Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Libre Software World Conference instead of Open Source World Conference

Every year it used to take place in Spain a big software libre conference. One year it was celebrated in Extremadura and the other one in Andalucía (Málaga). The Málaga one, called Open Source World Conference had over seven thousand atendees during the three days conference in 2008. This year was announced for October 27th and 28th a few months ago. KDE along with more than a hundred organizations were going to give talks, demos, participate in round tables, etc.

Many companies from ASOLIF, the National Federation of Free Software SME from Spain, the organization I work for, were preparing contents for that conference, and some representatives from our Andalucía Association, Andalibre, and myself has been involved in organicing our presence there since early February. Like it happens in any other big conference, it takes a lot of work to have everything ready in time and there are many things you cannot wait until the last minute to solve.

During the OSWC, ASOLIF was going to celebrate our internal meeting, called IV Encuentro ASOLIF, that take place every six months. 75 of our companies were expected to come to Malaga from all over Spain. During these meetings, we coordinate the actions and projects we are working on and we celebrate meetings with public administration, big companies and other entities interested in collaborating with us.

On October 6th, the Andalucía's Regional Goverment, the OSWC organicer, suddenly announced the cancellation of the event. This meant that all the work we were preparing had no meaning and was going to be lost. Our companies were shocked, just like I was.

Two days later, after a lot of internal disscussion, ASOLIF did agree on leading the organization of a public event during October 27th and the IV Encuentro ASOLIF on October 28th in Málaga. For doing this, we made an open call for help and many other organizations and individuals got involved on it: colleges, LUGs, media, developers, etc. The open collaboration mode worked well. The City Council of Málaga helped us by letting us use the Malaga Congress Palace for the event.

So after 19 days of hard work, we were able to kick off what it was called de Libre Software World Conference (LSWC) in the same place and time the OSWC was supposed to happen. In the four tracks we of the event, more than 60 members of different companies, universities, local and regional goverments, etc. were involved. About three hundred people attended and about 30 ASOLIF companies could show their products in demos. About 50% of the contents involved ASOLIF members and the other 50% were given by other entities. KDE Spain was one of them (Antonio Larrosa did it...yes...he's back :-) ).

The following day, ASOLIF celebrated its IV Encuentro ASOLIF and about 40 companies from all over Spain showed up. So the whole adventure ended up being a great success.

I've been quiet busy the last month trying, along with other people, to organice in a few weeks what it usually takes a few months....but we did it quiet well so all the work was worth it. It is the first time our organization leads the celebration of a partly commercial oriented event. We already have plans to repeat the experience next year. With more time and money we know now we can do a good job.

Bussines around free software is not an exception anymore so we feel there is room for a more commercial oriented event in Spain. We want to bring different profiles to it without losing the hacking way of doing things that works so well for networking purposes in community oriented events.

It was good news that KDE Spain did a KDE 4 demo during the LSWC. Many enterpreneurs attended to it. But it was even better news that most of the speakers used KDE. Some tweets reflected this fact. It was unexpected to most. I knew we had a bigger penetration in commercial enviroments than in public administrations (GNOME rules there) here in Spain, but I was also surprised of our presence being so notorious. As I've said many times before, I think companies should be our major target here in Spain. More and more people agree on it and we are trying to focus some energy in that target.
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