The event is meant as a "get-together" of students, researchers, social movements for freedom of information, entrepreneurs, Information Technology (IT) enterprises, governments, and other interested people. It is considered one of the world´s largest free software events, harboring technical, political and social debates in an integrated way. It gathers discussions, speeches, personalities and novelties both national and international in the free software world.
On 30 July 1999, a group of public servants, professors, students and members of the academic community, members of user groups and other interested people, joined efforts to start the PSL-RS (Free Software Project of Rio Grande do Sul).
The project's goals were:
After lots of difficulties and delays, the first FISL happened on 4–5 May 2000 in the Noble Hall of UFRGS (Rio Grande do Sul' Federal University). The event was attended by 2,120 people, which also had the first WSL (Free Software Workshop) with 19 works presented during the event.