GÉANT, NLnet and FileSender support The Commons Conservancy initiative

The Commons Conservancy was launched last October to provide a lightweight organisational structure for
open projects and is already proving its worth. The first project to move through The Commons Conservancy process is FileSender, which has enjoyed valuable support. GÉANT is pleased to be supporting this effort through a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) with The Commons Conservancy and its financial partner NLnet Foundation, and through cooperation between The Commons Conservancy and the GÉANT community working group SIG-Greenhouse.


About the Commons Conservancy

The Commons Conservancy was set up by a group of veterans from the free software / open source, e-science, internet community and the world of digital heritage. In recognition of the strategic constraints the choice of technology puts on future innovation capabilities, the mission of The Commons Conservancy is to strive towards a stable democratic and open global information society in which individuals can collectively scrutinise, reconfigure and improve any technology they depend on. By supporting open source software development projects as they grow and mature, The Commons Conservancy provides a stabilising framework allowing project developers to focus on improving their core offer. Because its sustainability doesn’t depend on the (sometimes volatile) community and lifecycle of any individual project, The Commons Conservancy can provide a long-term horizon for the programmes it supports.


“We want to minimise the bureaucracy and organisational overhead from the point where projects start scaling up from their initial environment”, says Michiel Leenaars, chairman of The Commons Conservancy. “It makes no sense for every project to start and manage its own foundation, and for everyone to make the same investments and beginners’ mistakes over again. This is expensive and consumes time and scarce resources in a critical phase. The Commons Conservancy provides a shared, scalable infrastructure that delivers what most projects need without delay or investment – based on experience and best practices.”



The goals of The Commons Conservancy are naturally aligned with the GÉANT Greenhouse special interest group. The SIG was established to provide a space for open source software developers to share experience and requirements, and for national research and education network organisations (NRENs) to reflect on dependencies for software development within their community and on future NREN developer strategies.


“GÉANT, NLnet and The Commons Conservancy signed an MoU to work together to support open source project development in August 2016,” explains Nicole Harris of GÉANT, who is secretary to SIG-Greenhouse. “The Greenhouse Special Interest Group identified significant NREN dependencies on open source software and ensuring the sustainability of these software projects and services is critically important. The Commons Conservancy offers a simple model to enable both sustainability and support in a way that matches the needs of our developers.”



FileSender is pleased to be the first project to receive Commons Conservancy support. This project is very familiar to the NREN environment and has grown from being a simple collaboration between a few NRENs solving the problem of sharing large files, and is now used by organisations around the world. The Commons Conservancy gives Filesender a home that can support this new status.

“We’ve worked for several years towards a pragmatic and scalable community solution to address the long-term survivability of FileSender and similar
collaborative community software development projects," says Jan Meijer, chair of the FileSender programme board. "We’re very pleased the NLnet Foundation partnered with us to tackle this challenge, and the establishment of The Commons Conservancy was the final step needed. The Commons Conservancy provides functionality that is a crucial building block in the support for open collaborative software  development in European higher education and research in particular, and the European digital society as a whole."


Further information

More information visit the Commons Conservancy website or contact one of the representatives from the NREN community in the Board of The Commons Conservancy for more information: Guido Aben (AARNet) and Rogier Spoor (SURFnet).


More about SIG-Greenhouse and their work identifying NREN dependencies on open source software, and about other GÉANT community working groups.


More about FileSender.