Polish BSD User Group

Oct. 3, 2018, 8:03 p.m.

In a couple days there will be another meeting of the Polish BSD User Group! It’s already our 6th meeting, which means that the group has been running for almost half a year. The next meeting will be a special one, because we will be guests at Warsaw University of Technology! Considering all of this I decided to summarize our accomplishments.

We decided to start Polish BSD User Group to promote all BSD operating systems in Poland. We don’t know any other group working in Poland. All of that was inspired from one of the Bay Area FreeBSD User Group meeting that I had chance to attend. After a short talk with my colleagues from Fudo Security, we decided to give it a try and organize our first meeting!

Before we started we need to figure out a few things. We started from a few assumptions about for whom and how the group should work. The first assumption was that we don’t want to do conferences, so our meetings should not be focused on presentation but should be about networking and solving user problems. Yes, we assumed that it would be nice if people would come to the meetings with some BSD-related problems and somebody will be able to help them. This is why we decided that presentations should not be longer than 15 minutes, and only should show some interesting part/feature of one of the BSD operating systems.

Another thing which we needed to figure out was for who this group was intended for. One the one hand we would like to bring new users to the BSD community, but we also would like to have some experts. This is why we decided to do two talks during each meeting. The first one for people who didn’t have any experience with BSD; those talks would be focused on what FreeBSD is, how to install it, how the community works and so on. The second talk is for more advanced users. During this talk we discuss some interesting features, but without describing everything from the start. For example, we had a presentation about ZFS checkpoints; in this part we just assumed that there are advanced users who know what ZFS is, and we wanted only to highlight one of the new features of it. The beginning users maybe will not understand everything during this part, but it shouldn’t be a problem because each presentation is only 15 minutes.

I have the pleasure to work in a company which uses FreeBSD on a daily basis, because of that my company agreed to sponsor the meetups. Thanks to that I didn’t need to look for a venue for those meetings (5 of them were held in the Fudo Security office) and had a sponsor for the pizza. I have also a pleasure to work with people who are fascinated with BSDs and they immediately decided to be co-organizers of those meetings.

We decided to record the presentations. The part where attendees introduce themselves and are networking is not recorded, as well as any presentation that the speaker doesn't want or that can’t be recorded. This also wasn’t an easy decision, our goal is to network so we would like people to show up to the meeting. We decided that this should be used as a marketing tool and maybe some people who see video later will be intrigued and join us at the next meeting. First, we streamed directly to Facebook but now we are using Scale Engine infrastructure which provides better quality.

We also triy to minimize the effort of organizing the meetups; it should be fun, not another job. We use eventbrite as a registration form (this is useful to know how many pizzas we need to order) and we use GitHub Pages to host our website. We have a weekly 30 minute call to discuss our ideas for the next meetings. We also use trello to synchronize the tasks.

During this past 6 months we have had 16 presentations. On every meeting we had between 20 and 30 attendees. The most surprising thing is we have attendees travelling from the whole of Poland, sometimes driving over 2-3 hours to get to Warsaw only for our meeting. We discussed topics like:

  • Yubikeys
  • Introduction to FreeBSD
  • FreeBSD at University
  • ZFS boot environments and Checkpoints
  • OpenBSD Daily
  • ARM
  • FreeIPA
  • ZeroTrust
  • QubesOs
  • FIFA World Cup Finals – how to put one on the Internet
  • Admins toolkits

We had one meeting in English, during which George Nevill-Neill was presenting DTrace. You can see all the presentations on BSD-PL meetings and the recording from the meetings at our Youtube channel.

If you are interested in BSD and you are in Poland (or you want to be the person who has travelled the further for a meeting), please join us in our next meeting which will be on October 11 at the University of Technology (see map below). This time we changed the location because the new semester is starting at the university and we would like to introduce the BSD world to the students.

If you would like to help organize the meetings please don’t hesitate to contact us. We also always looking for speakers so if you would like to speak during our meeting also please contact us. You can also join us on our group on Facebook.

I hope that our experience will help other people to organize BSD user groups around the world. I think this is one of the best ways of building local community. If you are thinking about doing this don’t hesitate any longer, grab a few friends and organize it! If you are thinking about going to the meeting, then go, it’s really good fun!

We would also like to thank all our speakers. For co-organizing BSD-PL I would like to thank Jarosław Żurek, Kamil Czekirda, Konrad Witaszczyk, Krzysztof Szczepański, Michał Borysiak, Michał Mróz, Michał Turski, Paweł Jakub Dawidek, Mateusz Piotrowski. Thank you to Fudo Security for sponsoring, Scale Engine for providing us the stream, and BSDNow for supporting us.