Ubuntu Summit 2023 Reflections

Ubuntu Summit 2023 Reflections

We have just returned from the stunning city of Riga, where Canonical hosted the Ubuntu Summit 2023, and we are still buzzing with the energy from meeting so many of you. 

Preparing this event was a team effort. A small team of us have been meeting for months, brainstorming ideas, preparing huge to-do lists, and dividing responsibilities.  It was difficult, but also hugely rewarding, and an opportunity many of us felt was a privilege. As organizers, we embarked on our own journey, and formed great bonds with each other—and with you—by being tied by this event.

One of our main targets for this year was to be more open and communicative, and we succeeded.  We explained our goals and vision for the Ubuntu Summit with our Ubuntu Summit 2023 announcement, shared stories on how we designed our logo, and encouraged speakers to submit exciting talks and workshops. We also gave our thoughts on why you should attend the Ubuntu Summit 2023 and sent a last reminder: The winter is coming, and so is the Ubuntu Summit!

Our various dispatches generated a lot of interest, and we had great expectations for the Summit. Skip forward to the 3rd November, and it was a joyful moment when we opened the event and saw the results, with so many of you in the plenary room! It was a humbling experience to see so many open source enthusiasts join us from all over the world.

Our Latvian friends also responded to the call and joined us in great numbers. We owe a debt of gratitude to Leo Trukšāns, Pēteris Jurčenko, and Jānis Ķengurs who all did an exemplary job coordinating the Latvian Ubuntu, Linux and Open Source communities.

DAY 1

The event kicked off on November 3, 2023, at 2 p.m. with a great plenary session by Philipp Kewisch, Mark Shuttleworth, and Nathan Haines. 

Directly after the opening plenary, Randy Packer mesmerized us with a beautiful story about DreamWorks renderer, Moonray, and its path to open source. Randy reinforced that open-sourcing Moonray was actually born out of the desire for the engineering teams at DreamWorks to share the amazing work they did. 

By the end of day 1, we had learned about Ubuntu Core Desktop, Ardour, Alioli submarine drones, Ubuntu on ARM laptops, Debian packaging and SRUs, and much more. 

As soon as our last session ended, our welcome party started in the Hallway Track room, which was our main hallway that connected all rooms. Attendees spent a couple of hours talking about their projects, showcasing their gadgets and making friends. Enthusiasm was through the roof, and the air became electrified with the energy of so many talented individuals.

Energized by so many great sessions, I spent most of the evening running around, introducing like-minded people, helping attendees make connections, and literally dragging content creators, begging them to interview representatives from cool projects. Then, in what felt like a moment, two hours were gone and the party was over.

~ Mauro Gaspari – Community Team

Secret swimming pool preparations

Most attendees escaped to their rooms for some well-deserved rest, but a few of us stayed behind to work on a secret project for the following evening.

It started (as all summit plans do) with a message from Mauro saying there was a crazy idea. By the time I read that message, there were several messages from Gabriel and Mauro, with a to-do list: find a pool, build a treasure hunt, have fun with open source submarine drones at the Summit. Oh, and can we have an inflatable jellyfish? I only left them unsupervised for 5 minutes…

~ Jessamyn Madden-Aberdein – EA Team

DAY 2

On Day 2, Thibaut Rouffineau announced the first plenary talk: Daniel Schaefer from Framework Computer started the day with a highly anticipated session. Daniel even took his presentation laptop apart on stage, during the talk. That was something else! After the talk, Daniel spent most of his time talking to all of us about their great effort to bring long-lasting, sustainable products to the tech market.

During the morning break, Thibaut and the organizers summoned all attendees to the plenary room, where our photographers had placed a scissor lift to get a vantage point and take an awesome shot.

Ahmed El Sanhoury directed us to make funny poses to evoke the spirits of the Mantic Minotaur and Jammy Jellyfish.

You can’t use your indoor voice to guide 300 people through an odyssey; our poses summoned Mantic Minotaur and Jammy Jellyfish. I may be the voice of social media, but here I used my voice to remind people that gravity is also a collaborator. That wooden stage would not have been too happy if we had our way.

~Ahmed El Sanhoury – Communications Team

This was far from just a group photo; it was a great fun activity, and the room was full of laughs, smiles, and attendees taking pictures of the photographers!

Day 2 was a blast! The Linux gaming dream team was at the Ubuntu Summit, after all! Glorious EggRoll of Proton-GE fame, Arkadiusz Hiler from Codeweavers, Mathieu Comandon of the Lutris project, Dennis Sädtler from Legendary and OBS, and Paweł Lidwin from Heroic Games Launcher were all at the Ubuntu Summit this year. They showed us a lot of innovation, passion, and incredible feats of engineering to make the Linux gaming experience the best it can be.

Gaming was only one of our tracks, and we had a diverse array of other amazing workshops and talks. Frank from Nextcloud spoke about the AI revolution and what it means for open source (and how offline, open source AI can be installed alongside Nextcloud); Randy from DreamWorks took the stage again to show us what Arras can do; and current and future Ubuntu Local Community leaders met to kick off a new era of LoCo activities. 

Erich from Ubuntu Studio showed us how to do live audio mixing, Gabe from OwnCast showcased the unbelievable project he is leading, and Mark Esler spoke about security in open source.

But that’s not all: we learned a lot about marketing in open source thanks to Michael Tunnell’s talk and Ryan Gorley’s workshop. The artists among us also rejoiced when Pablo Ruiz-Múzquiz took the stage for a plenary talk about PenPot. Eylul Dogurel also spoke about AI in the arts and the problem of ownership.

Before calling it a day, Thibaut had one last surprise for us. A round of energizing and interesting lightning talks in the main plenary room. What a great way to end the day!

Game Night & Robotics Water Sports

After a couple of hours of breaks from the event, we opened up our workshop rooms, and got those ready for Game Night. Again, our gaming dream team showed up. Mathieu from Lutris hooked his Steam Deck to a projector, unfolded a mat-pad, set it up on the ground, stepped on it, and started jumping around like a maniac. That was the game controller we used to play video games.

On the other side of the room, Ken VanDine was trying to install Ubuntu Core Desktop on a Raspberry Pi 5. And speaking of Ubuntu Core Desktop, Alan Pope surprised us with an Ubuntu Core SnapDeck

Other groups formed and started playing card games, video games, or just sharing their experiences from the day, as they waited for the Robotics Water Sport session to start.

Suddenly, a strange figure emerged from the shadows. Jason Nucciarone in his standard minotaur shape, holding a microphone, started casting volunteers into the labyrinth that led to the swimming pool area. Robotic Water sports was live!

Our attendees were able to experience first-hand piloting of the Alioli drones, created by Juanmi Taboada. Each attendee was set on a treasure hunt in the depths of the mysterious swimming pool, tasked to find the prized rings of power. Michael Tunnell from Tux Digital hosted the session and gave directions to the attendees. 

We had the confirmation of a successful mission when we saw the joy in the attendees’ faces when they left the swimming pool, commenting about the fun experience.

DAY 3

Hans Gerwitz opened the last day of the Ubuntu Summit 2023. After a delightful introduction and announcements, he introduced our first session of the day: A panel with experts from various backgrounds, discussing AI and answering interesting questions. 

Graham Morrison, moderator for this panel, kicked off with a question he asked ChatGPT to prepare. That was hilarious and eye-opening. The question AI prepared to ask humans what they thought about AI, was so accurate and on point, that we felt we really needed this upcoming discussion.

“Hosting the AI panel was a lot of fun. Our experts spanned the full spectrum of opinion, from the overly cautious to the overly optimistic, which I think resulted in some very interesting conversations. There was some good-natured friction, too. But my main take-away was that even experts can’t agree what the future of AI looks like!”

~Graham Morrison – Snapd team

After this electrifying start to the day, Ubuntu Summit kicked in, full force, with all rooms open with presentations from all tracks, from community-oriented sessions, to infrastructure, design, coding, security, and much more.

Hector Martin and Tobias Heider spoke about the incredible leaps forward that Asahi Linux and Ubuntu Asahi are taking to make Linux a first class citizen on Apple silicon. Luca Weiss showed us that Fairphone is working hard to provide us with long-lasting, repairable, and sustainable phones. Joseph De Veaugh-Geiss showed that sustainability can be achieved through software as well, with the KDE Eco project.

Our kids are our future. The Hack Club designed an educational program to encourage young people and students to learn open source. Their model is simple, yet game changing: You learn how to code and share a small open source game, and in return, they ship you the game controller that you can use to play your new title. The very same controller you cannot buy with money, you can only buy with your open source contribution. 

Another round of Lightning talks took us towards the closing of the Ubuntu Summit 2023. After the lightning talks, Philipp Kewisch delighted us with a closing plenary, celebrating our speakers, attendees, and organizers. A video reel created from the Ubuntu Summit 2023 actually closed the event and sent us towards the closing party, before sending us to the closing party at the Digital Art House, just one block away from the event venue.

This year’s Ubuntu Summit was so fulfilling. It was great to see so many people passionate about open source getting together around Ubuntu. Even just a week after I’ve heard about so many amazing ideas that have come up in conversation and people working together on something new. I’m already excited for the next Ubuntu Summit, where I can tell the world about the latest chapter of these new Ubuntu Stories.

~ Philipp Kewisch – Community Team

Hallway Track

Ask anyone from the community about what makes open source conferences special and you’re likely to hear the term “hallway track” mentioned quite a few times. It’s these unscripted, impromptu conversations in the conference hallways, often involving coffee and beer, that can lead to new project ideas and sometimes lifelong friendships. 

The Ubuntu Summit had quality hallway track time in abundance this year. Traveling between talks and workshops you would overhear a conversation between two Ubuntu community members who have known each other for many years finally getting to meet in person for the very first time. In a far off corner, huddled around a sticker emblazoned laptop you would spot two software developers eagerly pushing a merge request to fix a long standing issue. Everywhere you traversed throughout the venue, you were encompassed by the laughter and smiles of people who were finding camaraderie in the presence of their peers.

~ Aaron Prisk – Community Team 

CLOSING PARTY!

Just one hour from the end of the event, we all met again at the Digital Art House for the Ubuntu Summit closing party.

As we entered the venue, we immediately felt a rush of joy. The venue was an incredible maze of surprises. Just next to the entrance and glass window, robotic hands were taking portraits of attendees.

Entering the main hall, we were amazed. A DJ was playing rather chill music that created a good atmosphere. A huge wall of screens was displaying a carousel of Ubuntu official wallpapers, images from the Ubuntu Mantic Minotaur wallpaper competition winners, and the beautiful interpretations of Ubuntu mascots made by the legendary Sylvia Ritter. Even if Sylvia could not join us in Riga, we felt better just having her artwork keep us company for the whole evening.

Moving to the upper floor, we were greeted by a photo booth where people were lining up to take pictures with friends, new and old. The photo booth was a reason to join the closing party itself.

A very interesting and quiet room was next to the photo booth. In this room, attendees could sit down and chat for a while in a quiet environment, while watching a mosaic made of pictures taken at the event slowly form and fill a huge screen.

Finally, a very disco dingo like room was playing dance music that got many attendees moving. Actually, the music was so good that it even made a Minotaur and a penguin dance.

I couldn’t see or hear much at all while wearing the Minotaur mask, and it was quite hot and sweaty inside the mask, but it was definitely the best 20 USD that I ever spent. After planning the 2023 Ubuntu Summit for several months – and coordinating the Ubuntu HPC’s first ever in person community meet up – it was great to bum-rush my way into labyrinth and showcase my clubbing skills. Some say I might have regretted the hours of dancing and free libations when I had to wake up for work at 6 AM the next morning, but it was totally worth it…

~ Jason C. Nucciarone – Not so Ancient Elder of Ubuntu HPC

Ubuntu Summit 2023 YouTube Playlist

Session videos from all rooms are being uploaded to the Ubuntu On Air YouTube channel, and you can keep track of those on this playlist: Ubuntu Summit 2023 Playlist on Ubuntu On Air YouTube

Camera Crew 

We would like to spotlight our camera crew, Kaspars Dobrovolskis and Janis Konons. Thanks to their tireless efforts and sharp eyes, we can share beautiful moments they captured throughout the event. You can see some of the breathtaking shots in our Official Gallery.

Special thanks to Kristaps Purmalis from NoLimits Production. We were all impressed with the quality of his work, and we’d love to show the Ubuntu Summit 2023 video reel he captured and edited while at the event. 

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to share the Ubuntu Summit memories. Check out our Community Gallery populated with photos from the many Summit attendees.

What’s next?

If you came to the Summit this year, we sincerely hope to see you again next year. If you could not join us in Riga, we hope to have convinced you to come next year. And if you still aren’t able to make it, we’d love it if you joined us remotely. Make sure you follow the Ubuntu Blog for future updates on all things Ubuntu Summit.

Finally, remember that the Ubuntu community is fun and welcoming all year long. If you have questions, if you want to learn, or if you aim to contribute to one of the many Ubuntu projects, please get in touch with us. We would be thrilled to have a chat with you and guide you to this beautiful and inspiring community. A great place to start is the Ubuntu community page.

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