In the heart of the French Ubuntu Party

This is the transcript of kinouchou, a recent member of ubuntu party core team organizer, experiencing her first ubuntu party on the organizer side last May, for Jaunty Jackalope.

(Credit to tshirtman for the translation)

I started using Ubuntu 3 years ago, without ever being active in the community. After I went to the Ubuntu Party of November in Paris, I decided to take my share of community work. Even if I was well aware a Ubuntu Party (UP) was not improvised, I had not the slightest idea of all the connections under the hoods about the whole management. Here is a part of what's the Ubuntu party 9.04 of Paris looks like behind the curtain.

For me, It all started near of end of February, start of March, at the time of the launch of the new community site, Foundations where here, but a lot of things needed their share of care, and all the articles to write! Deadline? now!... Well I'm a bit exaggerating, we had a week, more than enough!

In the meantime, was the first IRL (in "real" life, whatever that mean) meeting for the preparation of the UP. This day, date and place for the event where chosen and booked; we just had to think about what to do, when to do it, and how to manage our place, simple details! :) It's not easy to create a planning, even being in agreement about what we are going to do, and it was not even the case for everything! So we had to juggle with schedules and rooms, which are not extensible. So we thank about lightning talks which were new. And for the communication plan, a flyer was anticipated, but we had to find the design, a printer (not the device) not too expensive, and a distribution plan. The good news was, March is a month full of events : Solution Linux, Intercite, Libre en Fête... As many occasions to make our advertisement. Obviously, as Ubuntu-fr (ubuntu-party is the events division of Ubuntu-fr) was present, we needed to make them up and find people to manage the stands.

April is already coming, 9.04 is nearer and nearer, and the second meeting happens. This time we start by going back on the March event, but the main subject is obviously the UP. Report on the website status, still a lot of articles to write. CDs! Yes do you remember why we are doing an UP? Because there is a new version of Ubuntu coming out. A French localised iso file and sleeve, and to put under press in time. Schedule is tweaked, slight changes are made and volonteers are recruited. Assessments are made about direction marks. This time UP is in the same as the "nuit des musée" (night of museums: all museums are open and free for some hours of the night), so the cité des sciences (which host the UP) proposed us to handle a nightly session. "Are we doing it? What are we going to do?", assessments on the associations that will be present. On the cost side, we have to count goodies (yes! it indeed cost money), communication and preparation costs of events (even if we try to get most of it for free), and small things as Ubuntu-fr servers and all what makes Ubuntu-fr alive. Choice of goodies is very important. This year, we have ubuntu-fr badges and updated mugs (with a very nice koala).

The more the deadly deadline approach the more we see the whole lot of things waiting to be done. Did all the lecturers confirm their presence? Woo! New planning change! New work-group ideas... well, we will save this for next time, no time left!

Jaunty comes out at least, and pressure rise up again. Finish the iso image and the sleeve, finish the paper schedule, open lecture inscriptions. There is a weird feeling of both wanting to be the 16th for being at the event, and wanting to be the 18th for all being ended, and be able to rest, at least. This sums up with the feeling that time pass to quickly and nothing will be ready in time.

End of May, last meeting, we only speak about the pratical organisation of the two days, mainly useful to new volonteers, for they need to know what to say and what to do. I only spoke about IRL meetings, IRC meetings being impossible to count.

The real day is here, everything is ready, or so. The general impression is not of very big crowd, but the public is really here. Some times are cooler than over, but no time to get bored. The two days passes at incredible speed, and all already finished. Times of the first reports, some thought we would have few people (we even polled on the probable outcome), but no! Despite the fact May is the month of exams and long week ends, this new UP gathered about 4000 persons like the November one!

Why this article only now? Well two weeks ago was the debriefing, a good way to know what went wrong and make it better next time. If we had 4000 people in May, although the period not being very favorable, November's one is likely to be out of magnitude, so we will need again many new people for preparations, design, disc image, website(s) and obviously the very day of the UP :).

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