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Re: [tdf-discuss] LibreOffice Conference 2013 Proposals

(CC: Immanuel Giulea)

On 12-12-23 07:56 AM, Cor Nouws wrote:
Hi all,

Florian Effenberger wrote (17-12-12 14:03)
.... The Document Foundation hasreceived the following two proposals
for hosting the LibreOffice Conference 2013, ...
* Milan, Italy
* Montreal, Canada
In the meantime, we invite the community to discuss with
the proponents on our discuss mailing list

Thanks to all for the proposals!
It is encouraging to see that we have two great opportunities.
And since the teams suggest different dates, we could choose both!
(of course just kidding - in case you do not yet know me ;-) )

Hello Cor, all,

Thank you for taking some time to ask about the proposal. Apologies for
the delay in my response (on behalf of the Montreal, Canada team), the
holidays and a busy January didn't help in getting a response faster.

As a quick reminder, here is our original proposal:

What I see, is that both proposals write about a link with the 'local'
evolution of open source and the possibility to host the LibreOffice
Conference. Which comes to my mind as a natural strength.

Maybe it's possible for both teams to spend some more words on the
Is there any special local event or*project *or ... what makes it more
attractive for you to organise it especially in 2013? Or might 2012
(too late) or 2014 be just as fine (from that perspective)?

We have quite a few projects going on at the government, in several
areas. I will try to summarize here a number of factors that bring 2013
to an ideal timing for LibreOffice conference to be held in Montreal.

In 2011 new legislation (Bill 133) was announced to provide a better
framework and rules to guide IT spending and project management within
the Quebec government.  It also addressed specifically the obligation to
include free open source software in any studies, evaluations and
options considered for tenders / RFPs. The notion of a "digital
heritage" was recognized, to address the need for continuity and
preservation of source code, among other informational resources.

At the same time several contracts were the law has clearly been ignored
or bypassed. We're not talking pennies here. One example: a project to
migrate to Windows 7 was then evaluated at 1,4 billion (CDN$) dollars.
Canadian and U.S. dollar have been at parity (more or less) for some
time now, if that helps converting. This was for 738 *thousand*
desktops, including approximately 500 000 in educational organizations.

In that same context the government had decided to raise tuition fees in
Universities, and the local FLOSS organizations (including FACIL, which
is proposing to lead the LibreOffice conference in Montreal) joined
forces to bring attention to the numbers: licencing fees could cover the
tuition costs proposed by the government! A few journalists wrote about
this, here is one:

Many people took to the streets to protest against tuition fees and
investigations haven been launched since then to inquire mostly about
the construction industry corrupting local politicians to obtain
contracts - the "Commission Charboneau" is ongoing and everyday we hear
about such bad decisions. Increasingly, the local media is taking
interest in software projects that have over-spent and gave contracts
without RFPs, under apparent conflict of interests, etc. A huge social
movement built up to record levels here, demanding transparency and
accountability, but most importantly showing that citizen participation
is not dead.

That specific Windows 7 contract has since been blocked, we have a new
government now. But many more go ahead, and most include Windows and
Microsoft Office licensing. Every time there is media coverage of such
issues, alternatives are discussed and slowly but surely FACIL and other
local organizations and activists pass the information about the well
established options, but it's chicken and egg: we need to demonstrate
that such options as LibreOffice are well established, have strong
presence and support, and can compete with the status-quo.

Are there opportunities / projects that help embedding the conference
as a part of for example wider support and acceptance for open source?
(Of course just hosting the conference helps in this perspective, but
it may be more effective when it is a planned part of a wider chain,

Many, perhaps too many to enumerate here. Every single project that is
being exposed for skipping local legislation for RFPs (using clause
exceptions like "there is no equivalent product" to give a contract w/o
RFP for example) adds up to a long list of projects that will eventually
have to stop ignoring GNU/Linux and free software, but also specifically
LibreOffice - probably before the OS itself, as LibreOffice for Windows
may become the first step in such changes of mentality.

At that point we need anyone involved to clearly know the available
options, of which LibreOffice is a critical component. As a
cross-platform application, it's a critical entry point for FLOSS
migrations, and as opposed to Internet Explorer, the office suite is not
integrated to the OS (at least not in pricing - we know evaluation
version of MSO come in consumer systems).

It is challenging for our community I think to have the opportunity to
jump over the ocean for the LibreOffice conference venue.
From how history has grown, nearly all previous conferences were held
in Europe (for easiness I also count the conferences that were held
before the making free of the OpenOffice project). It's certainly an
opportunity to build a bridge. But I've no idea *if Montreal makes it
easier and cheaper* for people from e.g. the US to join. Maybe someone
can tell about that?

I am not sure how to answer this. Paris-Montreal direct flights are
common, so my initial suggestion would be to go to Paris if you're
coming from Europe. You will avoid US customs and security which often
delay boarding planes, resulting in missed flights - specially if it's
your first time flying and you're not used to it. If you can avoir a
connection via any US city - DO IT.

Regarding accomodation/hotels, having traveled a few times to Europe, I
can safely confirm it's as cheap as you can find there, and of course as
cheap as you are willing to accomodate. If you want the youth hostel
experience, or the luxury hotels, we have both, all *within walking
distance* or very easy access through public transportation. Other than
the traditional venues, if you take some time and introduce yourself to
the local FLOSS community, I can almost guarantee you will find a place
to stay among someone probably more interesting than the local hotel
folks :) (no offense intended).

Please let me know if this answers this question.

In the Montreal proposal I see that the proposed time is from Friday
evening until say Monday evening (October 11-14), because of the
availability of the location during those days.
We are used to a conference of three full day's tracks, and one (half)
day in advance for more community-related meetings. And then often
some extra time for social/tourist related events.
Would there be an opportunity to host for the community meetings too?
It does not mean that the same location should be available an extra
day I think, but some good place, in the same area for convenience
would of course be nice.
Of course, there are plenty of local hacker spaces, university venues
and local companies willing to lend space for this. Ideally
unconferences or -camp style events coul dbe held at the same venue, but
anyone is welcome to propose smaller events or piggy-back into the

Regarding social/tourist events, keep in mind Ottawa and Quebec city and
only 2-3 hours away by car/train, New York/Boston 6-8 hours drive/bus.
It's common for people coming here to conferences to book return flights
from other cities where they spend a few days off after such events.
This can also be very easily arranged over the Internet or by phone.

We hope to get local presenters, of course, in addition to international
guests - exposing local projects that never make much noise for fear of
backlash is very important. Getting people that have worked on local
project to network with other LibreOffice worldwide community members is
essential to change the current dynamics of fear and status-quo.

Quebec is also an ideal playground for FLOSS projects that have an
essential component: they are multi-language friendly. With such
multi-cultural heritage, I expect attendants to the conference to come
from many backgrounds, and also from other francophone countries so
language community meetings could be held too. I expect lots of interest
in localization as we have a very diverse demographics here:

Thanks in advance for trying to help me making up my mind!
I do not promise - by the way - that no new questions will pop up
after reading the replies ;-)

Keep them coming :) I know the vote has started, but I hope this helps
many to make up their mind for Montreal!


Fabian Rodriguez, TDF member
Vice-Président FACIL / Toll free: 1-855-445-4273
FACIL, pour l'appropriation collective de l'informatique libre
Montréal: +1-514-664-1260 / Québec: +1-418-907-9563

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