This specification is obsoleted by AboutThisComputer.


About This Computer should show useful information about your computer, its hardware, installed operating system and desktop environment(s).

Release Note

New with this version of Ubuntu, the "About Ubuntu" and "About Gnome" dialogs have been replaced with a more generic "About This Computer" dialog that shows basic information about your machine along with software versions for Gnome or KDE.


The current "About Ubuntu" and "About GNOME" items are not helpful, elegant, or (least importantly) consistent with what people expect from other operating systems. And merely having two menu items gives the impression that Ubuntu is fragmented and disorganized.

Use Cases

  • Third-party software often has minimum system requirements, most often involving the operating system version, processor speed, and amount of memory available. Often they also mention a particular amount of disk space, but this is much less important (because people almost always have enough). Occasionally they have other requirements (such as a particular graphics card).
  • Tech support for Ubuntu often requires knowing what version of Ubuntu someone is using. People often have trouble scanning text on a computer screen, so embedding the Ubuntu version in lots of other text can be frustrating.
  • Tech support for Linux in general often requires knowing what Linux kernel version someone is using, and sometimes requires knowing what version of Gnome or KDE they are using.


About This Computer (about-window) is a Python script that checks the existence of the environment variable KDE_FULL_SESSION. If it is present, the script will import a Python module that pulls in PyQT and draws the dialog using the QT toolkit. Otherwise, the Python module that utilities PyGTK and Glade will be used.

We will query the following information about the system:

  • CPU type and speed, using /proc/cpuinfo
  • RAM, using /proc/meminfo, or "free"
  • Hard disk size (use the disk / hangs off), using hal via dbus
  • Graphics card, also using hal via dbus
  • Network card, also using hal via dbus
  • Version of Ubuntu, using lsb-release.
  • Version of desktop environment -- this is a can of worms, but we are limiting ourselves to querying the version of GNOME, KDE or XFCE. If we find none of them, then do not display anything.
  • Version of the Linux kernel, using "uname -r"


The dialog box will be designed to look identical if using PyQT or PyGTK, with the only difference being the toolkit used. The icon of the window will be a visually attractive computer icon, with this also being shown prominently on the left hand of the window.

The right hand side of the window will be made up of two sections, with the first being:

CPU: <CPU type> <CPU speed>
Memory: <RAM information>
Hard Disk: <size of the disk / is on>
Graphics Card: <Graphics Card information>
Network Card: <Network Card information>

And the second displaying:

<icon grabbed from the icon theme "start-here"> Ubuntu <Ubuntu version>
(Only displayed if gnome-session exists) <gnome icon> Gnome <Gnome version>
(Only displayed if kded exists) <KDE icon> KDE <KDE version>
(Only displayed if xfce-session exists) <XFCE icon> XCFE <XCFE version>
<tux icon> Linux <kernel version>

A Close button on the bottom right of the window.

All text should be able to be drag and dropped as one large block into IRC, a bug report or a forum post.


The current information shown in About Ubuntu, and to a lesser extent in About GNOME will be assimilated into the documentation that the Help and Support menu item displays.


An "About This Computer" item on the System menu will replace the "About Ubuntu", and "About Gnome" menu items.


An "About This Computer" item will be added to the standard KDE application Help menu which will launch the QT version of the app.


An "About This Computer" item will be added to the System menu.

Test/Demo Plan

Check that for common hardware (everything testers can get their hands on and more), that About This Computer correctly detects the Ubuntu version, the processor and the RAM size (with appropriate and correct scaling/rounding), along with the desktop environments that the user has installed.


* Hope this is a useful comment: While I think that it is a good idea to have a place for the user to see system information, what I _don't_ like is that I feel that a lot of ubuntu-y things seem to get modeled after windows design, such as "about this computer" -> this spec. Linux and ubuntu are supposed to be independent O/S' which would have the user base they did if everyone in it wanted to use windows. Let's change our way of thinking just a bit, and work on our own unique ideas, better to not try to be `inspired' by windows, we are creative capable individuals! As for a useful suggestion, perhaps make a "system information" dialog, that lists output from common commands such as df -h, free, etc... or perhaps, look at System Monitor 2.20.1 which has the "System" tab, which already lists some of these things... maybe we could expand that? I already feel that it looks pretty windows-y, but maybe we can fix that and make it our own. If there's something more useful I could contribute please let me know! -purpleidea@gmail.com I'm not sure I have the GTK experience to put my thoughts into code, but if someone wants to mentor me, then i'm there. ~~~~ purpleidea / james

* I agree with James that Ubuntu should not try to be an open source Windows; Ubuntu should simply seek to be the best OS available of any type. But for this particular feature I think Ubuntu is following a standard that has been set in Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems and applications already; people are used to having an 'About...' menu option that tells them about the program they are using. So this isn't following Windows as it is following a common UI standard that most computer users are familiar with. Also, as Ubuntu gains ground with the 'average user', having things like this that make it easy for that person to find out all the needed info about their setup is vital. GreggKing2

* The "don't be an open-source Windows" argument is used a lot to oppose new features that resemble something that exists in Windows. I agree that Ubuntu should follow its own path, but at the same time, it should be able to learn from others' mistakes. Interoperability is a major issue when switching operating systems and this is one of those small things that makes administration a little easier for everyone, especially when coming from other operating systems. Just because Windows/Mac/Amiga/etc. has something similar, we shouldn't deny our users and help desk people an easier method of getting system info simply because we want to be different. Different is good, but as Gregg mentions, it's more of a UI standard, and ditching it for the sole purpose of being different is kind of silly. RossPeoples

* With regards to the closing of the spec. It isn't currently a priority for the desktop team as QA is working on a different tool for collecting data along with bug reports. The spec is not posted yet. It is also likely that the System menu will be de-emphasized in the future as we move to a more "control center" style preferences configuration. TedGould

See Also


DesktopTeam/Specs/AboutThisComputer (last edited 2012-09-04 11:08:23 by mpt)