My XDC Experience

As the title suggests this post is about my experience at XDC. XDC stands for X.Org Developer’s Conference and is the annual conference of the Linux graphics stack community which includes a lot of projects, some of them being: kernel DRM module, Mesa, Wayland, and X server. During XDC I presented the work that I did as part of GSoC2018. This year XDC was hosted by GPUL (Galician Linux User Group) in A Coruña, Spain, from the 26th through the 28th of September.

It was my first time attending a developer’s conference and I would have to say the people there were really friendly and easy to talk to. Since I have been working with the linux graphics stack for almost 2 years I knew a lot of the people attending the conference but it was my first time meeting them in person. I knew their name from their patches but I was seeing their faces for the first time. Linking faces with their online personalities was a fun experience.

The XDC badge: The badge itself shows the effort put in by the GPUL team.

The conference was located at Universidade da Coruña in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. Traditionally there is a welcome party a day before the start of the conference. Following the tradition, the welcome party was held on 25th evening and it was sponsored by Igalia. I landed in A Coruña at 5pm and went straight to my hotel. The hotel was nice and I relaxed a bit as the conference welcome party was to start at 7pm. I decided to leave for the party at 8:30pm. The sunset in A Coruña happens pretty late as the sun was still up even when I was leaving for the welcome party. This is the point where the only mishap of my trip happened and I boarded the bus for the right route but in the wrong direction. I realized it soon enough and got off at the next stop. I did not have internet with me at that time so I started roaming on the roads looking for the stop on the reverse route. I was able to find a bus stop on the reverse route rather easily and got the right bus going in the right direction.

I reached the welcome party at 9pm. And the party was still going and I was able to get some tasty tapas. While enjoying my tapas I met with Emil Velikov for the first time. Emil is the release manager for the Mesa, I knew him from the time I worked on the Mesa project. I also met with Martin Peres (who was the one pushing me to write all those articles during my GSoC), who gave some advice on how I should use the conference as an opportunity for networking with different people. I enjoyed the evening eating some delicious tapas and chatting with Emil and Mauro Rossi. I left the party early as I had to catch the last bus to my hotel and also prepare for my presentation.

My presentation was on the first day and I am really glad for that. This way I don’t have to worry about my presentation and I can spend the rest of the conference focussing on the other talks and connecting with the people in the conference (not sure if I did a good job here even though my presentation was on the first day :P).

The conference was a little overwhelming for me and during the first coffee break I was standing alone, unable to approach anyone and then Jens Owens walked up to me for a little chat. He works for Google in their Game development business division. We talked about his work and he asked about my project. I eased up a bit after that chat and was able to approach more people after that. I also had my lunch with him. Then I met with Haneen and Rodrigo who were my fellow outreachy and GSoC interns respectively. We were supposed to present our work after lunch. They first presented their work and then it was my turn.

I was finally at the stage and ready to present. But this time I was not shaking as did during one of the other conference presentation and I was less nervous. I also felt that I did a better job, not good overall but at least better than my previous. One of reasons could be that there were not a lot of stakes on this talk as compared to the other one. The talk went on as usual and I did not get as many questions as I had expected. I also ended the talk early as I was speaking too fast. I do that when I am nervous. The rest of the conference went on smoothly after this. The video for the talk is available here. I would love to hear your feedback on my talk!! Feel me comment on this post or shoot me an email.

After that we had a guided tour of the A Coruña Old town. It was good experience as our guide told us about the tit-bits of history around the town of A Coruña. After this was the dinner which was again sponsored by Igalia. The dinner was in buffet style which gave me a good opportunity to do some networking. I met people from various companies including Samsung Electronics Korea. The first day was the most happening one.

The other two days were mostly spent in attending the talks and getting to know more people. After the dinner on the first day I was much more comfortable talking with people and after my talk most of the people were at least aware of the area that I was working on. Talking about my work acted as a nice icebreaker for most of my conversations.

We didn’t have a sponsored dinner on the second day so people split into smaller groups and went for exploring the restaurants of A Coruña. I went with a small group of 8 people and tried pad thai for the first on the suggestion of Jens Owens and I have to say it had a really good taste.

During the conference I hanged a lot with Rodrigo Sequira who was a fellow GSoCee since we had a lot of things in common like this being our time attending XDC. I also hanged a lot with Mauro Rossi who worked on the android-x86. Mauro worked on the project as a hobby and was still one of the major contributors to the project. Three cheers to Mauro for treating me to doughnuts can coffee.

I had a flight on the last day at the 8:45pm so I had to leave the conference a bit early and I didn’t attend the closing ceremony. The organisation of the conference was excellent and the volunteers took care of every little thing. A big shoutout to GPUL and Igalia for organising an outstanding XDC2018.