FOSDEM 2021 - open source design organisation thread

We spoke briefly about FOSDEM 2021 in the last monthly meeting but here’s our official thread!

FOSDEM 2021 will take place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2021 as an online event.

If people could reply to this if they are interested in doing organisation for FOSDEM 2021 for the open source design community. I expect we’ll need to ask/pitch for a open source design ‘room’ again and I’d appreciate some of the people who have done this before advising how we get a room :smiley:

The kinds of things we’ll need to do once we know if we have a room or not:

  • Create a call for proposals
  • Maintain and decide on the talks accepted and schedule timings
  • Assess any speaker needs. (equipment, wifi/data costs)
  • Virtual booth and virtual ‘UX clinic’?
  • Can we make virtual swag? stickers/twitter/mastodon images? Some kind of photo filter? idk
  • Anything else!

Here is our conference devroom checklist from previous years:

  • :ballot_box_with_check: Submit proposal for Developer Room on | example | Deadline: 6th December
  • ☐ Submit proposal for Stand on #52 | Deadline: 1 November
  • :ballot_box_with_check: See accepted developer rooms announcement on | example | Deadline: 2 October
  • ☐ Create Fosdem 2021 event on | example | Deadline: 12 October (Create event as soon as devroom is accepted)
  • :ballot_box_with_check: Create Fosdem 2021 Call for Participation article on | example | Deadline: As soon as devroom is accepted
    • ☐ Fix the dates for the track when they are announced
  • ☐ Manage the Fosdem 2020 Call for Participation step on Pentabarf | Deadline: 1 December (or earlier)
  • Promote the Call for Participation on Twitter and mailinglists | example | Deadline: 1 December
  • Brainstorm on talks | example | Deadline: 15 December
  • ☐ Create the session proposals review spreadsheet | example | Deadline: 5 December
  • ☐ Send review mail to community members on mailinglist | mail: Session proposals for review - Open Source Design devroom | Deadline: 15 December (or earlier)
  • ☐ The acceptance / rejection notifications to speakers via pentabarf | Deadline: 15 December (or earlier)
  • ☐ Publish developer rooms complete schedules on | example | Deadline: 15 December (or earlier)
  • ☐ Create promotional materials (stickers, banners) for opensourcedesign #43 | Deadline: 15 January
  • ☐ Organize the open source design dinner #62 | Deadline: INSERT-DATE
  • ☐ Handle the devroom logistics videobox | example | Deadline: INSERT_DATE
  • Cover the event on Twitter | example | Deadline: 4-5 Feb
  • ☐ Open Source Design Devroom sessions presenter | Deadline: 2 Feb
  • ☐ Open Source Design Dinner + picture | Deadline: 1 Feb
  • ☐ Open Source Design Devroom picture | example | Deadline: 4-5 Feb
  • ☐ Review the videos recording start/end times for the talks in order to be published
  • ☐ Create FOSDEM 2020 slides folder on opensourcedesign Github example | Deadline: 1 Mar
  • ☐ Submit talks slides on opensourcedesign GitHub| example | Deadline: 1 Mar
  • ☐ Write post event article on | Deadline: 1 Mar
  • ☐ Provide a link to the video recordings | example | Deadline: 31 Jul

Mailing list updates:


[This is a long one!]

Last year @amit.lzkpa and I were the devroom managers so the FOSDEM organisers have sent this email for call for devrooms for FOSDEM 2021:

We now invite proposals for developer rooms.

FOSDEM offers open source and free software developers a place to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Renowned for being highly developer-oriented, the event brings together some 8000+ geeks from all over the world.

The tweny-first edition will take place Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February 2021, online.

Developer rooms are assigned to self-organising groups to work together on open source and free software projects, to discuss topics relevant to a broader subset of the community, etc. Most content should take the form of presentations. Proposals involving collaboration across project or
domain boundaries are strongly encouraged.

For obvious reasons we will unfortunately not be able to run a live conference this year, but we still want to give communities a place to meet online.

We are working on a an online platform (streaming + chat) allowing devroom organizers to run the conference with prerecorded talks with live qa and live presentations with streaming and archiving. The recordings will be published under the same licence as all FOSDEM content (CC-BY)

Developer room proposals should be submitted through the form at which contains further information.

Questions or remarks? Contact us at

Key dates:

31 October - deadline for developer room proposals 
10 November - accepted developer rooms announced
15 November (or earlier) - developer rooms issue Calls for Participation
31 December (or earlier) - developer rooms publish complete schedules

Note that the demand for devrooms may exceed the supply (even for an
online event). By applying for a devroom you are making a commitment to
fill the schedule.

Devroom coordinators must enter a complete schedule into our conference
system by 31st December. It is particularly important to be available
and to respond promptly to emails about the schedule for about a week
either side of this date.

As we also run this event online for the first time, we would like to
get your input on what duration would be good for a devroom: one whole
day, or rather two afternoon sessions?

Please indicate whether you would prefer Saturday, Sunday or both days.
Please let us know what according to you would be an interesting
timespan for your devroom: eg one long slot on Saturday or rather two
shorter slots on Sunday.

They also sent a follow up about their thoughts on how the online FOSDEM should run:

Our basic strategy is to replicate the various elements of the physical event as closely as we can in an online environment. (Well, except for the overcrowding!)

The main thing to appreciate is that the volunteer input required to produce a professional online event will be significantly higher than you may be used to. We expect a typical devroom to need at least 10 volunteers during the event so that people can take breaks.

Devroom managers will be responsible for finding and scheduling volunteers to perform the various roles needed for an online conference.

Until the end of this year, the input required will be similar to normal

  • selecting and scheduling talks. One thing to note here is that use of our systems (e.g. pentabarf) will be compulsory and this includes calls for papers. Systems will change and adapt and we need to be able to contact all speakers directly whenever necessary.

The changes will be noticeable in January, when devroom managers will need to assign specific volunteers to work 1:1 with individual speakers to prepare recordings of their talks. All presentations will need to be pre-recorded and put into our system at least a couple of weeks before the event. We expect live presentations to be a rarity, but even if a speaker intends to deliver their session live, there must be a recording available to use as a fallback if something goes wrong and the live presentation can’t be delivered for any reason.

As regards the features for devrooms, we are thinking along the
following lines:

  • A main stream for each devroom.
    Talks here will be pre-recorded, but questions will be taken live.
  • A second stream for each devroom representing hallway discussions
    that may follow each talk.
  • A facility for people watching to submit questions.
  • A facility for people watching to chat between themselves.

As such, we’re thinking of the following volunteer roles:

Prior to the event:

  • A devroom manager and a deputy responsible for everything below.
    This includes finding, assigning and scheduling all the volunteer roles required.

  • A programme committee to select and schedule the talks.
    This is the same as a normal year.
    Timeline: November/December

  • Reviewers to help the speakers produce their pre-recorded content.
    This is a new role.
    Each speaker will need to be assigned to a reviewer who will be responsible for ensuring the content is put into our system and ready to be broadcast.
    Timeline: January.

During the event itself:

  • Stream controllers, one per stream, responsible for the content of
    the outgoing stream at all times.

    They will switch between inputs (live video rooms, recordings) according to the schedule and intervene (sometimes on video) and make decisions if there are problems.

  • Chat moderators.
    They will be responsible for monitoring the content of the chat and dealing with any problems that arise (including banning people if necessary). There might also be people assigned to answering questions about the devroom content.

  • Session moderators.
    Every speaker will be assigned a moderator who will be responsible for accompanying that speaker’s session, including all the preparation and hallway chat afterwards, including checking the speaker’s video connection is working, monitoring the chat and submitted questions and asking them on video to the speaker. The moderator will have the speaker’s private contact details and make sure they have established contact with them about an hour before their session.

A separate video room will be created for each session. The moderator will meet the speaker (say) 15 minutes before the pre-recorded talk is played, discuss the chat and selection of questions privately with the speaker during the playback, perform the live Q&A by asking the questions on video, then remain in the room for the ‘hallway’ afterwards where they may, if they wish, invite other people directly into the video chat for deeper discussions on the hallway stream. Once the hallway broadcast ends, if participants want to continue the conversation for longer, the video room will remain available (but not streamed or recorded) and the session moderator can close the room, or stay with it for longer, or hand over moderation to the speaker or someone else they trust.

Ideally the Session moderator for any particular speaker would also be the Reviewer in January so a relationship can be established.

Volunteers and speakers will also need to make time available prior to the event to test that they can connect and use (with training) the systems they will need according to their role(s).

Time Zones.

When everyone travelled to Brussels, this part was easy - the event ran on Brussels time.

As an online event, with international speakers and visitors, what should we do? We’re interested in hearing your opinions before we make a decision. Clearly we’ll need to ask speakers for their timezone and hours of availability as this will affect scheduling.

The default position is that we will run the event within a similar envelope to normal. But a wide range of views has been expressed within the team.

Are some potential devrooms influenced by American timezones such that they’d rather start and end later, perhaps splitting across two days with fewer hours in each?

Ought FOSDEM to start a bit later than normal and run later into the evening? 11:00-21:00 Brussels time? Or even take in a bit of Friday or Monday? Should most devrooms be split across two days to reduce the intensity or would that lead to a timetable that’s too chaotic?

So we have some decisions to make!

1 Like

Helllo all,

We have some important decisions to make and deadlines - most pressing is the closing date for the devroom application. It is tomorrow. :alarm_clock:

If no-one else can do it, I’ll do it this evening.

@belenbarrospena can you remind me where the application from previous years is? We can take inspiration from that. :slight_smile:

Here’s the one from last year:
Thanks for posting that on here!

1 Like

Thanks @amit.lzkpa for that. I knew it existed somewhere.

And also thanks to @brownie for contacting me and volunteering to be a devroom manager. :clap:

The application has gone in. I’ve requested one full day as usual, but I’ve also enquired about the possibility of 2 half days as this would be less stressful.


Would love to help out next year too. Thanks for getting the submission in!

Would love to help out in any ways possible.

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I would like the contribute in anyway possible as a designer

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Open Source Design devroom was accepted!

let’s make sure we speak about prep in the next two monthly calls!

Perhaps even some extra calls if we need to to co-ordinate any to-do work?


Oh, great! That’s awesome.

Hi all,

Exact dates are still undefined as the organisers are trying to do a lot to facilitate the 100% remote FOSDEM.

First thing we need to do is to get the Call For Proposals (CfP) put together.

FOSDEM organisers mentioned this is an example of good CfP content because it includes the important information about the change to FOSDEM and the explanation of how the talks will happen.

Here is our Open Source Design FOSDEM CfP from last year.

This year we need to modify our CfP due to the different format, and the extra requirements. The CfP needs to include information to communicate:

  • FOSDEM will not take place in a physical location but online
  • Talks will take place in Brussels local lime (CET)
  • Talks will be pre-recorded in advance, and streamed during the event
  • Question and Answer sessions with speaker and attendees will be take place in CET (Central European Time)
  • A chat for attendees to chat between themselves will be provided (details not available yet)
  • Attendees will be able to submit questions (details not available yet)

For accepted talks:

  • The deadline for uploading talk videos is expected to be in the first two weeks of January (this is to allow enough time to review and process them all before the event)
  • Once a talk is accepted, someone will be assigned to help (a Devroom Talk Volunteer) the speaker to produce the pre-recorded content
  • The Devroom Talk Volunteer will review the content and ensure it has the required quality. They will be responsable to uploaded and ready to broadcast.
  • During the stream of the talk, the speaker must be available online for the Q/A session

We’ll get the CfP created this week and publish it on this week.

The FOSDEM website has been updated with dates for 6th and 7th Feb.
@ei8fdb I think we’re still coordinating about OSD devroom being split between Saturday and Sunday. How do you think we should progress with that for the cfP. I’ve taken a stab at it below. Please update as you find appropriate.

CfP Draft

FOSDEM is the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting, a free and non-commercial two-day weekend event that offers all open source contributors a place to meet, share ideas, learn and collaborate.

After 6 successful years we will host another design devroom at FOSDEM 2021 (virtually)!

The Open Source Design devroom will take place online first weekend of February 2021 (6th and 7th).

There will be talks about design work on free, libre and open source projects. We invite you to send in your submissions about design work on free, libre and open source projects.

We mean ‘design’ in the broadest sense: user research, interface and interaction design, information architecture, visual design, typography, illustration, iconography, spatial, accessibility (and anything you can think of) – all in the context of open source projects, which we believe introduces unique challenges.

Designers and developers working with designers (or on a design-minded project) are welcome to submit proposals.

Possible topics include:

  • FOSS design tools
  • Unique challenges that open source brings
  • Design techniques and deliverables
  • Design/engineering collaboration approaches
  • User engagement and design research activities
  • Project case studies
    In the past we’ve had talks about getting designers involved in open source, accessibility in open source, application design and development, beyond logos, architectural font digitisation and design and lots more.

If you’re interested in seeing all previous talks, have a look at the schedule, and videos for previous years (links below).

Talk submission details

  • The reference time will be Brussels local lime (CET).
  • Talks will be pre-recorded in advance, and streamed during the event. Speakers would be responsible for recording their talks.
  • Q/A session will be take live.
  • A facility will be provided for people watching to chat between themselves.
  • A facility will be provided for people watching to submit questions.

For accepted talks:

  • The deadline for uploading talk videos is expected to be in the first two weeks of January.
  • The talk will be reviewed to ensure it has the required quality.
  • During the stream of the talk, the speaker must be available online for the Q/A session.
  • Final timeslot will be coordinated with speakers after all talks have been finalized.

By submitting a proposal you consent to be recorded and agree to license the content of your talk under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) license.

What and how to submit

Submission format: 20-minute presentations

Proposal submission deadline: 26th December 2020

Video submission deadline: 9th January 2021

How to submit

All submissions are made in the Pentabarf event planning tool at:

When submitting your talk in Pentabarf, when asked for the ‘Track’, you must select the ‘Open source design devroom’.

If you already have a Pentabarf account from a previous year, please reuse it: create an account only if you don’t have one from a previous year.

If you have any issues with Pentabarf, do not despair, please contact the devroom manager.

Open Source Design

The Open Source Design Devroom is co-ordinated by the Open Source Design community.
Check out the links below to learn more about us

Examples of past talks

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@SaptakS @digitalforus @Erioldoesdesign @ei8fdb

We had a devroom volunteer assigned last year. Bernard and I did it last year.
Would anyone like to volunteer?

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How does it work? I would like to volunteer


It is primarily about coordinating talk proposals and coordinating with FOSDEM to have a defined scheduled on the day of the event. This year it being online there are gonna be things that’s new for everyone I guess. But it should be simple enough to follow along.
Would be happy to setup a call and discuss in detail.


I would be happy to join a call with you also. My mail address is;

I’m available from 8:30am - 12:00pm WAT.

It’s 12:27am here already

Awesome. Today it’ll be a little difficult. Would 11 PM WAT on Friday work for you?

@ei8fdb @Erioldoesdesign @SaptakS if anyone would like to join, please let us know if that time is


Yes it will work, please do send me a meeting invite via mail

I already spoke with @ei8fdb about this, and we are supposed to come up with the CFP but seems like you already did,and so far it does look good which is helpful. Thank you so much. I’ll try to get in touch with @ei8fdb for the next step.

That will be a bit too late for me so might not be able to join the call, but I will catch up on the notes and happy to do volunteer bit whatever is needed.