Last week, Free Software in Balkans 2010, the first major conference on Free Software and Open Source in Albania took place at the University of Vlora. Vlora is a relatively small city in the south of Albania, close to the Greek border, that hopefully will become the center of FOSS spread and adoption in the country.
At a first glance on the program, most of the talks seemed to focus on technical aspects only, but the informal chats and conversations between talks and during social occasions regarded strategic issues, government support and economical advantages on the adoption of free software – and lots of early hacker era stories by Peter Salus and Rob Savoye.
Albania is a very poor country, if compared to Western Europe, but is growing fast. Although, government agencies and international organizations, not to mention the majority of the population, rely on proprietary software, often imposed by nasty contracts or lack of information and technical expertise. It is obvious that the broad adoption of free software would bring employment for the population and local development.
A cultural change is still necessary, but the interest of the small audience keeps our hopes alive. And the general outcome of the conference is that Vlora should hold another conference next year, and Albanian government should support FOSS adoption.
BTW, my talk on LibreDWG, which went even further on free CAD’s and open CAD formats, raised many questions – I want to believe it wasn’t boring. The slides are available here.
For those in the Balkans who missed FREESB, this weekend basically the same crew plus others will speak at SFK10.