I almost missed the 24th Debian Conference because I forgot to register, which would’ve been a real letdown. Why? You’ll understand it at the end of this blog. But luckily, I made it just in time, and everyone was already excited.

And also guess what? They accepted my talk for the conference, so I was even more thrilled for the event! :)


DebCamp, the precursor to DebConf23, began with a bit of volunteer work. My friends and I were tasked with sorting and packing the swag bags for the attendees. Since only a few people had arrived for DebCamp, we managed to complete the task easily.

Soon, another volunteer opportunity came our way as we were asked to assist at the registration front desk, joining the local team. After fulfilling our volunteer duties, we had some quality time to spend with each other.

The second day, in contrast, seemed unproductive at first glance. However, it provided me with a clear understanding of what DebCamp was all about. It’s a week where Debian contributors focus on their Debian-related projects, tasks, or problems without interruptions. DebCamps are largely self-organized, and they cater to people eager to get work done.

Fueled by our newfound understanding, my friends and I decided to delve into Debian packaging. This became our mission for the rest of the camp, and we continue to learn about it to this day.

One of the highlights of DebCamp was the chance to meet some remarkable individuals. Some have witnessed the evolution of modern computing. Our conversations revolved around their Debian journeys, their cultures (most of them were from outside India), and their experiences from past DebConfs. Each story was captivating in its own way.

These conversations brought us closer to the Debian community and inspired us to contribute more actively. We also had the privilege of meeting the local core coordinators, who shared their experiences and the tremendous effort required to organize such an event.

At the start, the front desk duties were relatively light, but as DebCamp progressed, we found ourselves manning the front desk more often. The last day of DebCamp and the initial days of DebConf were exceptionally busy, and we had to sort and pack the swags as they were running out quickly. With each passing day, we gained a rhythm in our work. Being stationed at the front desk offered us a unique opportunity to interact with the majority of the attendees. I must say, every single one of them was so generous and kind.

One particularly heartwarming moment came when an attendee offered a token of appreciation for our efforts at the front desk. It felt incredibly rewarding to know that our hard work was making a positive impact.

People visited the front desk not just for registration but also for inquiries and assistance. It became a hub of information and support, and we had the privilege of helping many attendees with their questions and requests. In short, most of our volunteering experience revolved around the front desk, and it turned out to be an incredible and enriching experience.



DebConf was akin to a vibrant hub of information and learning (later extending to a fourth). Keeping up with all the events was a delightful challenge in and of itself. Here are a few sessions that I had the pleasure of attending:

  • Community Building in Free Software and Focusing on DEI, In this session, Kristi Progri explored the power of communities in open-source projects. Attendees learned about effective tools and strategies to engage stakeholders for ongoing project development. Additionally, the talk discussed methods for recruiting diverse talent and increasing project visibility in underrepresented demographics.

  • Debian: Resistance is Futile by Joenio Marques da Costa in the Debian in Arts & Science track featured a captivating live coding performance. Sounds were generated in real-time by live programming using the dublang tool, creating an incredibly awesome experience.

  • GNOME Community and Ways to Engage by Kristi Progri in the Introduction to Free Software and Debian track offered valuable insights into contributing to open-source projects. Kristi, the program manager of the GNOME community, shared her experiences and highlighted key points, including the main focus of GNOME’s contribution areas, the inner workings of the GNOME community, and various areas where individuals can contribute. Contributing to open source is not just about gaining knowledge; it’s also about making friends from around the world and sharing your learnings with others.

  • Salsa CI BoF by Santiago Ruano Rincón in the Packaging, Policy, and Debian Infrastructure track brought together Debian enthusiasts interested in Continuous Integration (CI). The session delved into the current status and new features of Salsa CI, an automated framework for building and running common tests for Debian packages before uploading to the archive. It also provided a platform for discussing potential improvements and enhancements.

  • Home automation using free software by Abhas Abhinav demonstrated how to control various home devices exclusively with free software. The workshop featured hands-on demonstrations, including setting up a home server using Yunohost and Home Assistant on Debian, configuring a wireless router with OpenWRT, flashing tube lights with free software firmware (Tasmota), controlling electrical switches with Tasmota and Espurna firmware, monitoring power consumption, creating colorful lights with WLED, and integrating self-hosted voice assistants like Mycroft with Home Assistant. The workshop aimed to inspire participants to create similar setups and contribute to improving Debian’s compatibility with these tools.


And that sums up it all. Along with the Debconf, the sponsors hosted a job fair in a designated area during the conference, connecting attendees with professional opportunities.

The Cheese and Wine Party:

An event we missed out on for the most part, as we were busy assisting attendees in acquiring local SIM cards.

So, what exactly is a cheese and wine party? The concept is refreshingly simple: participants bring delectable treats from their respective countries, preferably edible, but grapes and lactose are entirely optional. While cheese is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser, it’s the delightful surprises from around the world that truly steal the show. Even if you didn’t bring anything to share, everyone is welcome to join in.



Exploring Alappuzha:

It was an exciting day, as we had the opportunity to choose from five different day trips. We could choose from five different day trips. I decided to go to Alappuzha, where I had the chance to ride on a houseboat. It was a new adventure for me, even though I’m from Kerala.

We set sail on the Punnamada Kayal in a traditional Kerala houseboat, drifting through the serene backwaters, surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil waters. I had a lot of fun playing games onboard, swapping stories with folks from different places, listening to experiences from their previous conferences, and enjoying the most delicious food.

fun boat

Remembering Abraham Raji:

As we returned from our day trip, we were met with heartbreaking news. The tragic passing of Abraham Raji was due to an accident during one of the other trips. Abraham was not just a core coordinator of DebConf23; he was the designer of the DebConf23 logo. In addition to his creative talents, he was a Debian developer with remarkable skills at such a young age. The entire DebConf community was enveloped in grief. In a solemn gesture of respect and remembrance, all scheduled sessions and even the conference dinner for the following day were cancelled. Moved by our shared sorrow, I, along with fellow attendees, visited Abraham Raji’s family to offer our condolences and stand in solidarity during this difficult time.

The rest of DebConf was marked by a somber tone as many speakers, including myself, cancelled the talks as a mark of respect for Abraham Raji.

On the final day of DebConf, Tzafrir Cohen shared some preliminary details about the upcoming DebConf24 in Haifa, Israel. This was followed by the bidding process for DebConf25. The day concluded with the closing ceremony, marking the end of the event. We then enjoyed our last dinner at DebConf, savoring a vast variety of cuisines to bid farewell to this remarkable gathering.

In closing, I’d like to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who made DebConf23 an unforgettable experience. To the organizing team, your dedication and hard work made this event possible, and we are immensely grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. And to my friends who shared in this incredible journey: Thank you all for making this event truly remarkable.

The Post-Credits: Farewell to DebConf23

As the final day of DebConf23 dawned, I savored my last breakfast with no compromises. It was a fitting conclusion to a memorable journey. Afterwards, it was time to bid farewell to all the new friends I had gathered during DebConf, an emotional yet heartwarming experience. With the conference coming to a close, our next stop was the courier service, where we sent the leftover swags to friends who had played a crucial role in making the MiniDebConf at our college a reality. It was a small token of appreciation for their support. Finally, with a heavy heart filled with cherished memories, I departed for my hometown, knowing that DebConf23 had left an indelible mark on my journey in the world of open-source and community. Until next time!