Hosting A Debian Bug Squashing Party (BSP)
Some things to have in mind when hosting a BSP. Most of them apply to all kinds of hackfest, or even (small) event organization in general.
The three most important things
- People spend their weekend to join this event, and possibly travel huge distances. Make it worth their time.
- Don't freak out on the previous statement. They will help if asked, and they forgive minor glitches. Just start preparing a little bit earlier than the first day.
WiFi must be up and running at the begin of the event.
- Find a partner or at least a wing person. Talking about ideas helps a lot, so does having someone who can do some tasks for you.
Everything you prepare before the event is done. There will be enough left to do during the days.
About a venue
Find a venue at least three months in advance. Things to check when looking for a venue.
- A meeting/conference room for 10-20 people. One big table is convenient.
- Something suitable as an outdoor hacklab. Even if it rains.
- Public transport connectivity
- Car parking
- Kitchen, at least microwave, coffemaker, water boiler
- Nearby stores, pubs, and restaurants
- Policy wrt staying over night. If yes, are there showers?
- Is there IPv6? Users could need it.
- Venues might filter traffic. Check early that at least SSH, IPSec and OpenVPN get trough.
- Especially for Germany: If there are concerns users' activity might lead to legal trouble, set up a Freifunk router that will make all traffic visible at a different place in the net.
Finding a date
BSPs usually run from Friday afternoon or Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon.
Carefully check for dates to avoid:
- Public holidays, people might use them to visit relatives instead.
- School holidays, Debian parents might be traveling.
- Big international events (soccer championship)
- Big local events, they drive hotel prices up (think Munich during Oktoberfest).
Announce the event least two months in advance:
- Set up a wiki page as instructed. Include:
- Location and time
- Reachability (both car and public transport)
- Special regulations of the venue (like no alcoholic drinks)
- Corona policy (still, unfortunately)
- Offer registration in private.
- Look at older announcements to get an idea what should be in it. Keep it otherwise short, refer to the wiki page for details instead.
Send e-mails to debian-devel-announce and other lists (like debian-events-<your-area>) separately.
- People will send you e-mails with questions. Answer promptly.
Some ideas what else to do:
- Short introduction into bug squashing (usertagging at most)
- Key signing
- Cooking (group of volunteers or a passionate chef)
- Visit a pub
- Tour de maison (if hosted by a company)
- City sightseeing
Create a schedule, and be flexible if things go a different way.
Equipping the venue
Equip the venue one week in advance. Things you might need:
- First-aid kit
- Some standard medication (head-ache pills mostly)
- COVID masks and tests (still, unfortunately)
- Kitchen: Dishes, cutlery, coffee maker, water boiler, dishwasher
- Various beverages
- Coffee, tea, milk, cookies
- Power strips, network and video cables, power adapters
Setting up the place
Connectivity build-up. As said above: When the guests arrive, they expect the WiFi to be up and running. You will not have the time to fix things then.
Unless downlink is really thin, providing an apt cache or even a package mirror is not worth the efforts.
- Signs for the door of the venue to guide your guests. Take some time for a good design. People look for the Debian swirl.
- Printed instructions, including
WiFi credentials (also as QR code)
- Nearby stores
- Venue address and contact telephone number
- Some non-standard regulations (alcohol, how to handle doors)
- Check the evacuation plan so you can guide others in case of an emergency.
Take the following points into account. Communicate if there are problems.
- Dietary (at least vegetarians and vegans)
- Wheelchair accessibility (doors, elevators, bathroom)
- Other ways of restricted mobility (people might have difficulties walking more than hundred meters)
- Be confident in what you do.
- Relax and enjoy.
See also this other page with similar content.