29 September 2023

DebConf 2023

DebConf23 https://debconf23.debconf.org/ took place from 2023-09-10 to –17 in Kochi, India. 

Four employees (three Debian developers) from NetApp had the opportunity to participate in the annual event, which is the most important conference in the Debian world: Christoph Senkel, Andrew Lee, Michael Banck and Noël Köthe. 


What is DebCamp? DebCamp usually takes place a week before DebConf begins. For participants, DebCamp is a hacking session that takes place just before DebConf. It’s a week dedicated to Debian contributors focusing on their Debian-related projects, tasks, or problems without interruptions. 

DebCamps are largely self-organized since it’s a time for people to work. Some prefer to work individually, while others participate in or organize sprints. Both approaches are encouraged, although it’s recommended to plan your DebCamp week in advance. 

During this DebCamp, there are the following public sprints: 

  • Debian Boot Camp: An introduction for newcomers on how to contribute to Debian more deeply. 
  • GPG keys 101: Get your keys ready for DebConf’s key signing party: An introduction to PGP/GPG keys and the web of trust, primarily targeting those new to Debian who don’t have a GPG key yet.  

In addition to the organizational part, our colleague Andrew also attended and arranged private sprints during DebCamp: 

  • Debian Installer hacking: Debian installer is a complex project with multiple components. We had an on-site d-i hacker, Alper Nebi Yasak, who guided us in addressing issues specific to zh_TW locale users in the Debian installer. 
  • LXQt/LXDE hacking session: LXQt and LXDE are lightweight desktop environments for Linux users. Our colleague Andrew Lee leads the LXQt team in Debian and also provided assistance to the LXDE team in the absence of their original team leader from Ukraine. 

It also allows the DebConf committee to work together with the local team to prepare additional details for the conference. During DebCamp, the organization team typically handles the following tasks: 

  • Setting up the Frontdesk: This involves providing conference badges (with maps and additional information) and distributing SWAG such as food vouchers, conference t-shirts, and sponsor gifts. 
  • Setting up the network: This includes configuring the network in conference rooms, hack labs, and video team equipment for live streaming during the event. 
  • Accommodation arrangements: Assigning rooms for participants to check in to on-site accommodations. 
  • Food arrangements: Catering to various dietary requirements, including regular, vegetarian, vegan, halal, gluten-free (regular, vegetarian, vegan), and accommodating special religious and allergy-related needs. 
  • Setting up a conference bar: Providing a relaxed environment for participants to socialize and get to know each other. 
  • Writing daily announcements: Keeping participants informed about ongoing activities. 
  • Organizing day trip options. 
  • Arranging parties. 

Conference talks 

The conference itself started on Sunday 10. September with an opening, some organizational stuff, GPG keysigning information (the fingerprint was printed on the badge) and a big welcome to everyone onsite and in the world. 

Most talks of DebConf were live streamed and are available in the video archive. The topics were broad from very technical (e.g., “What’s new in the Linux kernel”) over organizational (e.g., “DebConf committee”) to social (e.g., “Adulting”). 

Schedule: https://debconf23.debconf.org/schedule/ 

Videos: https://meetings-archive.debian.net/pub/debian-meetings/2023/DebConf23/ 

Thanks a lot, to the voluntarily organized video team for this video transmission coverage. 

Lightning Talks 

On the last day of DebConf, the traditional lightning talks were held. One talk in particular was noticed, the presentation of extrepo by Wouter Verhelst. At NetApp, we use bookworm-based Debian ThinkPad’s. However, in a corporate environment, non-packaged software needs to be used from time to time, and extrepo is a very elegant way to solve this problem by providing, maintaining and keeping UpToDate a list of 3rd-party APT repositories like Slack or Docker Desktop. 


On Tuesday, an incredibly special lunch was offered at DebConf: a traditional Kerala vegetarian banquet (Sadya in Maralayam), which is served on a banana leaf and eaten by hand. It was quite unusual for the European part of the attendees at first, but a wonderful experience once one got into it. 


On Wednesday, the Daytrip happened and everybody could choose out of five different trips: https://wiki.debian.org/DebConf/23/DayTrip  

The houseboat trip was a bus tour to Alappuzha about 60 km away from the conference venue. It was interesting to see (and hear) the typical bus, car, motorbike and Tuktuk road traffic in action. During the boat trip the participants socialized and visited the local landscape outside the city. 

Unfortunately, we had an accident at one of the daytrip options. Abraham a local Indian participant drowned while swimming.  


It was a big shock for everybody and all events including the traditional formal dinner were cancelled for Thursday. The funeral with the family was on Friday morning and DebConf people had the opportunity with organized buses to participate and say goodbye. 

NetApp internal dinner on Friday 

The NetApp team at DebConf wanted to take the chance to go to a local restaurant (“were the locals go eating”) and enjoyed very tasty food. 


Sunday was the last day of DebConf23. As usual, the upcoming DebConf24 was very briefly presented and there was a call for bids for DebConf25. 

Maybe see you in Haifa, Israel next year. 




Authors: Andrew Lee, Michael Banck and Noël Köthe 

Categories: Events
Tags: DebConf Debian Event Open Source


About the author

Noël Köthe

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