I just noticed this file, .face, in my home directory:

-rw-r--r--   1 root     root       14747 2012-01-07 01:35 .face

Never seen it or heard of it before, and google doesn't seem to know either. Anyone have any idea?

I'm running 11.10 Desktop x64, clean installed right around the date of this file (Jan 7, 2012).


It looks like the login manager (GDM) profile image but since you do not explain what version of Ubuntu or GNOME one can only assume.

The ~/.face file is an image file used by GNOME by some functions in the system as, for example, the display picture for GDM, the users profile in the System Settings, etc.


Use the file command to get more information about the file. Mine for example is a PNG:

livewire@ZS00:~$ file .face 
.face: PNG image, 96 x 96, 8-bit/color RGB, non-interlaced

This particular file is used in Ubuntu as a resource for your avatar/user picture. You can either replace it with an image directly (JPEG and PNG should work, square geometry preferred, not to large in size) or use the default user and groups managing menu of the various Ubuntu versions. 11.10 and 11.04 are documented:



It's strange that the file is owned by root, this shouldn't be the case and usually if you don't have set a picture this file does not exist. Please use the afore mentioned file command on the file. I assume that it's just a picture and if I recall correctly the 11.10 installer already invoked an attached camera during installation to give you the opportunity to take a photo of yourself and use that as an avatar. So chances are high it's just a picture of you. It might just be a bug that the file is owned by root.

  • The file command is extremely useful whenever you come across a file you don't have any other information on. – Huckle Mar 19 '12 at 4:01
  • Excellent, didn't know that one, thanks! – Kurtosis Mar 21 '12 at 22:38

There used to be a System Preference called About where you entered user information like name, address and phone numbers. It also allowed the you to specify a user image. This image was stored in your home folder as .face which used in a number of system functions. If you have a .face, Unity System Settings -- User will use it. If you click the user image there you'll be offered the opportunity to select a new image.

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