Freenode #live happened again, and like last year, it was in Bristol over the weekend.

Unlike last year, I'm not doing a talk, but this year I did head out to Bristol on the Thursday to allow some time before the conference begun on Saturday to do some exploring.

On the Thursday

Walking up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge was great. I crossed to the west of the river, walked up to the bridge and then over.

Looking along to the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Interesting boat, called the Matthew of Bristol
Looking back from the bridge to Bristol
Walking through Burwalls Wood

On the way back, I visited the Calbot Tower. The light was fading by this point, which was great to see looking down on Bristol.

On the Friday

I set off to visit two places. First the SS Great Britain, then the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

The SS Great Britain was well worth a visit. I'd somehow managed to miss this when walking along the opposite short of the river only the day before.

I visited the Calbot tower again, this time in the light.

Still the same amazing view, just now I could see a bit more in the daylight.

I was impressed by the amount of stuff in the museum.

It just kept going on and on. The range was impressive as well, like a mini British Museum. It had exhibits on sea life along the coast, ancient Egypt and Assyria, maps of Bristol, dinosaurs, minerals, glassware and a whole range of other art.

On the Saturday

Saturday was the actual first day of the conference. Chris Lamb's talk| was a nice way to start.

The schedule is available online, and talk videos are available on YouTube it's well worth talking a look at what videos are available. I've directly linked to those I comment on below.

Doc Searls and Simon Phipps - In Conversation

I didn't know anything about either speakers prior to the conference, and I still don't know that much, but they both had really interesting things to say and interesting perspectives.

Doc Searls opened with some great comments on privacy, this then led on to discussion of the GDPR.

"The because effect" (10:08) was interesting with respect to the money aspect of free software.

Some very insightful comments were made with respect to cloud computing. Copyleft came up (16:57).

Something which resonated with me quite a bit was the reiteration of the "open source is simply a marketing term for free software" (23:13).

John Sullivan - How can free communication tools win?

Communication tools are a important intersection where both software freedom and interoperability/federation really matter, and this talk was great at presenting the problems faced.

Bradley Kuhn - Interactive chat and the future of software freedom

I think this was my favourite talk of the conference, it's really worth a watch.

On the Sunday

GNU Emacs for all

An excellent talk, reminded me that while I've come a long way with Emacs, there's still a lot more to take advantage of.

Kyle Rankin - The death and resurrection of Linux Journal

A trip back through time, in the context of the Linux Journal.

Neil McGovern - Software desktops to 2025 and beyond!

A look at desktops, with some interesting perspectives from Neil, the current executive director of the GNOME Foundation.

VM Brasseur - Four ways to spread the four freedoms

I really liked the start of this talk, beginning with the 4 freedoms. However, some of the points made later felt particularly polarising.

Particularly at one point with regard to operating systems, the speaker makes the point that free software should be provided and supported on Microsoft Windows, but there isn't any suggestion of how to practically do this.

My guess is that there's a lot of dependency issues with even getting some software to work on Windows, let alone attempting to provide support for something that the contributors might not even have used.


All in all, it was a great conference. I'm very grateful to all the organisers and speakers.

The single track this year meant I actually saw most of the talks. I didn't speak, but I did enjoy the time that gave me to explore Bristol a bit, and actually enjoy the conference a bit more.

I did take a few more photos, which are available in this album.

Hopefully there will be another Freenode #live next year!