Mar 16

Some impressions of a flourishing community – bits from the MiniDebConf Curitiba @ Montreal

Last month I more-or-less accepted an invitation that got me scared at first, panicking after a while. Why do I put myself in such an uncomfortable position? Well, I think that’s how we grow up 😉

I was first contacted to talk about women participation in Debian, which I kindly refused, but I said I would maybe talk about motivating new contributors, possibly with some more friends that would maybe join me at the stage. I need to confess that at that moment I had no idea (ok, a vague idea…) about what I was going to talk. So I promptly emailed some Debian friends, shared the invitation, shared some thoughts, got feedbacks, got encouragement, and we finally made it!


For the video conference we used mconf.org which worked super well (the downside is that it requires flash, maybe you could help them get rid of it?). I had also recorded a backup video with vokoscreen, just in case Murphy would decide to go to Curitiba… but everything worked well. We a single moment with connection issues, but the torrent user kindly released the bandwidth…

The main point I made in the talk is that Debian as a Universal Operating System is still an utopia, especially when we extend our understanding of universality to our contributors. And as an utopia, it serves to make us walk! The more we advance, the more it gets further away, so we need to keep walking. Another important point was that diversity is not an issue that touches only woman. My audience was full of Portuguese native speakers, from a third world country, a few women, many more man, a couple of DDs, some longtime contributors, some newbies, and most of them are also part of minorities in our community. I bet many of them has already felt like a weed growing surrounded by concrete at least once in their lifetimes…

Solidarity towards our utopia was my final message. Just for fun, and to make a recap of our conversation at the end, I made a list of 10 steps that we could all give to contribute to a more universal Debian:

1. Read our Social Contract and make sure we are all at the same page
2. Improve Debian documentation
3. Remember that diversity does not concern only women
4. Keep an eye on minority groups and show solidarity
5. Be open and alert to the needs of newbies
6. Help Debian teams to be prepared to welcome new contributors
7. Reserve part of our time to integrate new members to the community
8. Promote hands-on meetings (local and remote)
9. Promote peer-mentoring among newbie contributors
10. Do not see Debian members as special beings, we are all humans!

You can check my slides or the video of the live transmission if you want to see more. In case you can not follow the audio, I’d be happy to provide subtitles (but I probably won’t work on that if I don’t receive have any request). And if you invite me to another conference, we can have a similar chat at with your community. Note: in person is more fun 😉

Finally, I’d like to thank the participants of the mini-DebConf, those that followed this session and those who were practicing how to package on the other room, Paulo Santana and all the local organization team for the invitation, Ana Guerrero and Laura Arjona for the remote support and feedback, Andreas Tille for the efforts in integrating new contributors, Christian Perrier for the developer statistics, Valéssio for being in the audience and the Debian Project for the inspiration.

What we had we Brazil this weekend was a taste of a flourishing and welcoming community, I am proud and honored to be part of it!

Aug 15

Report from the MicroDebconf Brasília 2015

This was an event organized due to a coincidental meeting of a few DD’s in the city of Brasilia on May 31st 2015. What a good thing when we can mix vacations, friends and Debian 😉

MicroDebConf BSB group photo

We called it Micro due to its short duration and planning phase, to be fair with other Mini DebConfs that take a lot more of organization. We also ended up having a translation sprint inside the event that attracted contributors from other cities.

Our main goal was to boost the local community and bring new contributors to Debian. And we definitely made it!

The meeting happened at University of Brasilia (UnB Gama). It started with a short presentation where each DD and Debian contributor presented their involvement with Debian and plans for the hacking session. This was an invitation for new contributors to choose the activities they were willing to engage, taking advantage of being guided by more experienced people.

Then we moved to smaller rooms where participants were split in different groups to work on each track: packaging, translation and community/contribution. We all came together later for the keysigning party.

Some of the highlights of the day:

  • ~40 participants, from which ~10 were already engaged in the Debian community
  • hands-on packaging tutorial
  • 4 new packages uploaded
  • from the 6 brazilian names annouced as new contributors in the DPN just after the meeting, 4 were among us in Brasília
  • hands-on translation tutorial
  • newbie translators paired with more experienced ones, numerous translations committed
  • discussion about chalenges of migrating debianArt to Noosfero
  • initial setup of Collab.Debian (with Noosfero), aiming to facilitate contributions of users to the Debian project (this platform was offcially released at DC15 lightining talks (46:00))
  • first keysigning party for many of the participants
  • first time some longterm Brazilian contributors had the change to meet in person

For more details of what happened, you can read our full report.

The MicroDebconf wouldn’t be possible without the support of prof. Paulo Meirelles from UnB Gama and all the LAPPIS team for the local organization and students mobilization. We also need to thank to Debian donnors, who covered the travel costs of one of our contributors.

Last but not least, thanks to our participants and the large Brazilian community who is giving a good example of team work. A similar meeting happened in July during the Free Software International Forum (FISL) and another one is already planned to happen in October as part of the LatinoWare.

I hope I can join those folks again in the near future!

Apr 14

Mini-Debconf Barcelona videos now available

Hello world!!!

For those who were impatiently waiting for the Mini-Debconf Barcelona videos, there you go, enjoy it!

We’ll probably have subtitles and some late slides soon, so come back after a while.

Thank you very much for all those who make this adventure possible!

If you also want to thank the videoteam, the orgateam, Debian Women, or the Universe, for converging and bringing us together in Barcleona, please do it!

Just for the records, it was a great success in terms of women participation. As we didn’t collect gender information at the registration, it is hard to make a clear comparison with previous Debconfs. Since 2007, the rate of non-male participants ranged from 13% to 17%. For this Mini-Debconf, the orga team did the gender identification per name and found a non-male rate of 36%. Again, since the methods were not the same we cannot safely compare, but still, I think it’s worth it to make this info public 😉

The most important thing to save from this experience is that we were around 160 human beings together, sharing common goals, in a lovely and warm place, with kids around, baby trollers on the stage, painting table in the patio… yes it was fun!

BCN group photo - first try

BCN group photo – first try

BCN group photo - second try

BCN group photo – second try

Last but not least, now we need to gather information for a final report, so if you can help, please speak up!

Hope to see you all soon!