This specification is obsoleted by AboutThisDevice.


To make Ubuntu more polished and easier to support, it will have an About box that displays the Ubuntu version and basic information about the system.


People are used to "About Name of Program" showing a window that gives the software version details, and copyright info. Since many people do not distinguish between the computer and the operating system, other operating systems also include in their About box basic info about the computer the system is running on. Ubuntu should be just as polished.

Use cases

  • Stephanie installed Ubuntu a couple of months ago, from a CD she picked up at an Internet cafe. Now she has found the Ubuntu Web site, sees that the latest version of Ubuntu is x.y, and wants to know whether she's running the latest version.

  • Jeff, a marketing hack and propagandist, wants to make sure people using Ubuntu can find more information about the system.
  • Claude, a recent Gentoo convert, follows the bleeding edge of Grumpy Groundhog. He wants an easy way of seeing what kernel version he's running.
  • Jacinda, a sysadmin, wants an easy way for his users to check some basic specifics of their system, so he can diagnose problems more quickly.


Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.

  • Choosing the "About Ubuntu" menu item should open the About window, visually centered on the screen. It should behave properly with respect to startup notification and session saving. The window should be closable using either Ctrl+W or the close button.
  • The About window should include:
    • Ubuntu logo and version number (most prominent)
    • computer model, if available
    • CPU speed and amount of RAM on the system
    • a "Hardware Details" button that opens the Device Manager
    • Linux kernel version number
    • Gnome version number.
  • Any of the informative text should be drag-and-droppable as plain text into another program.



AboutUbuntu should be implemented as a small pygtk program.

dmidecode cannot supply the information about the computer, because it requires administrator access. Therefore:

  • The computer model is read from lshal | grep procfs.cpuinfo.model_name, or left blank if that line is not present.

  • The CPU speed is read from cpufreq if it exists, or from /proc/cpuinfo otherwise. (If cpufreq doesn't exist, the CPU probably isn't slowed down, so /proc/cpuinfo will be accurate.)

  • The amount of RAM is read from free or /proc/meminfo.

Current bugs

  • not launch-friendly
  • not session-manager-friendly

Data preservation and migration

  • The current "About Ubuntu" page should be removed from ubuntu-artwork, as it is redundant with the front page of ubuntu.com, which is linked to by the About box. See also BrowserDefaults.


This "About Box" could also include a button "Generate System Report". As newbies often are asked to add system details like their sources.list, lspci, lsmod and the like, they tend to have a hard time gathering these information. Maybe they could select/unselect the appropriate radio buttons for the config file they want to be exported?