The GNOME Project was started in 1997 and has grown into a hugely successful enterprise. Used by millions of people across the world, it is the most popular desktop environment for GNU/Linux and UNIX-type operating systems. The desktop has been utilised in successful, large-scale enterprise and public deployments, and the project's developer technologies are utilised in a large number of popular mobile devices.

Since 2000, the GNOME Foundation has acted as the custodian of the project. The Foundation is GNOME's legal body. It supports the project through the collection and distribution of funds, acts as the interface between the project and its partners, and provides strategic guidance. Over 3500 people have contributed changes to the project's code repositories, including the employees of 106 companies.