the unavoidable dilemma is how to allocate your time. Here is a tip, all sessions are recorded and available online within a few weeks. Don’t waste time running all over campus trying to get to every talk on your bucket list. Rather, focus on a few topics, take advantage of the opportunity to make personal connections, and have fun.

Helpful Resources

  • The main FOSDEM page has complete and up to date info on the conference.
  • The DevNet Open Source Dev Center highlights open source projects that benefit from significant contributions by Cisco employees and are used in our products and solutions in ways that are relevant to developers.
  • Code Exchange helps you discover, learn, build, and collaborate on curated GitHub projects to jumpstart your work with Cisco platforms, products, APIs, and SDKs. Your contributions are welcome, and we encourage you to submit your open source repos today.
  • Join DevNet. It is free and easy using this link ( created for FOSDEM.
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