This year again the Foundation was at FOSDEM, and what a huge energy boost it has been for us! Between a Fringe Event for the Matrix community to gather, a booth where the vast majority of people came by to show their support for our work, a devroom with four hours of awesome Matrix content, and last but not least a main track talk where Matthew covered what we had been doing for the past year… It has been a very intense weekend!

Fringe Event

The first stop in our FOSDEM journey was the Fringe Event on Friday afternoon at HSBXL, a hackerspace that was very on-brand: you need to follow the white rabbit to get in. More than a 100 of us gathered in that disused factory to talk about everything Matrix.

Thanks to the sponsorship of Nordeck and Famedly and to the extensive efforts of Adrian and the rest of the HSBXL staff, the Foundation could offer 70 pizzas and crates and crates of drinks to the community. Not only was it great to meet people in the flesh: we could also have a tonne of interesting discussions around the Foundation’s governance, funding, trust & safety tooling, and plenty more that we’re going to factor into our roadmap. And look at this happy community!

A picture of several dozens of people smiling in a room. Some of them are holding a Matrix flag together.

A crowded Booth

After an already successful Friday, it was time to head to FOSDEM itself: for two days the booth was manned by a tireless team, answering questions from a very enthusiastic community. What struck me the most this year was the number of Matrix t-shirts and hoodies people wore at the conference before even stopping by our booth.

Needless to say, Matrix is extremely popular in OSS communities. Most people knew and already loved Matrix when coming to the booth, a few didn’t know Matrix, and even fewer people told us where we need to improve for them to consider using it.

A picture of three persons standing behind a table. One of them has his arm stretched, the two others are looking at the camera smiling. There are folded t-shirts and stickers on the table.

We brought a box of 100 t-shirts and several thousands of stickers with us this year. Some t-shirt sizes were sold out on the first day, and by the end of the weekend we had sold everything. Lesson learnt: bring much more next year!

A main track talk selected for the highlights

Matrix is well on its way to become the one ubiquitous protocol that will finally open up the communication silos. During the past year, a lot has been going on. As a testament to Matrix maturity, the majority of our work was around polishing the rough edges and stabilising the protocol, rather than launching plenty of new features.

In his main track talk, Matthew covered the past year in Matrix, our implication in the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and how Matrix could possibly be part of the solution for WhatsApp to become interoperable and compliant with the regulation.

Both Wired and TechCrunch picked up the news that Element has been experimenting with DMA interoperability with WhatsApp via Matrix.

A packed devroom

This year again we had the opportunity to get a Matrix Devroom: more than 4 hours of Matrix content for a delighted audience. Matrix State of the Union, DMA & Interoperability, MatrixRTC and more: there was a talk for everyone!

A picture of Matthew and Amandine in front of a classroom with a wide audience. Amandine is holding the mic for Matthew. Their slides are projected, and we can ready "5 years from now, everyone will communicate via Matrix"

The devroom happened in a room twice as big as last year’s: it was still packed most of the time. We couldn’t be happier about the enthusiasm for Matrix that we have seen this year again! If you missed a talk you were interested in, you can still catch up with our FOSDEM 2024 YouTube Playlist.

Remote and local online attendance

The online side of the conference went very smoothly. It is a testament to the hard work of the Matrix team who got to adapt it to the FOSDEM Pretalx instance, superseding the (in)famous Pentabarf instance that it relied on so far.

Unsurprisingly, with roughly 7,980 signups online and 4,000 daily active users the online attendance is very far from the levels we have seen at the peak of the pandemic when FOSDEM couldn’t happen in person (plus we collectively forgot to publish the FOSDEM space URL anywhere!). Most people who wanted to attend FOSDEM were there in person, but we were here for people who couldn’t make it for whatever reason.

More surprisingly, I spotted a certain number of people sitting down in the hallways on their phones and laptops, in the middle of one of the largest European open source conferences. They were not catching a break from the conference: they were attending the conference online, even if they were on-site! With more than 10k visitors, some attendees couldn’t make it to the devrooms they wanted to attend… so they attended online. We even caught Amandine tuning into the EU Public Policy devroom from the Matrix devroom!

You’re making this possible

This event was an enormous morale booster for the whole team, but we couldn’t make Matrix in the first place without your support. Whether you are an individual or an organisation who benefits from Matrix, please consider supporting the Foundation financially or becoming a member to steer it in a direction that makes sense for you.

The Foundation needs you

The Foundation is a non-profit and only relies on donations to operate. Its core mission is to maintain the Matrix Specification, but it does much more than that.

It maintains the homeserver and hosts several bridges for free. It fights for our collective rights to digital privacy and dignity.

Support us