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NLnet Foundation
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal statusStichting
PurposeFree Software Network Research and Development in the Domain of Internet technology
HeadquartersAmsterdam Science Park
Region served

The NLnet Foundation supports organizations and people that contribute to an open information society. It was influential in spreading the Internet throughout Europe in the 1980s. In 1997, the foundation sold off its commercial networking operations to UUNET (now part of Verizon), resulting in an endowment with which it makes grants.


NLnet's history started in April 1982 with the announcement by Teus Hagen as chairman of a major initiative by the European Unix Users Group (EUUG) to develop and provide network services in Europe under the name EUnet. NLnet was the main node of the EUnet[1] operating out of the Netherlands national center for mathematics and computer science CWI, and played a vital role in spreading first UUCP[2] and later the ARPAnet throughout Europe,[3] earning Hagen and other pioneers a place in the Internet Hall of Fame. NLnet also pioneered the world's first dial-in and ISDN infrastructure with full country coverage[4] by using the signal wiring[5][6] from the Netherlands rail system owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen. NLnet was one of the founders of the AMS-ix[7] foundation and the .nl registry SIDN.[8]

Stichting NLnet was formally established as a Stichting (Dutch for foundation) in February 1989. In November 1994 Stichting NLnet created NLnet BV (a Dutch Limited liability corporation or BV) as a commercial operating subsidiary and so incorporated the first Internet service provider in The Netherlands. In 1997 the Internet provision services company was acquired by UUnet,[9] which had just become a subsidiary of MFS.[10] MFS was acquired shortly thereafter by Worldcom,[11] which then initiated a takeover bid on MCI and later became a subsidiary of Verizon.

The acquisition provided Stichting NLnet with an endowment to transform into a grant-making organization, funding the development of Internet network technology and associated Computer Sciences research and development. The foundation is a recognized public benefit organization (in Dutch ANBI) and runs an open call where anyone in the world can submit proposals to improve the Internet,[12] as well as several thematic funds[13] such as the Internet Hardening Fund.[14] Results are made freely available to the community in the broadest sense, typically under FOSS licenses and through Internet standards, web standards and the like.

NLnet is known for sponsoring open source software and standards work as well as auxiliary activities. Some of the projects that NLnet supports or has supported are DNSSEC,[15][16] the ODF plugfest,[17] the GPL V3 license drafting process,[18] Tor anonymity network,[19] the Parrot virtual machine, Namecoin,[20] Jitsi, nftables,[21] and Libre-SOC.[22]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The start of EUnet Piet Beertema and Teus Hagen Archived 2016-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Hauben, R. & Hauben, J., On the Early Days of Usenet, the roots of the online cooperative culture
  3. ^ Retrieved from LivingInternet.com: EUnet -- European Network
  4. ^ Internet Hall of Fame website: INTERNET HALL of FAME GLOBAL CONNECTOR Teus Hagen
  5. ^ Netkwesties: 25 jaar internet in Nederland
  6. ^ http://internethalloffame.org/blog/2016/12/07/breaking-rules-break-ground-global-internets-earliest-days Breaking Rules to Break Ground in Global Internet's Earliest Days
  7. ^ AMS-ix.nl: AMS-ix historical timeline
  8. ^ SIDN.nl Annual report Stichting Internet Domeinnaamregistratie
  10. ^ New York Times: Uunet and MFS Plan to Merge As Internet Meets Fiber Optics
  11. ^ http://www.verizon.com/about/news/mfs-worldcom-merger MFS WorldCom merger
  12. ^ Retrieved from NLnet.nl: What NLnet can do for you
  13. ^ NLnet website: Areas of special interest
  14. ^ Retrieved from NLnet.nl: Internet Hardening Fund
  15. ^ https://nlnet.nl/dnssec/ DNSSEC Fund
  16. ^ Internet Journal DNSSEC Fund Announced
  17. ^ ODF Plugfest website: ODF Plugfest website
  18. ^ Free Software Foundation GPL Version 3 Development and Publicity Project
  19. ^ TOR Project blog: The NLnet Foundation funds two projects
  20. ^ Namecoin blog: Namecoin Receives Funding from NLnet Foundation's Internet Hardening Fund
  21. ^ "netfilter/iptables project homepage - About the netfilter/iptables project". netfilter.org. Retrieved 2024-02-12.
  22. ^ Libre-SOC website:Libre-SOC.org