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is there a command which will output the date that ubuntu (or any distribution) was installed?

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9 Answers 9

You can check the installer logs and dates at:

/var/log/installer

A quick way to find the date through the command line would be by running:

ls -l /var/log/installer
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This file isn't on my Lucid system. –  richq Aug 7 '10 at 20:31
    
On my system, I have 7 files under /var/log/installer/ . I installed from 9.10, and later updated to 10.04. –  Stefan Lasiewski Aug 10 '10 at 0:34
    
I do also have this folder on my (freshly installed) 10.04 system and the creation dates of those files give me the install date. The file /var/log/installer/media-info for example contains the information about the installation media that was used for the install. –  Marcel Stimberg Aug 10 '10 at 12:29
    
On my system that was installed originally with 7.10, /var/log/installer/version has a date of 2007-10-30, so this seems to be quite reliable... –  JanC Oct 21 '10 at 3:02
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A pastable answer might be ls -ld /var/log/installer. –  sidewaysmilk May 29 '12 at 21:45
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If you use ext2/ext3/ext4 and formatted the disk when you installed you can do this nifty trick.

sudo dumpe2fs /dev/sda1 | grep 'Filesystem created:'

You might have to change the /dev/sda1 to reflect your setup.

Relaying on the date of files, even the "creation time" (mtime) can give errors since upgrading packages might have replaced the file and made a new "creation time".

Similar tools and info might be available on other file systems as well, but I don't know of them.

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When I do this I get the error dumpe2fs: Bad magic number in super-block while trying to open /dev/sda1 –  king_julien Apr 2 at 20:28
    
@king_julien Are you sure that your /dev/sda1 is your systems root partition? It may be different on your install, in fact the filesystem type may be an other than what is supported by dumpe2fs! –  Source Lab Apr 2 at 21:36
    
Thanks, I got it now. It was /dev/sda2. On /dev/sda1 I have /boot/efi. –  king_julien Apr 3 at 18:36
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I also don't know of a specific command or file. I'm using some heuristics to find the installation date:

for dir in {/etc,/usr,/lib}; do
  sudo find $dir -type f -exec stat -c %z {} \; | \
    sed -e 's,-,,g' -e 's, .*,,' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr -k 2 | \ 
    grep -Ev " [0-9]?[0-9] "
done

This small script looks for files in /etc and /usr and prints out the last changed date. It does some reformatting and lists the occurrences sorted by date (newest first). Usually the oldest entry is the installation date.

This assumes that after an installation are left unchanged. This is in most cases (according to my observation) true, but in special cases it can also give wrong results.

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tried it on /etc only (faster), the date was the same as from the dumpe2fs solution, so for me it worked well! –  eik3 Feb 28 at 15:52
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I don't think there is.

On Red Hat / CentOS there is the install.log files that is generated when you install the system, but this doesn't exist on Ubuntu.

Assuming your logs go back far enough ( mine do ) you can determine the date the base installation was done in /var/log/dpkg.log*

For example on my system the first two lines of my oldest dpkg.log file (dpkg.log.4.gz) are

2010-04-19 11:40:55 startup archives install
2010-04-19 11:40:55 install base-files <none> 5.0.0ubuntu18

So I installed this system on 19/04/2010 at 11:40:55. That is correct for this system.

There was also a brainstorm idea to add this born date.

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Thank-you andol, thank-you Richard. /var/log/dpkg.log.1 on a lucid desktop system gave a correct answer where as /var/log/dpkg.log was the only file on a lucid server setup I have, so a little detective work was needed. Some further understanding of the log files will be helpful. –  lxtips Aug 6 '10 at 7:05
    
The default setup of logrotate discards dpkg logs older than one year. –  Source Lab Aug 10 '10 at 12:13
    
@Source Lab : Yup. My answer is not foolproof. I did not know about the /var/log/installer directory but do now. That is a better solution. –  Richard Holloway Aug 10 '10 at 17:20
    
I still think that the filesystem creation time is the best pointer se here –  Source Lab Aug 10 '10 at 17:31
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If the installation is recent, look at the oldest entries under /var/log, but after a few weeks the logs will have been rotated away.

Another thing to look at is the oldest ctime of a file on the root filesystem; but if the whole installation has been copied (e.g. rescued off a failing disk) at the directory tree level, this gives you the date of the copy.

If a heuristic is good enough, look at the date (mtime) of a file that was created during the installation and is unlikely to have been modified since. A good candidate is /etc/hostname; other candidates are /etc/hosts, /etc/papersize, /etc/popularity-contest.conf.

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I would check the creation date of the /boot folder.

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would it be simple (i may be wrong) just to check software centre, while in there click on 'history' and scroll down to the bottom of your installed updates. Mine shows april 23 2012 first installation. Which is about right when I started using ubuntu?

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The command sudo grep ubiquity /var/log/installer/syslog | less worked for me very well.

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Give this a shot:

ls /var/lib/dpkg/info/*.list -lh | sort -r -k 6 | tail -1 | awk '{print $6}'

Should work pretty reliably except if you've updated every package that was installed stock on Ubuntu :)

Later edit:

ls /var/lib/dpkg/info/*.list -lht | tail -1 | awk '{print $6}'

should do the same thing and is shorter.

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let me tell you it is wrong.it does not display the date of instalation but displays the oldest package which will the release date of the os. –  Alaukik Jan 29 '11 at 12:39
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