Our first FOSDEM

Sarah Gran, Dan Fernelius
Feb 9, 2024

The Free and Open Source Developers' European Meeting, or FOSDEM is a massive, free conference that takes place in Brussels, Belgium each year. It began in 2000 and has a reputation for being 1) packed with more than 5,000 people, 2) jam-packed with a huge amount of talks in just two days, and 3) somehow, amongst the crowds and drizzle, an experience that leaves you feeling hopeful about the good free and open software can create for people all around the world.

2024 was our very first FOSDEM. For many of the folks we met, it was their first time seeing Let's Encrypt somewhere other than their computer screen. The takeaway? A lot of people know about and appreciate Let's Encrypt.

From "you made my life so much easier" to "honestly I can't even believe I used to manually do all of this," we had the opportunity to hear from nearly 2,000 people in the span of two days. For a conference where conversational nuances about technical quirks and niche ideas abound, we also heard the sentiment, "You made it so easy to solve this problem and it just works, there's nothing to talk about!" Au contraire, mon ami.

We didn't attend FOSDEM just representing Let's Encrypt but also its parent nonprofit, ISRG and two sibling projects, Divvi Up and Prossimo. It was wonderful to be able to share a bit more about how we're advancing our mission of building a more secure and privacy-respecting Web. If you, like a few folks we talked to, aren't up to speed on ISRG, take a read through our 2023 annual report.

In this post-pandemic world where gathering together takes on a whole new calculus, FOSDEM was a uniquely refreshing experience; not because everything was polished and perfect (for a while, our QR code pictured below wasn't working!); not because the February weather in Belgium is idyllic; but because this conference lets an often overlooked part of tech and software shine: the people behind it.

We left FOSDEM feeling so proud of our teams' and community's work and grateful for the chance to spend some time face-to-face with so many folks in our global community. Thank you to the dedicated all-volunteer crew who made FOSDEM such a meaningful experience!