One thousand at European Open Source Conference

by Andy Oram

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The physical setting at the Free University of Brussels at Solbosch in Brussels is gritty, but the technical content is top quality and Internet access is good here at the

Free and Open Source Software Developers' Meeting
. The conference was started last year and was planned as a small, local event but attracted several hundred people. This year it registered 1000 people yesterday and another 600 so far today.

Brussles is a logical place for a European conference. It is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the world, with a quarter of its populartion being foreigners who work for the European Union or numerous other organizations. Also because of this central location, train service is convenient to any place in Europe. It takes only a little longer to get here from London than to get from Boston to New York City.

As the keynote yesterday morning, Richard Stallman gave his standard defense of the morality of free software--but with a few new twists as always. The other big political issue is software patents, because the European Union is expected to support them in a statement to be released this coming Wednesday. Anger is high at the conference here, and programmers are talking of trying organized a political opposition to the change that they see has produced such disruption and waste of energy in the United States.

Technical talks include such topics as new tools for encryption (Vincent Rijmen came to talk about Rijndael, for instance), advances in the GNOME and KDE desktops (Miguel de Icaza is here, along with a couple other GNOME developers), the importance of secure programming, and (at the end of the day today) my own talk, which is billed as being about peer-to-peer but could be more accurately described as a list of suggestions for improving Internet-connected computers.