#blog #trip #event #talks #fosdem


@orb 📆 February 2, 2023 🍿 7 min read

Once a year, every year (almost), Redbrick makes a pilgrimage to the tech conference to end all tech conferences: FOSDEM.

Located in the scenic city of Brussels, Belgium, FOSDEM happens at the start of February every year. It is a rite of passage for brickies; you haven’t earned your brick until you’ve witnessed the carefree widdling of the Manneken Pis, or had a few scoops in Delirium - not to mention collected more than a few hexagonal stickers at the main event itself.

DAY 1 - 2nd February 2023

After months of painstaking planning, grappling with C&S and cutting up debit cards, the trip is finally about to happen. Of course, I wasn’t on the committee at this time, and was more than happy to reap the fruits of their labour.

At around 5PM, the brickies convened outside Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport. Those who hadn’t organised their boarding passes were promptly instructed to do so, but after making sure all the ducks were lined up, Andreea was happy to lead us to the Burger King for a quick pre-flight snack. Not everyone was satisfied with just a burger and chips, though. Tell me, have you ever had a pint of Guinness?


After a quick hop across the water, it was straight onto the train for the brickmeisters, and a double-decker, no less. Naturally enough, everyone scrambled for the top deck to continue the shenanigans that had been interrupted by the flight.


Nice glasses, Phil. You wouldn’t be about to offer me a red or blue pill?

After arriving on the right side of Brussels, we made our way to the hotel. As soon as we had acquainted ourselves with our rooms, we were out on the streets, exploring the city.

A few bricklets found Tier scooters which could be used for free for a time, to get around on.


Finding we hadn’t spent enough time in the hotel, we made our way back inside to scope out the menu. Much to our delight, drinks were on offer. We decided to kick back for a while and order up. I got a nice cider, though unfortunately I lack any ability to pour.


Not a particularly flattering picture on either count.

The exploration continues…


After a quick scout around outside earlier, we had found a playground next door. Being the children we are, we decided to take a quick gander, and some of the more nimble among us decided to brave the climbing tower.

brick-monkeys Shane and Boris, A.K.A. pluto and watz

At this point in the night, most had retreated to their bunks, and were sleeping soundly.

Day 2 - 3rd February 2023

After a quick breakfast, the adventures continued. At this point, the brick enclave was split into a number of smaller brick troupes, to cover more ground and explore the city through many eyes. My group consisted of Leo, Frankie, Dzastina, Malachy, and of course, yours truly.

Our first stop was Brussels Main Square, a stunning example of some of the architecture to be seen in the city.



From left to right: arkues, bones, fbaxter, orb. skins behind camera.



The fact the tops of the buildings shown above are getting cut off is by no means intentional - they really are they immense.

After admiring the views there, we moved on to the Museum of Illusions, for just a smidgen of tomfoolery…




The Fly but tamer. Even so, an amalgam of myself and Leo - a scary prospect.


Shun the gravity-obeyer!


No escape…

Moving swiftly on from the terrifying idea of being stuck in a Malachy-prism, we moved along to the Manneken Pis. He’s just a lil’ guy. Just a eensie-weensie dude in need of the loo.

baxterjakFrankie particularly enjoyed our visit, probably owing to the fact the Manneken Pis was looking particularly dapper on this occasion.

Finding ourselves with plenty of time left, and plenty of chocolate-themed attractions nearby, we made our way to the Chocolate Museum.


Someday I hope to be half as cool as this French bulldog made of chocolate.


There was a little green screen in the middle of it all, and a few props to take photos with.its-clobberin-time

Naturally, myself and Malachy made full use of this.


Old metal moulds used for making chocolate figures. Quite cool, all the ones I’ve ever seen used have been plastic.


At the end of our tour, we got to try some single-origin chocolates; chocolate where all the beans used to make them have been sourced from single locations, as opposed to blended like most chocolate.

After finishing up and leaving the museum, we spotted a Ferris wheel in the distance. It was still pretty early at this point, we made the decision to walk to it.

A long walk and a short hike later, we found ourselves at the foot of the Ferris wheel. We had come quite a distance from our hotel at this point, and the view over the city was brilliant in spite of the overcast weather. Nothing we’re not used to from home.


Not everyone was quite as pleased to have made it this far; in particular Leo, who was not a fan of heights, was somewhat reluctant to join us as we went up. But he went anyway. Fair dues.


Yes, those are his hands gripping the bar as we go up.


All in all, worth the trip. We got some waffles and Nutella after for the road. Messy as they were, they didn’t last long enough to get a picture of them. Hunger is a great sauce, as they say.

At this point, we were well ready to be making tracks back to base.
I think it’s fair to say we were all looking forward to Delirium…

As these things go, we stopped by the hotel first to regroup with the other brickeronis, and in the time we had been away Philip had mastered the art of the bad pour, besting my attempts at a good pour to end up with this (cursed) masterpiece:
Nearly a perfect inversion of what a pint should be, so bad it’s actually impressive.

The events of the intervening hours remain a point of contention, and I’ll leave it to people who were sobererer than me to fill you in on the details - I remember drinks being spilled, absinthe being lit up and drank, a crowded basement with thousands of beers, and Frankie having more than his fair share of strong cactus beer.

The aforementioned cactus beer is the same frobscottle-looking liquid in the foreground of this picture.

I do remember one last thing before the lights went out-

Ah, Delirium. It’s like paint thinner; does what it says on the tin.

Day 3 - 4th February 2023

We were up relatively early to make the most of our day out in FOSDEM. It wasn’t the nicest morning, though no worse than at home.

We stopped at a corner shop for a few cans of Red Bull to help with the tiredness and sore heads. A short trip on the Weiner bus later, we were at the main event: FOSDEM.

Weiner Bus

Hosted in Université Libre De Bruxelles, or ULB for short, we walked through the main entrance and were greeted with hot food stands and a campus that just a bit bigger than DCU. Actually a lot.

Soggy Dom
A slight soggy Dom sees FOSDEM for the first time.

With lots to do, we made a beeline to the main building, where throngs of people were lined up to get their very own FOSDEM t-shirt. It was a very long line, but I figured it was worth the wait.

(I had actually planned to put a picture here, but after trawling through my camera roll there was only one, and that one was not going here. Sorry. It’s a cool t-shirt, neon green text on the front and the purple FOSDEM logo in the back.)

Making my way through the building, I came to the first set of stands. There were a number of projects, and company stand alike, and plenty of mascots, goodies and stickers to be collected.

Postgresql mascot with Boris
PostgreSQL Elephant with Boris, doling out mints. Nice dude.
VLC Man with Conor Joyce
Bright orange, and ready for all your media. It’s VLC man, here to save the day.

Malachy and I spun the wheel on separate occasions at the VLC stand and won the top prize:
skins and orb wearing VLC hats
Have to say, Malachy wore it better. Really brings out his autumnal complexion.

Some other stands:
Linux on mobile stand
Linux on a phone
Linux, on mobile!
CQ QSO Stand
CQ QSO Stand 2
The CQ-QSO stand, focused on radio transmission. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I like it!
MNT Pocket Reford Stand
A mini-PC, called the MNT Pocket Reform. Looks very like a GPD, I’m a big fan.

I didn’t attend too many talks on day 1, but I do have some pictures:
Lettuce ask some questions...
FOSS is just communism in disguise
Don’t forget, FOSS is communism!
How to set up a minecraft server slide
Some brickies attended this talk on making a Minecraft server, and the rest is history…