A number of notable software packages were developed for, or are maintained by, the Free Software Foundation as part of the GNU Project.

What it means to be a GNU package

Summarising the situation in 2013, Richard Stallman identified nine aspects which generally apply to being a GNU package,[1] but he noted that exceptions and flexibility are possible when there are good reasons:[2]

  1. The package should say that it is a GNU package.
  2. It should be distributed via ftp.gnu.org, or another site offering access to everyone.
  3. The package's homepage should be on the GNU website.
  4. The developers must pay attention to making their software work well with other GNU packages.
  5. Documentation should be in Texinfo format, or in a format easily convertible to Texinfo.
  6. Should use GNU Guile for its extension language, but exceptions are explicitly possible in this regard.
  7. Should not recommend any non-free program, nor refer the user to any non-free documentation or non-free software.
  8. Use GNU terminology, including referring to GNU/Linux systems and free software in situations where other observers would write Linux and open source.
  9. The maintainer should be contactable, at least infrequently, to discuss problems in the software or fixing compatibility issues.

Base system

There is no official "base system" of the GNU operating system. GNU was designed to be a replacement for Unix operating systems of the 1980s and used the POSIX standards as a guide, but either definition would give a much larger "base system". The following list is instead a small set of GNU packages which seem closer to being "core" packages than being in any of the further down sections. Inclusions (such as plotutils) and exclusions (such as the C standard library) are of course debatable.

Name Description Provides Latest release[Note 1]
Version Date
bash GNU's UNIX compatible shell bash 5.2[3] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-09-26
coreutils base commands 9.1[4] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-04-15
cpio archiving program cpio 2.13[5] Edit this on Wikidata 2019-11-06
diffutils contains utilities to compare files diff, cmp, diff3, sdiff 3.8[6] Edit this on Wikidata 2021-08-01
findutils contains search utilities find, locate, updatedb, xargs[7] 4.9.0[8] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-02-02
finger user information 1.37 1992-10-28
grep search for strings in files grep 3.8[9] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-09-03
groff document processing system (groff) groff 1.22.4[10] Edit this on Wikidata 2018-12-23
GRUB GRand Unified Bootloader grub 2.06[11] Edit this on Wikidata 2021-06-08
gzip compression program (gzip) gzip 1.12[12] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-04-07
hurd[Note 2] microkernel-based set of servers that perform the same function as a UNIX kernel 0.9[13] Edit this on Wikidata 2016-12-18
inetutils useful utils for networking ftp, telnet, rsh, rlogin, tftp 2.3[14] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-07-08
linux-libre kernel that is maintained from modified versions of Linux to remove any software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated, or is released under proprietary licenses 5.19.12-gnu[15] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-09-28
plotutils useful utils for plotting to different devices graph, libplot, libplotter 2.6 Edit this on Wikidata 2009-09-27
readline useful library for reading command lines readline 8.2[16] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-09-26
screen a terminal multiplexer screen 4.9.0[17] Edit this on Wikidata 2022-02-01
sysutils[Note 3] system utilities to manage users, groups, passwords, shells add-shell, chage, chfn, chgroup, chgrpmem, chpasswd, chsh, chuser, cppw, expiry, gpasswd, grpck, gshadow, hwclock, isosize, last, lastlog, login, lsage, lsgroup, lsuser, mkgroup, mkuser, nologin, passwd, pwck, remove-shell, rmgroup, rmuser, setpwnam, vipw, wall, write 0.1.6[18] 2009
tar archiver able to create and handle file archives in various formats tar 1.34[19] Edit this on Wikidata 2021-02-13
texinfo documentation system for producing online and printed manuals 6.8[20] Edit this on Wikidata 2021-07-03
time program to determine the duration of execution of a particular command time 1.9[21] Edit this on Wikidata 2018-03-12


  1. ^ Stable versions. Note that some distros (e.g., Gentoo) use some development versions in case the stable versions are a bit old.
  2. ^ Note that because GNU Hurd is under active development, there is no stable version. The Hurd is distributed through version control systems.
  3. ^ No stable version yet. Current version is alpha and is not suitable for use in production systems.

Software development

The software listed below is generally useful to software developers and other computer programmers.

GNU toolchain

Main article: GNU toolchain

Other libraries and frameworks

The following libraries and software frameworks are often used in combination with the basic toolchain tools above to build software. (For libraries specifically designed to implement GUI desktops, see Graphical desktop.)

Other compilers and interpreters

The following packages provide compilers and interpreters for programming languages beyond those included in the GNU Compiler Collection.

Other developer tools

User applications

The software listed below is generally useful to users not specifically engaged in software development.

Graphical desktop

The following packages provide GUI desktop environments, window managers, and associated graphics libraries.

General system administration


Scientific software


A user page at a GNU MediaGoblin 0.2.0–based website
A user page at a GNU MediaGoblin 0.2.0–based website




Business applications


See also


  1. ^ Stallman, Richard (April 3, 2013). "Re: On the subject of Git, Bazaar, and the future of Emacs development". emacs-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  2. ^ Stallman, Richard (April 3, 2013). "Re: On the subject of Git, Bazaar, and the future of Emacs development". emacs-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  3. ^ Chet Ramey (26 September 2022). "Bash-5.2 Release available". Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  4. ^ "coreutils-9.1 released [stable"]; author name string: Pádraig Brady; publication date: 15 April 2022; retrieved: 16 April 2022.
  5. ^ Sergey Poznyakoff (6 November 2019). "cpio-2.13 released". Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  6. ^ Jim Meyering (1 August 2021). "diffutils-3.8 released". Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Findutils". www.gnu.org. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  8. ^ "GNU findutils 4.9.0 released". 2 February 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  9. ^ Jim Meyering (3 September 2022). "grep-3.8 released". Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  10. ^ "GNU troff version 1.22.4". 23 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  11. ^ "GRUB 2.06 released"; author name string: Daniel Kiper; publication date: 8 June 2021; retrieved: 2 August 2021.
  12. ^ Jim Meyering (7 April 2022). "gzip-1.12 released". Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  13. ^ "GNU Hurd 0.9, GNU Mach 1.8, GNU MIG 1.8 released". Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  14. ^ Simon Josefsson (8 July 2022). "inetutils-2.3 released". Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  15. ^ https://linux-libre.fsfla.org/pub/linux-libre/releases/5.19.12-gnu/.
  16. ^ Chet Ramey (26 September 2022). "Readline-8.2 Release available". Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  17. ^ "GNU Screen v.4.9.0"; author name string: Alex Naumov; publication date: 1 February 2022; retrieved: 1 February 2022.
  18. ^ subversion repository NEWS file of sysutils retrieved 2013-07-23
  19. ^ Sergey Poznyakoff (13 February 2021). "tar-1.34 released". Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  20. ^ Gavin Smith (3 July 2021). "Texinfo 6.8 released". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  21. ^ "GNU Time 1.9 released"; author name string: Assaf Gordon; publication date: 12 March 2018; retrieved: 27 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Release of version 1.5 of complexity". 29 February 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  23. ^ "GNUnited Nations". GNU.org. Free Software Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Midnight Commander".
  25. ^ "GNU LibreJS". The Free Software Foundation. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  26. ^ "GNU Software". GNU.org. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  27. ^ "GNU Taler - Taxable Anonymous Libre Electronic Reserve". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  28. ^ Greve, Georg C. F. (2001). "Brave GNU World - Issue #26". gnu.org. Retrieved 2022-08-14. The ancestry-line of the GNU Pipo BBS reaches over YAWK ("Yet Another Wersion of Citadel") back to Citadel, although it is completely independent code-wise. In fact it was a disagreement with Kenneth Haglund, author of YAWK, because of copyright-problems that triggered the development of the GNU Pipo BBS. The original development-team were Grégory Vandenbrouck and Sébastien Aperghis-Tramoni who worked on the GNU Pipo BBS with help from volunteers like Sébastien Bonnefoy.
  29. ^ Marston, Tim (2013-06-07). "GNU Typist 2.9.3 released" (Mailing list). info-gnu. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  30. ^ "GNU remotecontrol". directory.fsf.org. FSF. 30 September 2013.
  31. ^ "Foliot is now part of GNU and becomes GNU Foliot". Savannah. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  32. ^ "GNU Taler 0.0.0 Released: GNU Tries to Get into Electronic Payments".
  33. ^ "GNU FreeFont". GNU.org.