After I came back to my home city (Brasília) I felt the necessity to promote and help people to contribute to Debian, some old friends from my former university (Univesrity of Brasília) and the local comunnity (Debian Brasília) came up with the idea to run a Debian related event and I just thought: “That sounds amazing!”. We contacted the university to book a small auditorium there for an entire day. After that we started to think, how should we name the event? The Debian Day was more or less one month ago, someone speculated a MiniDebConf but I thought that it was going to be much smaller than regular MiniDebConfs. So we decided to use a term that we used sometime ago here in Brasília, we called MicroDebConf :)

MicroDebConf Brasília 2018 took place at Gama campus of University of Brasília on September 8th. It was amazing, we gathered a lot of students from university and some high schools, and some free software enthisiastics too. We had 44 attendees in total, we did not expect all these people in the begining! During the day we presented to them what is Debian Project and the many different ways to contribute to it.

Since our focus was newcommers we started from the begining explaining how to use Debian properly, how to interact with the community and how to contribute. We also introduced them to some other subjects such as management of PGP keys, network setup with Debian and some topics about Linux kernel contributions. As you probably know, students are never satisfied, sometimes the talks are too easy and basic and other times are too hard and complex to follow. Then we decided to balance the talks level, we started from Debian basics and went over details of Linux kernel implementation. Their feedback was positive, so I think that we should do it again, atract students is always a challenge.

In the end of the day we had some discussions regarding what should we do to grow our local community? We want more local people actually contributing to free software projects and specially Debian. A lot of people were interested but some of them said that they need some guidance, the life of a newcommer is not so easy for now.

After some discussion we came up with the idea of a study group about Debian packaging, we will schedule meetings every week (or two weeks, not decided yet), and during these meetings we will present about packaging (good practices, tooling and anything that people need) and do some hands-on work. My intention is document everything that we will do to facilitate the life of future newcommers that wants to do Debian packaging. My main reference for this study groups has been LKCamp, they are a more consolidated group and their focus is to help people start contributing to Linux kernel.

In my opinion, this kind of initiative could help us on bring new blood to the project and disseminate the free software ideas/culture. Other idea that we have is to promote Debian and free software in general to non technical people. We realized that we need to reach these people if we want a broader community, we do not know how exactly yet but it is in our radar.

After all these talks and discussions we needed some time to relax, and we did that together! We went to a bar and got some beer (except people with less than 18 years old :) and food. Of course that ours discussions about free software kept running all night long.

The following is an overview about this conference:

  • We probably defined this term and are the first organizing a MicroDebConf (we already did it in 2015). We should promote more this kind of local events

  • I guess we inspired a lot of young people to contribute to Debian (and free software in general)

  • We defined a way to help local people starting contributing to Debian with packaging. I really like this idea of a study group, meet people in person is always the best way to create bonds

  • Now we hopefully will have a stronger Debian community in Brasília - Brazil \o/

Last but not least, I would like to thank LAPPIS (a research lab which I was part in my undergrad), they helped us with all the logistics and buroucracies, and Collabora for the coffee break sponsorship! Collabora, LAPPIS and us share the same goal: promote FLOSS to all these young people and make our commuity grow!