Being TYPO3 at foss-north

Categories: Event Report Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Brick houses surrounding an open square. One entrance says "Chalmers" in all uppercase letters.
The foss-north conference took place at the Chalmers Conference Center in Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo: Mathias Bolt Lesniak (CC-BY)
On my way to the TYPO3 General Assembly, I attended foss-north, a two-day free and open source (FOSS) conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. It is organized in collaboration with the Free Software Foundation Europe, and provides an opportunity for Nordic FOSS communities to talk about hardware and software from a technical perspective.

Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast, is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of Northern Europe, located on the axis of a burgeoning international business region spanning from Hamburg, Germany, to Oslo, Norway. With the headquarters of Volvo Cars, the city is also a center for the growing automotive open-source software business.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak attended foss-north in Gothenburg, Sweden, 15–16 April 2024, for the TYPO3 Association, as a part of the Meet TYPO3 initiative. Mathias is theTYPO3 project ambassador. See upcoming Meet TYPO3 events.

A Touch More Individualistic

I attend a lot of conferences, and something that strikes me as different at general open-source conferences, compared with open-source CMS events, or frankly any other kind of conference, is that these conferences seem to be much more individualistic. While many conferences print both name and company in large letters on the name badge, the foss-north badges showed the attendee’s name only. This gives the impression that those attending were representing themselves, and not a business, initiative, or project.

Maybe it is because the topic of open source is so broad. Or perhaps because open source outside of the CMS space is so much more technical. Indeed, the foss-north conference intentionally focusses on a technical perspective. I felt I was missing a community perspective, and while previous foss-north events have included a Community Day, it was missing from the event this year. (I hear it will be back next year and that will be a welcome inclusion.)

Spanning Widely, FOSS is Corporate and Personal

The speakers at the conference appeared to represent two distinct groups:

  • Large corporations or foundations talking about how they use open source or how one of their projects will solve a particular open-source problem.
  • Individuals talking about their most recent open source experience — and often how corporations and commercial interests are ruining the landscape.

In this way, the stories told at foss-north spanned widely. It was impressive to hear how AMD is reducing an AI’s resource usage by a factor of more than 4000. A very admirable result indeed, considering the large amounts of energy consumed by data centers.

A vastly more individualistic impression came from another speaker, who presented the case that his favorite programming language is increasingly being taken over by commercial freemium and the corporate version of the Benevolent Dictator For Life. He was also steadfastly resistant to GitHub, refusing even to submit bug reports and patches through the platform.

Countries Need to Look After Their Open Source Projects

From my perspective, the most interesting talk at the event came towards the end of the final day. In Software Reuse through Open Source Software in the Public Sector — A birds-eye view on Policy and Practice, Johan Linåker and Sachiko Muto looked at the results of a survey of 16 countries that are considered mature in their digital practices.

The speakers made a long list of recommendations on how countries can implement strong software reuse policies. Software reuse here, of course, implies open source. The talk has been published on YouTube and I encourage you to view it.

The most important conclusion was that countries need to focus not only on open-source adoption, but also on governance and support of the projects. OSPOs (Open Source Program Offices) can play an important role here, and I think establishing government OSPOs will be important for the success of TYPO3’s projects with less digitally mature governments through the TYPO3 Community Expansion Committee.

Additional contributors for this article
  • Copy Editor : Felicity Brand
  • Content Publisher : Mathias Bolt Lesniak