KDE at FISL 16

Many of you already know that FISL (The International Free Software Forum) is one of the biggest FLOSS conferences in the world. From 8 to 11 July 2015, 5281 free software passionate people met in Porto Alegre (South Brazil) for the 16th FISL edition, enjoying activities such as talks, panels, hackathons, workshops, and community meetings. All kinds of FLOSS-related topics were in place: development, translation, artwork, education, robotics, entrepreneurship, audio-visual, women and gender, politics, academia and research ... Phew! that's tiring :) KDE has a long and memorable history at FISL and it wasn't different this year.

An inspiring keynote talk by Cornelius

The International Free Software Workshop (WSL) is a FISL co-located meeting devoted to the publishing, presentation, and discussion of peer-reviewed scientific work regarding FLOSS. This year, WSL had the honor of having Cornelius Schumacher (previous KDE e.V. President) as the keynote speaker. In his inspiring talk entitled "Learning to Grow", Cornelius enumerated eleven powers of free software communities that provide the fundamental substratum that allows FLOSS newcomers to exercise and leverage their technical, administrative, and social skills.

Cornelius's talk at the XVI International Free Software Workshop (WSL)

KDE's impressive exhibit

This year, the KDE Community members were comfortably installed in a nice 6m2 booth in the exhibitors' area. There we could install our newly printed out Konqi poster (many thanks to the KDE Visual Design Group for some nice tips), show off KDE technologies to visitors, and sell our merchandise. We were glad to have six different KDE t-shirts models, some Konqi pins, and some mugs for people who want to demonstrate their love for KDE :).

The KDE booth at FISL 16

When newcomers approached the exhibit with diverse questions about Linux, distros, and KDE, it was clear how rich and sometimes tricky the FLOSS world can be. Getting used to the roles played by the diverse actors and understanding how communities interweave each other can be confusing. A couple of times we had visitors joining us for an explanation about the Linux/Qt/KDE ecosystem, the motivations for contributing in KDE, and the basic steps for doing so.

Filipe showing off the KDE technologies in our booth

Attracting new contributors

It's widely known that making one's first contributions to FLOSS projects means overcoming various barriers, particularly in regions that lack the culture, incentives, and proper support for getting involved. Communicating how easy the KDE Community is and having inspiring and informal chats with notorious veterans may significantly lower these barriers and give a boost in young people's motivations. In the third day of FISL, there was a Q&A session with Cornelius and a group of CS students from the Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology of Bahia (IFBA) – a public university in northeastern Brazil. It was nice to see many interesting questions being raised and have the students being gifted with all Cornelius' experience.

Q&A session with Cornelius and some CS students from IFBA

Women in technology with Aracele

A particular topic which has been relentlessly discussed in FLOSS conferences in Brazil is the participation of women in technology. FISL 16 had four panels devoted to that subject–one each conference day. The goals are to help in identifying barriers and harassment situations, to characterize women's involvement in FLOSS communities, and to share experiences as a means to stimulate new contributors. Aracele presented a nice testimony about her Master's dissertation about the GNU Project, how she got involved in KDE and what keeps her dedicating some time to FLOSS projects.

FISL's “Women in Technology” panel

KDE Community meeting

We have a tradition of running a KDE community meeting at FISL. It's a moment to better understand our users, get some feedback, and present the amazing things we build. Although building local FLOSS communities isn't that easy, it was quite rewarding to see four generations of Brazilian KDE contributors sharing the same room and telling about their experiences, troubles, and motivations.

KDE community meeting at FISL 16


That's all! KDE had a great time at FISL 16. We look forward to the next edition, but until then we still need to plan our presence at the Latin-American Free Software Conference – Latinoware, another great FLOSS meeting in Brazil. Many thanks to KDE e.V., FISL's organizing team, and all members of Latin-American KDE community for all inestimable support.

But, wait! :) Help us promote the 2nd episode of Engrenagem – the Portuguese language video series about all sorts of KDE related things. The episode was aired on 18 July, 10:30 a.m. GMT-3, and was about the role of Qt in KDE community (but could easily be named the role of KDE in the Qt Community :)).

Engrenagem - Episode 2 - The Importante of Qt to the KDE Community

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This article first appeared on dot.kde.org.