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McEs, A Hacker Life
Friday, December 11, 2009
 Lazyweb: Conference organizing/scheduling software

Dear Lazyweb:

What are the best Free Software conference orginizing / scheduling pieces of software?

We are looking for things more sophisticated than Drupal's conference module. Two years ago we used expectnation, a kickass hosted service that Edd Dumbill kindly offered to GUADEC free of charge. But we are looking to host our own within the GUADEC infrastructure now that we finally have started looking into building real infrastructure for running GUADEC website on an ongoing basis as opposed to rebuilding it from scratch every year.

So, please leave comments and share your experience. Thanks in advance.


The perl community have been using Act ( a conference toolkit ) with some sucess, used on various european conference related to programming. See
pentabarf is the way to go.
If you find a good one, can you let the fudcon-planning list know? We've been trying to figure out a better solution for Massive Wiki Table for awhile, and will probably have some bandwidth to work on this at a FUDCon FAD (which we need to plan for late Feb) if you find something you like but which needs finetuning/packaging/etc.
As Michael said, Act is used to host most of the Perl conferences that occured in the recent years: 25 this year, 70 since 2003.

Some aspects of Act are still a bit Perl-centric but there is currently on-going work to make it more generic. However you don't need to know Perl to modify the design of the web site, everything being based on templates (using Template Toolkit 2).

Act is free software so you can either choose to host your own instance, or we can host the conference for you so you don't have to bother with installing and configuring it. Act supports multi-domains so you can integrate it within you current domain. Check the addresses of the hosted conferences:

If you're interested, feel free to send me a mail (sebastien(at)
PyCon India ( was held with a software called fossconf ( It is written using Django, so ideally it should be pretty easy to extend and customize.
I am a conference organizer now for three years and we rolled our own free and open program called utos-ConMan (or just ConMan for short). We also used the registration system used by the folks at SCaLE (called scalereg).

Each year it improves quite a bit and it is probably the best software we've found after tons of research. Although a couple listed above either weren't available when I did the research.

If you are interested in either of these codebases, they are under free licenses. Here's the links:



Clint Savage
Utah Open Source Conference
Aside from Expectnation, there are also OpenConferenceWare, used by the Open Source Bridge, and got a good review here, Pentabarf (a cousin of Pentaho maybe?), also used by YAPCs around the world, and less oriented content submission, and more oriented attendee management, both SCALE Reg and UTOS ConMan are used by free software conferences.

There is more information on software for conference organisation in the notes from the last meeting of the FLOSS Foundations group at OSCON 2009.

You may want to check out Lernid. Jono Bacon is a lead dev (to the best of my knowledge) and while I haven't tried it myself, I've been reading his blog posts on Planet GNOME and Ubuntu. It looks like version 0.3 may be making it even better for the task you're looking for.
I will also put my vote for openconferenceware. I was on the planning committee for Linux Plumbers Conference and we used it for that. It is a bit immature, and it might require some additional hacking to get things working. Brandon Phillips our webmaster I knew had to do some work on it to get things working. It might be a lot more mature now.
Hi Behdad,

You could check out indico provided by CERN.

Indico is widely used by the World Particle Physics community. It has every extensive collection of features and has no problem to scaling to be as large you want. It has been used extensively for conferences of well over 1000 people with multiple parallel sessions.

It is battle tests, free and Just Works :-)


Hi Behdad,

Sorry for the garbled message I left earlier.

You could check out indico provided by CERN.

Indico is widely used by the world Particle Physics community. It has a very extensive collection of features and has no problem scaling to be as large you want. It has been used extensively for conferences of well over 1000 people with multiple parallel sessions spread over many days.

It is battle tested, well maintained, free (GPL) and Just Works :-)

Once implemented on the GNOME server(s) it can be reused for any sort of conference at any time. Ive just finished using the cern-provided indico for a conference of around 60 people here in Australia. The delegation feature that allows attendees to edit their own talks and upload their own slides saves a lot of time.


Great thread. We were actually asking ourselves the same questions for GNOME.Asia and one option is to (test first and) use OCS . Seems there are quite a lot of features under the hood.
At FrOSCon ( we have been using pentabarf from the beginning. It has got its quirks and it his hardly easy to set up and maintain, but we could not live without it.

Pentabarf was originally written to cater the needs of the Chaos Computer Club for their annual Chaos Communication Congress. It has been adopted by many other hacker events and even the Debian guys for their debconf.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about pentabarf.
Thanks everyone. The comments are great.

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