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Observability in the Limelight at FOSDEM

If you are visiting FOSDEM for the first time, then the experience can be both bewildering and overwhelming. Set on the sprawling campus of the Universite Libre Brussels, it attracts in excess of 8,000 visitors and includes more than 800 lectures.

If, like us, you were a first time visitor it is easy to feel a sense of dislocation as you criss-cross the terrain from one warren of bunker-like corridors to another. However, the small fleet of rock festival size food trucks selling pizza, Belgian waffles and french fries are a very useful reference point for meeting friends and getting your bearings.

Whilst the ethos of the event is open source (entry is free and you don't even have to register), it obviously needs to cover its costs. Luckily, though, the commercial sponsors who support FOSDEM keep a low profile and the sessions are technical in nature rather than being marketing-driven.

It is a vast conference with a huge number of streams - each of which has its own location (referred to as a devroom). One of the most eagerly awaited sessions in the Observability DevRoom was Nikola Grcevski and Mario Macias of Grafana Labs showcasing their eBPF-powered Beyla product. They didn't disappoint and the audience were rewarded with an amazing demonstration of zero instrumentation tracing. The queues for the DIY Observability talk were long enough for people to be posting photos of them on Twitter. In the space of 20 minutes, Robert Hodges walked through the process of setting up a fully open source telemetry pipeline.

We mentioned Quickwit in our last newsletter. Company Co-founder François Massot also received an enthusiastic reception for his demonstration of the product's ability to ingest telemetry at scale and search at high speed. Those are just some of the highlights of a hugely successful day in the Observability DevRoom. If you were unable to attend we have compiled below a listing of videos and slide decks from each presentation.

Observability DevRoom Presentations and Resources

AutoInstrumentation for Node.js on Kubernetes by Richard Hartmann
Video recording

When Prometheus Met OpenTelemetry by Pavol Loffay
Video and slides

Strategic sampling: Architectural Approaches to Efficient telemetry by Benedikt Bongartz, Julius Hinze

Unifying Observability: The Power of a Common Schema by Christos Markou, Alex Wert
Video and slides

Linux load average and other silly metrics by Franck Pachot
Video and slides

Fast cheap DIY Monitoring by Robert Hughes

Implementing distributed traces with eBPF by Nikola Grcevski, Mario Macias

What’s possible in observability when we have frame pointers by Matthias Loibl, Jon Seager
Video and Slides

Modern application observability with Grafana and Quickwit by Francois Massot

What is CI/CD observability, and how to bring observability to CI/CD pipelines? by Dimitris Sotirakis, Giordano Ricci

Introducing Observability to an airline by James Belchamber

Netdata: Open Source, Distributed Observability Pipeline - Journey and Challenges by Costa Tsaousis

A final thought - we are going to need a bigger DevRoom for 2025!

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