MiniDebconf in Toulouse

Posted: November 19, 2017
Categories: conference, debian

I attended the MiniDebconf in Toulouse, which was hosted in the larger Capitole du Libre, a free software event with talks, presentation of associations, and a keysigning party. I didn't expect the event to be that big, and I was very impressed by its organization. Cheers to all the volunteers, it has been an amazing week-end!

Here's a sum-up of the talks I attended.

Du logiciel libre à la monnaie libre

Speaker: Éloïs

The first talk I attended was, translated to English, "from free software to free money".

Éloïs compared the 4 freedoms of free software with money, and what properties money needs to exhibit in order to be considered free. He then introduced Ğ1, a project of free (as in free speech!) money, started in the region around Toulouse. Contrary to some distributed ledgers such as Bitcoin, Ğ1 isn't based on an hash-based proof-of-work, but rather around a web of trust of people certifying each other, hence limiting the energy consumption required by the network to function.


Speaker: Jimmy Monin

I then attended a presentation of YunoHost. Being an happy user myself, it was very nice to discover the future expected features, and also meet two of the developers. YunoHost is a Debian-based project, aimed at providing all the tools necessary to self-host applications, including email, website, calendar, development tools, and dozens of other packages.

Premiers pas dans l'univers de Debian

Speaker: Nicolas Dandrimont

For the first talk of the MiniDebConf, Nicolas Dandrimont introduced Debian, its philosophy, and how it works with regards to upstreams and downstreams. He gave many details on the teams, the infrastructure, and the internals of Debian.

Trusting your computer and system

Speaker: Jonas Smedegaard

Jonas introduced some security concepts, and how they are abused and often meaningless (to quote his own words, "secure is bullshit"). He described a few projects which lean towards a more secure and open hardware, for both phones and laptops.

Automatiser la gestion de configuration de Debian avec Ansible

Speaker: Jérémy Lecour

Jérémy, from Evolix, introduced Ansible, and how they use it to manage hundreds of Debian servers. Ansible is a very powerful tool, and a huge ecosystem, in many ways similar to Puppet or Chef, except it is agent-less, using only ssh connections to communicate with remote machines. Very nice to compare their use of Ansible with mine, since that's the software I use at work for deploying experiments.

Making Debian for everybody

Speaker: Samuel Thibault

Samuel gave a talk about accessibility, and the general availability of the tools in today's operating systems, including Debian. The lesson to take home is that we often don't do enough in this domain, particularly when considering some issues people might have that we don't always think about. Accessibility on computers (and elsewhere) should be the default, and never require complex setups.

Retour d'expérience : mise à jour de milliers de terminaux Debian

Speaker: Cyril Brulebois

Cyril described a problem he was hired for, an update of thousands of Debian servers from wheezy to jessie, which he discovered afterwards was worse than initially thought, since the machines were running the out-of-date squeeze. Since they were not always administered with the best sysadmin practices, they were all exhibiting different configurations and different packages lists, which raised many issues and gave him interesting challenges. They were solved using Ansible, which also had the effect of standardizing their system administration practices.

Retour d'expérience : utilisation de Debian chez Evolix

Speaker: Grégory Colpart

Grégory described Evolix, a company which manages servers for their clients, and how they were inspired by Debian, for both their internal tools and their practices. It is very interesting to see that some of the Debian values can be easily exported for a more open and collaborative business.

Lightning talks

To close the conference, two lightning talks were presented, describing the switch from Windows XP to Debian in an ecologic association near Toulouse; and how can be used with bisections to find the source of some regressions.


A big thank you to all the organizers and the associations who contributed to make this event a success. Cheers!