DebConf Organizers blog
Note: This entry was written at least 24 hours ago. After a very long day filled with frustration and hope, the situation right now is quite different - But I still want to share what I already wrote ;-)
I have worked towards having a Debconf in Mexico for a long time - I started playing with the idea maybe three years ago, after being at Oslo, and started pushing for it one year later, in Brazil. Last year, before leaving to Finland, it was a fact: I convinced everybody that our country could be a great place to host Debconf. The last month or so, basically my whole time has been devoted to making this conference something worth remembering. And this has been an exciting year of work.
But a couple of weeks ago, I realized it was probably not such a good idea, probably this is not the best way in which I can contribute to Debian being better, or get more Mexicans involved in Free Software. And I fear that, if something does not change soon, we will break the impressing steady growing and professionalization of our conference.
What was the problem? Lack of people. Lack of committment. Lack of time. Things that -by whatever means it has been possible- we have been solving. But right now, the main problem is the network. I trusted to have enough network quality in a semi-rural setting, we didn’t actually have the time to properly test our plans were well laid out, we didn’t test if the line of sight we supposed we would have would work, I didn’t press for the hardware to be ready on time, we had communication errors that led different teams into believing the other would provide specific equipment we needed… This is not so bad, as it is solved only with enough devoted time at the beginning of the conference itself - But once the pieces were already in place, the situation didn’t improve - Maybe because the hardware was less than what we expected, or because we rely on having access to the roof of the neighbour of the neighbour of a friend… Who knows. The fact is, we do not have network access - And when we have it, it is darn slow and with a tremendous amount of packet loss. And it seems that the only thing you really need for a good Debconf is a bunch of friendly geeks, which we have, and good network access - which we don’t.
I wanted also to misspell the bad impression many people have of Mexicans, about us being informal, never really committed, and always having an excuse. But… Well, I also failed miserably on that. I really didn’t want this to be the “mañana” Debconf. That is a sad prejidice I don’t want my country to have - As many of you surely know by now, I love this country and talk about its beauty and good things every time I can. Of course, not all problems are to be blamed on Mexicans, it would be foolish for me to believe so, but we do have our fair share of guilt.
Still… Hope is not yet lost. Debconf hasn’t formally started - We are at Debcamp still. Up to today, we are a group of forty-something geeky friends having a good time, talking, having sun and pool time, and laughing and complaining about the network and about the heat. The Debian community will not forget Mexico. And progress is being made every day. There are some really really cool things about this, and I’ll try to cool down and enjoy what we have. The strongest stress seems to be over (at least for now, wait until most people arrive on Friday/Saturday/Sunday). And it is good that I can identify a forming depression - maybe this can help disspell it before it is too late - We only have Debconf once a year, and I do not want to be sad during it.