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[edit] DebConf in Thailand

Imagine hacking wirelessly on a beach with white sand and the blue sea close by. Imagine Thai food, but with the knowledge that this country caters perfectly for tourists, so you can have almost anything to eat spicy or not. Imagine being around one of the friendliest people on the planet. And then imagine yourself and 300 other Debian people having a ball.

DebConf in Thailand! It would be the first Asian Debconf. We're a long way from realising this, but with your help we can do!

Please subscribe to the discussion list:

If you have any questions, madduck is the responsible instigator.

Thailand has hosted a Codefest during summer 2006. It might be worth to contact them, asking for help and check who helped organizing this (and sponsored this).

[edit] Checklist

Checklist to be filled by any prospective local teams that would like to host Debconf

(the fontsize indicates the different priorites ~+high+~, medium and ~-low-~.)

[edit] Local team

* ~+Please name the main local team and describe their commitement (i.e. connection, work they have done before, how long...) in organizing events and working in Free Software projects. Are they perhaps even know inside Debian?+~

So far, the team consists of myself. However, I know the director of the Tourist Authority Thailand (TAT), who is excited about the idea to bring DebConf to Thailand and has offered his help.

 AndreasSchuldei: I contacted the Thai translator for debian and asked for
 contacts but never got any answer. Anyone know anything about him or an
 other Debian contact there?

There are also two developers in Thailand, I will contact them shortly.

 madduck: I have since received an email from John Leuner, one of the two developers:

{{{ As far as I know chanop is not living in Thailand at the moment. I'm leaving Thailand soon (probably going to work in India).

Although Thailand would be a great place for a conference, I don't recommend you try arranging it without having at least one person fluent in Thai who is committed to the cause.

I don't have much contact with OSS developers and advocates in Thailand. >From what I've seen there is a very limited community of people interested in GNU/Linux and Debian is not well-known.

Lately I have read in the news about Thailand's increasing popularity for hosting conferences, but these are large-scale conferences with bigger budgets than Debconf. I'm not sure how the good the infrastructure is for a conference of this size. }}}

so there's work to be done. I still love the idea.

 TheppitakKaroonboonyanan (another package maintainer through sponsored uploads): I have spread this proposal to some people in potential hosts/sponsors, such as NECTEC, SIPA, Software Park, Khon Kaen University, and Chiang Mai University. Prince Songkhla University, who is maintaining an official mirror, might also be interested, but I have no contact address yet. For me, I volunteer to help what I could, but I think the mentioned agencies can do the organization.
 madduck: of course the idea is that the "local team" is primarily made up of Debian people, so having agencies do the organisation won't do. But I (for one) would be happy to travel to Thailand well in advance and working with those folks to make it happen.
 [wiki:/irc-2006-06-10 IRC discussion from 10 June 2006]
* Of these people, which have been present at a previous Debconfs and who have participated as organizers and/or volunteers (the line might be quite blurry at times) of a previous Debconf?

madduck was present. I did volunteer here and there but definitely did not "organise". Anyway, I did help organise other conferences, such as before.

[edit] Choice of city / town / whatever

* Are you suggesting a city, a town, a village, a spa in the middle of nowhere? 

This is not entirely decided. Choices are either an island, Chiang Mai, or Khon Kaen. The island would be beautiful, at the risk of too many other tourists. Chiang Mai is an awesome city, but there are also many tourists. Khon Kaen is a university town with a great atmosphere, few tourists, but it's not quite easy to get to.

For travelling by plane, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai have international airports, while Khon Kaen has a domestic airport. When you arrive you will find car hire is available at all airports. Companies such as hertz, enterprise and budget are based in all airports for thailand car hire.

  * How many people live there?
  * How easy/convenient is the proposed place to get all strange and regular kinds of hardware?
    * Electronic/electricity shops
    * Computer stores (A "media markt" like enduser oriented store doesn't count)
    * Supermarkets, etc.

This is no problem in Chiang Mai or Khon Kaen, but may be a problem on an island.

  * How easy is to handicapped people move there?

This is potentially a serious issue.

* ~-Which is the nearest airport?-~

All of the above have airports.

  * ~-Are there any cheap airlines flying near the chosen city?-~

Within Thailand, there are plenty airlines that will take you to and from Bangkok for $20-$30 USD. Getting to Bangkok can be quite cheap if booked well in advance and outside the main tourist season, which is middle of November till February.

  * ~-How long does the trip from the airport to the venue take?-~

20-40 Minutes.

* ~-How friendly is your country towards foreigners?-~

I don't think you can get more friendly than the Thai.

  * ~-Visas: Which/how many countries' citizens require getting a visa? How hard (bureaucratic, probable) is it to get it?-~

Visa exemptions are easy and handed out on arrival for many countries. Those do not cover "work," which under Thai [labor law is pretty much anything from doing a crossword puzzle to walking to the post office. It's probably technically illegal for most foreigners to participate in a thing like this, so it would help to have a strong sponsor in government.

    * ~-Are there any import regulations, which might affect DebConf? (e.g. a limit to number of notebooks / DVDs / other media you can bring in;  hard regulations for money transfers; etc.)-~

None that I know of.

  * Language: Do most people talk English? How hard is it for a foreigner to find their way around?

In places with other tourists or Khon Kaen, this is no problem, but still a little adventurous. Most people do not speak English but many educated people can read it.

[edit] Conference Facilities

I suggest a business hotel or vacational complex. These should be fairly cheap when book in advance for the quantity of people we are, and have most- everything we need.

 * ~+How much does it cost to rent these facilities?+~
 * ~+How far away are the locations from each other? (auditoriums, hacklabs, restaurant, sleeping quarters, info desk)+~ 
 * ~+What kind of places are available suitable for hacklabs, workshops, BoFs and talks?+~  
  * How many people fit in each of them? 
  * ~-How flexible can that be handled?-~ 
    * ~-~-Can smaller auditoriums be merged into a bigger one?-~-~
    * Are tables/chairs fixed, or can we arrange them to fit more people/give more room to the people that we need?
 * Is the venue ready for handicapped people? Note: Keep in mind that it's not only motion-handicapped - Is the area safe for people with any kind of handicap? (There are sight and hearing-impaired people, too.) Bonus: What people is it not good for?
   * Access to all areas with ramps and/or elevators? (Note: carrying somebody over some steps is not usually an acceptable option.)
   * ~-Are there people with experience handling handicapped people, who checked that?-~

* Are blueprints with exact distances available to us (to be kept confidential on request)?

* ~-What kind of audio equipment is already present at the auditoriums?-~
  * ~-Wireless or stationary mics?-~
  * ~-clip-on kind of mics or cary in your hand mics?-~
  * ~-How many of them?-~
* Will the hacklabs be allowed to stay open 24x7? What time schedule do they offer?
* ~-What kind of security will be there?-~

* ~-Are there any limitations regarding the consumptions of food / alcohol? Where do what limitations apply?-~

The age limit for alcohol is being raised to 25 years. In the more popular areas it's illegal for convenience stores to sell alcohol after midnight. In Bangkok at least, it's also illegal for them to sell alcoholic beverages between 2 pm and 5 pm. Any sale of alcohol is illegal on certain holidays, and just before or during elections (local or national). Enforcement varies with police presence and corruption. Places that attract foreigners usually generate enough money that the holidays and the mid-day bans are not a problem, but the (pre-)election bans are strictly enforced. Enforcement of the past-midnight ban seems to depend purely on location.

  * ~-How far is it to the nearest convenience stores / all-night restaurants?-~  

Convenience stores are everywhere, as are very small-scale all-night restaurants. It helps to speak Thai.

[edit] Food

* ~+How much are the meals per person per day?+~

$5 should be enough. $10 plenty.

* Is the eating place near the talks place / the hacklabs?
* ~-What kind of food would be served?-~

Everything. Non-Thai food is more expensive.

  * ~-In what fashion? (service to the table, limited buffet, open buffet, etc.)-~
* Would food for vegetarians / vegan / lactose-alergic / religious (of any denomination) people be available?

Sure. In many places it can be difficult to explain these needs though, especially in English. Also, people may need to check that the wishes are passed on to the kitchen.

  * ~-How much meals do we need to order to get those kind of "special" meals?-~
  * ~-Will it cost extra to get those special meals?-~
* ~-In a two week period, how many more or less equal meals can we expect?-~

[edit] Network connectivity

* ~+Is the area already wired with regular network infrastructure? (much preferrably: 100Mbps or 1Gbps switched)+~
* How much does it cost and how difficult is it to get a big internet connection? (10/20 Mbits at least)

This is apparently fairly expensive. 10 Mbit is a rare luxury, and that's domestic bandwidth. International bandwidth is a bigger problem: it's usually only a fraction of the connection's listed capacity. Reports name pricing as a particular problem for the country's IT development. Only the two state carriers are allowed to run internet exchanges and other large-scale ICT infrastructure. This is an improvement over the pre-2006 situation, which only allowed for a single state monopoly, but the current trend points back in the old direction.

There are also quality problems. It can take weeks to get acute problems resolved. Bandwidth is harder to get on the islands.

* How much work does it imply to cover the area with wireless links?

Wireless networking hardware is easily available, and since 2006, the older variants at least can be used legally outside the home.

* If we use someone else's infrastructure, how easy / flexible can that be handled, regarding routing / firewall / ip-range / public access / other stuff?
  * ~-Do we have restrictions on allowed ports?-~ 

All end-users' http traffic is normally run through transparent proxies and filtered for indecency, criticism of the royal family or government, inconvenient parts of foreign or domestic history, and so on. This sometimes causes outages or performance problems. When censorship proxies go down, port 80 becomes useless. Sites like slashdot may also become unaccessible for long periods when they try to block attackers who are being routed through the same proxy. Sites are sometimes censored by mistake, when filtering patterns are too broad for example. There is no recourse against this and email to the censor is not read as a matter of policy. It's not always possible to tell if a site is blocked or not reachable for technical reasons.

The censoring is illegal and the King has spoken out against it, but as far as we know the post-coup government has only increased it. Hopefully it'll get better when/if martial law is lifted in the entire country. It may be possible to get a connection that is not censored.

Pings and traceroutes are usually blocked somewhere along the route (it's usually 6-10 hops to a "nearby" server, so expect this to happen).

  * ~-Are we traffic-shaped? Or can we set a traffic shaper if we need so?-~
* ~-Would it be possible to set up the network before Debcamp? (a day or two, earlier would be nicer, in order to handle problems gracefully. Additional weeks for wireless.)-~

[edit] Special rooms

Both for ~+server+~ and ~-video-~ rooms:

* General conditions for the rooms
  * Size
  * Have they/do they need air conditioning?

Yes. In the hot season, temperatures in the 80s (30 Celsius) are nice and cool night tempteratures.

  * ~+What electrical load can they handle?+~

[edit] Accomodation

* ~+How much does it cost per person per night?+~

I'd assume around $5

On remote islands or in the cheapest backpacker areas of Bangkok, guesthouse rooms at $5 may be doable. Cheap hotel rooms generally start around $15 a night (but may double in the high season). Foreigners usually pay different rates than nationals, especially in larger hotels where prices are fixed, so get a Thai to book where possible. National parks and museums also have separate pricing for nationals and foreigners, with "western" prices being several times higher, although ethnic Asians may be charged the lower rate.

Visitors should be prepared to show their passports; hotel owners are required to report all foreign guests to the Immigration service or police.

* ~+Is the place where people are going to sleep near the conference facilities?+~

I suggest a vacational complex like Oaxtepec, or a business hotel.

* ~+Is it able to handle a varying number from 20 to 400 of people?+~

It has to. :)

* Is it able to handle non-native speaking people? (i.e. do the people at the sleeping facilities speak English?)
* ~-Will there be a need of a "Debconf" info-desk, or would the local (hotel or such) people be able to handle that themselves?  (See DebConfInfoDesk for details on duties)-~
* ~-Will it be possible for couples to stay in their own rooms?-~
* ~-How many room keys would be available?-~
* Are there other hotels around?
* Are there rooms ready for handicapped people? How many?

Not that I've seen, but in Thailand it's assumed that someone is always willing to help. Tipping people who help out is not necessary, in fact it may be considered offensive.

[edit] Fun and Free time

* What activities can be done during the free time?

Don't get me started. :)

* What would be a possible Day Trip?
  * Is the proposed location ready to receive people with disabilities?
* How expensive would that be?

[edit] Local Sponsors

* ~-Do you have a list of prospective sponsors that might be interested in the conference? Money, hardware, connectivity, etc.-~

[edit] See also

DebConf5WhatToImprove DebConf6Suggestions DebConf6LessonsLearned (via He's only interim minister until the elections in 2007, and a letter to the Thai people correcting him is in preparation. A meeting was organized on 2006-11-21 where the misunderstandings were addressed and the minister adjusted his position accordingly.

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