All of the various open source projects that comprise the entire toolchain are normally distributed as source code. It is left up to the user to build the tool application from its source code. This can be a very daunting task to any potential user of these tools.

Luckily there are people who help out in this area. Volunteers take the time to build the application from source code on particular host platforms and sometimes packaging the tools for convenient installation by the end user. These packages contain the binary executables of the tools, pre-made and ready to use. These packages are known as "distributions" of the AVR toolchain, or by a more shortened name, "distros".

AVR toolchain distros are available on FreeBSD, Windows, Mac OS X, and certain flavors of Linux.