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Debconf 13

I’ve recently returned from Debconf 13, in Vaumarcus in Switzerland. My colleague Ian Campbell joined me there.

Debconf is the annual conference for contributors to Debian, with a few hundred attendees. There’s a fairly standard conference format with a programme of talks and BoF sessions, but the best part of of a Debconf is usually the ad-hoc conversations with other developers. Often thorny design problems involving multiple parts of the system can be tackled much more effectively in person, so there’s quite a bit of vigorous handwaving and the odd whiteboard/flipchart session.

We had an excellent time and spent rather too much of it staring at the amazing view of Lake Neuchatel. Debian’s 20th birthday party was not to be missed either.

This year’s Debconf found a substantial offering of cloudy topics on the schedule. One major theme was the ways in which Debian are working on better integration with the big public clouds, for example by providing ready-to-use images and by better packing of cloud-related software.

Of particular interest for Xen was Thomas Goirand’s talk on the integration between OpenStack’s various components. OpenStack is a complicated piece of software which has been difficult to install and get running. Thomas, who runs a Xen-based public cloud provider, has been working to make the installation process smoother using Debian’s configuration management systems.

For me, an interesting topic was the continuing difficulty of integration between the Debian archive (Debian’s primary software repository) and git, and after a session in the bar with Joey Hess and others I wrote a tool to help with that.

Debconf is always a highlight of my year and I look forward to next year’s in Portland.


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