Another year, another FOSDEM. The smell of warm geek in the morning. A blustery and wintery Brussels. Beer at the slutty nun (not its real name). Overcrowding. Realizing the one talk you really wanted to attend started ten minutes ago because you were talking to someone you remember from last year’s FOSDEM.

While the event is great fun, it is also under strain from its own success. The beer event is unbearably loud; while you can nod at people and hang out with your own crowd, as a social integration event it seems to be missing. Maybe I’m getting old and would prefer dinner with some wine to meet people over shouting at them and spilling beer.

The KDE stand itself was enormous and well-staffed; Wendy had even baked Plasma cookies (with a cashew, duh) which, I must say, totally kick my normal oatmeal-chocolate-chip recipe for symbolism. (Note to Akademy + GUADEC attendees at GCDS in the Canaries: there seems to be a kitchen I can use, but I will need help to bake eighty dozen cookies; sign up in June). Just having hackers at the stand doesn’t do much for our presence, but Paul had the right idea with hooking up a monitor to his machine as he worked away at his presentation and other fiddly bits – seeing KDE4 in action is much more useful than having a demo machine with a dozen flashy plasmoids competing for attention. The latter opens us up too much to the “KDE4 is all about eye candy” criticism, while seeing activities and other task-oriented features of Plasma in action is far more impressive.

Several users asked me about features in KDE4; unfortunately my use of KDE4 features is pretty minimal so far, since I’m a KMail + Konsole kind of guy. But the nice thing is that then I can answer “I don’t know – let’s find out!” So I learned about some features I didn’t know earlier (persistent search folder in KMail for all messages marked Important, for instance, and show-windows bound to the upper-left corner of the screen) and could show off that KDE4’s interface is discoverable.

At this rate, I’m going to discover KDE some day. Or maybe Jos will drag me to one of his “KDE 4.2 is cool” talks and I’ll finally know what the excitement is about. Now that would be useful.