According to its website, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), established in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free software, particularly the GNU operating system, used widely in its GNU/Linux variant. The FSF remains the primary sponsor of the GNU project.

The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software: the GNU system. GNU is a recursive acronym for »GNU's Not Unix«; it is pronounced guh-noo, approximately like canoe.

One of the main projects of the GNU system is the GNU Compiler Collection, or GCC, and its sister project, GNU Binutils. These two open source projects provide a foundation for a software development toolchain. Note that these projects were designed to originally run on Unix-like systems.