foss-north call for papers

The summer is flying by and it is already August. The call for papers for foss-north IoT and Security Day is still open for a few more days, so make sure to get your talk in. We are looking for talks touching on connected embedded devices and how to do them securely.

The foss-north IoT and Security Day will be a one day event, October 21st, in central Stockholm. The venue, WTC, is located right by the central train station, so it is very easy to get there. Tickets will be made available soon. Make sure to save the date!

More foss in the north

Today is midsummer eve. In Sweden, this is probably slightly larger than Christmas. Everyone goes someplace to meet someone and enjoy a day of food, dance and entertainment. And you’re supposed to have flowers on your head as shown below!

The blog post author in full midsummer outfit

This year, midsummer is on June 21, which marks four months from the first foss-north event outside of Gothenburg. That’s right – foss-north is going to Stockholm on October 21 and the theme will be IoT and Security. Make sure to save the date!

We have a venue and three great speakers lined up. There will be a CFP during July and the final speakers will be announced towards September. We’re also looking for sponsors (hint hint nudge nudge).

Now I’m off to enjoy the last hour of midsummer and enjoy the shortest night of the year. Take care and I’ll see you in Stockholm this autumn!

foss-north 2019 – it is happening

Pinching my arm, to ensure that this is real. It feels surreal that we’ve gone from seven speakers to an amazing 33 in four years.

This years experiments are the training day, and community day. Looking at the various RSVPs for the community day, it looks like we’ll be 130+ attendees. For the conference days we have only ten tickets left out of 240, beating last years record attendance with 90 people.

The only question left is – what did I forget :-)

foss-north 2019: Community Day


I don’t dare to count the days until foss-north 2019, but it is very soon. One of the changes to this year is that we expand the conference with an additional community day.

The idea with the community day here is that we arrange for conference rooms all across town and invite open source projects to use them for workshops, install fests, hackathons, dev sprints or whatever else they see fit. It is basically a day of mini-conferences spread out across town.

The community day is on April 7, the day before the conference days, and is free of charge.

This part of the arrangements has actually been one of the most interesting ones, as it involves a lot of coordination. I’d like to start by thanking all our room hosts. Without them, the day would not be possible!

The other half of the puzzle is our projects. I am very happy to see such a large group of projects willing to try this out for the first time, and I hope for lots and lots of visitors so that they will want to come back in the future as well.

The location of each project, as well as the contents of each room can be found on the community day page. Even though the day is free of charge, some of the rooms want you to pre-register as the seats might be limited, or they want to know if they expect five or fifty visitors. I would also love for you to register at our community day meetup, just to give me an indication of the number of participants.

Also – don’t forget to get your tickets for the conference days – and combine this with a training. We’re already past the visitor count of the 2018 event, so we will most likely be sold out this year!

foss-north 2019: Training Day

The 2019 incarnation of foss-north is less than a month away. This year we’re extending the conference in two directions: a training day and a community day. This time, I wanted to write about the training day.

The training day, April 10, is an additional day for those who want to extend
the conference with a day of dedicated training. I’m very happy to have two experienced and well known trainers on side: Michael Kerrisk and Chris Simmonds. Both has years of training experience.

Michael will teach about the details in dynamic linking. The topic may seem trivial, but when you start scratching the surface, there are a lot of details to discover such as how to handle version compatibility, how symbol resolution really works, and so on. You can read more about the Building and Using Shared Libraries on Linux training here.

Chris will run a getting started with embedded Linux training. Using BeagleBone Black devices the participants will learn how to build linux for the target, how to get devices such as GPIO and i2c working and more. You can read more about the Fast Track to Embedded Linux training here.

The best part of enrolling for training at foss-north is that you also get full access to the two conference days, and that you help fund the conference itself. If you are interested, check out the tickets page.

Last week of early birds!

This is the last week of early bird tickets for foss-north 2019. The program has not yet been set, so getting one of these tickets, you trust us to deliver a great conference – something that we’re very thankful for.

We do have some parts of the schedule fixed: the trainings and some initial speakers.

The trainings are open enrollment courses at a bargain price, where parts of the dividends goes to financing the conference. This year we have two great trainers: Michael Kerrisk of manpage and The Linux Programming Interface fame, and Chris Simmonds, the man behind the Mastering Embedded Linux Programming book and a trainer since more than 15 years. The trainings held are: Building and Using Shared Libraries on Linux and Fast Track to Embedded Linux. These are both one day courses held in a workshop format.

Browsing through the replies to the call for papers, I am convinced that the 2019 foss-north will be the best one this far – and the past three years have been great.

So, get your tickets while they are hot! ;-)

PS. If you want to help out – give me a ping at e8johan – gmail – com. We need a couple of helping hands during the event days to help make sure everything runs smoothly.


fosdem 2019

The first weekend of February means Belgium, Brussels and fosdem. To those of you who has not been there yet, it is a huge, chaotic, crowded, but also wonderful event.

But first I was met by a huge snow storm and the following chaos. :-)

I’ve been to fosdem a number of years now, and I was brave enough to take to the stage last year. In the early days, I spent most time in various dev rooms, either hacking myself or listening to talks. For me, fosdem has changed from this to more of a social event. I’ve spent hours talking the the K-building, made sure to meet people I’ve interacted with online for the first time, and generally hang out and enjoy the company of a lot of smart people.

Another side mission of mine this year was to do some foss-north promotion. As you might know, I’m organizing the foss-north event, and I had the opportunity to meet with both speakers and sponsors during fosdem (call for papers close in ~1.5weeks, just sayin’). I also took the opportunity to hang some flyers at the venue, so hopefully some people discovered the event that way.

As I pointed out earlier, the weather was not that great, but for a few moments on Sunday morning the sun peeked out between the clouds and you could almost feel a sense of spring in the air.

I did not attend that many talks this year, but I did really appreciate Jon maddog Hall‘s talk Fifty years of Unix and Linux advances.

After the event I took the opportunity to visit Brussels with some friends. I finally got around to visit Atomium. Such an amazing place! I love the mix of the 50’s architecture and the contemporary exhibitions in some of the spheres. This place was way better than I expected it to be.

So fosdem delivered again. Chaos, so many meetings with new people as well as old friends and acquaintances, great contents, and a generally great experience in Brussels. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

Get your tickets while they’re hot!

TL;DR; Get your tickets from here!

For the fourth year running, foss-north is taking place. Now bigger than ever.

It all started as a one day conference in a room with too much people in it. We gathered ten speakers and started something that continues to this day.

110 ten people in a room for 110 people.

Back then we, the three organizers: Jeremiah, Mikael and myself, joked over beers that we should have trainings, conference, community rooms and much more. A moderated FOSDEM was a crude description of what we wanted to build. But this was only us dreaming away.

During the past years we’ve tried different venues. We’ve gone from one day, one track to two days and two tracks. This year we decided to go for it all: four days, trainings, a community day and the conference.

Organizing a conference is to manage a chicken and egg type problem. You need speakers to get sponsors, and you need sponsors to get speakers to the venue. The same applies to the audience – visistors wants speakers, speakers wants visitors. This is why it takes time to establish a conference.

Last year we felt that we reached a tipping point – the call for papers was so full that we had to extend the conference with an additional day. We simply could not pick the right contents for a single day. This means that we feel that the conference part is established. If you want to speak, the call for papers is still open.

That takes us to the next steps. The community day consists of various projects and groups organizing workshops, hackathons, install fests, development sprints and whatnot throughout the city. We find venues (usually conference rooms) and projects and hope that people will come visit the various events. Again, starting from zero projects, zero venues and no real idea how many visitors to expect, we are trying to put this together. At the time of writing, it looks great. We have 7 projects and 5 venues fixed, but we are still looking for both projects and venues. If you want to join in, look at our call for projects.

The same logic applies to the training. Now we have training contents, all we need are visitors. The great thing is that our teachers, Michael Kerrisk and Chris Simmonds, are great to work with and understand our situation. Now we just have to work hard to make sure that we find students for them.

The final piece of the puzzle, which is not always visible to speakers and visitors, is the hunt for sponsors. Venues does not come for free, and we believe in compensating our speakers for their costs, thus we need sponsors. We offer the opportunity to host a booth during the conference days and the chance to meet our audience. We also believe that helping a conference focused on free and open source, is a way to contribute to the free and open source movement. For this we have a network of sponsors that we’ve worked with in the past (thank you all!) but as the conference grows, we need more help. If you want to join in, have a look at our call for sponsors

I’ve written a lot about speakers, sponsors and projects. Now all we need are visitors – lots and lots of visitors. So bring your friends to Gothenburg and join us at foss-north. The early bird tickets are available now. Get yours here!

Video Editing for foss-gbg

Editing videos for foss-gbg and foss-north has turned into something that I do on almost a montly basis. I’ve tried a few workflows, but landed in using kdenlive and, when needed, Audacity. I’m not a very advanced audio person, so if kdenlive would incorporate basic noise reduction and a compressor, I stay within one tool.

Before I describe the actual process, I want to mention something about the hardware involved. There are so many things that you can do when producing this type of contents. However, all the pieces that you add to the puzzle is another point of failure. The motto is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Hence, we use a single video camera with an integrated microphone. This is either an action cam, or a JVC video camera. In most cases this just works. In some cases the person talking has a microphone and then we try to place the camera close to a speaker. It has happened that we’ve recorded someone whispering just by the camera‚Ķ

As we don’t have a dedicated microphone for the speaker, we get an audio stream that includes the reaction of the audience. That is in my opinion a good thing. It captures the mood of the event. However, we also get quite a lot of background noise which is bad. For this, I rely on this workflow from Rich Bowen. Basically, I extract the audio stream from the recording, massage it in Audacity, and then re-introduce it.

I’ve found it easier to cut the video prior to fixing the audio. This usually means find the start and the end of the talk, but in some cases it is more complex. E.g. removing parts of the Q&A due to reasons, or cutting out a demo that makes no sense when watching the video.

Once in Audacity, I generally pick out a “silent” part of the recoding to learn a noise profile. I then apply a noise reduction effect to the entire recording. This commonly produces a somewhat distorted sound (like if spoken into a can), but the voice of the speaker comes across nicely. After that, I usually apply a compressor effect to balance the loud and quite parts better. I’ve noticed that speakers often start out with a loud voice, and then softens the voice during the talk. For such cases, the compressor helps. It also helps balancing the sound level during Q&A where the audience might be quite or loud compared to the speaker depending on the layout of the venue.

Once the video and audio are cut and filtered, we need some intro and exit screens. I create these using LibreOffice Impress. I have created a template for the title page with the title of the talk and the name of the speaker, followed by a slide with room for the sponsor logo. This has a white background as logos mix badly with the crazy yellow colour of foss-gbg. Finally there is an exit slide which just says foss-gbg.se. I then export the slides to pdf and use ImageMagick to create pngs from them. Since I’m lazy, I just produce huge pngs that I mogrify to the right size. The entire flow looks like this:

libreoffice --headless --convert-to pdf slides.odp 
convert -density 300 -depth 8 -quality 85 slides.pdf slides.png
mogrify -resize 1920x1080 slides*.png

The very last step of the process is to overlap the intro and exit screens with the start and end of the video in a good way. I mix this with fading the audio in and out. The trickiest is fading in, as it is nice to hear the first words of the speaker but you don’t want the noise from the audience. I’ve found that no matter what, you need to fade in the sound, even if the fade only lasts for a fraction of a second. Fading out is easy as things usually ends in an applause.

Then it is all about clicking render, remembering to change the name of the output file and uploading to the foss-gbg YouTube channel.

Five days left

I use to joke that the last week before foss-north is the worst – everything is done, all that is left is the stress.

This year, we have the broadest program yet. 25 speakers talking about everything from community policies, GPU isolation, blockchain, historical KDE software, retro computers, IoT, Android, SailfishOS, bug triaging, crowd funding, software updates, yocto, home automation, design to sub-atomic particles.

You can still get a ticket (and make sure to bring a friend) at foss-north . Welcome!