Different Methods for Checking Your Linux Version: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Check Linux Version

The term “Linux version” in the context of Linux operating systems typically refers to the specific distribution and version of the Linux kernel that is running on a given system.

For those you don’t know, the Linux kernel is the foundation of the Linux operating system, providing the fundamental services and functionality required to run applications and manage system resources.

Each Linux distribution contains a specific version of the Linux kernel and a set of tools and utilities designed to work with that kernel version. Different Linux distributions may also include different packages, libraries, and software applications.

This article covers several ways you can check the version information for the Linux installation on your computer

But first, let’s discuss why you need to check Linux version on your computer.

Table Of Content

  1. Why Should You Check Linux Version on Your Device
  2. How to Check Linux Version
  3. Conclusion
  4. FAQs

Why Should You Check Linux Version on Your Device

Knowing which version of Linux is installed on a system is helpful for various reasons, including troubleshooting, ensuring compatibility with specific software applications, and simply staying up to date with the latest features and security patches.

Checking Linux version is such an important task that it is often among the first checks carried out when you try to install a package on your Linux machine. In most cases, if there is a discrepancy between the package dependencies and the active Linux version on your device, you‘ll get a warning about the incompatibility.

You should also know that the Linux version is also important from the security perspective.

As vulnerabilities are discovered, developers release fixes that are usually targeted to a specific version. This means you need to be careful about the patches you download and install on your machine.

Given this importance, it is no wonder that there are several ways to check the Linux version, including the distribution’s command line interface, graphical user interface, or system information tools.

How to Check Linux Version:

Here are some ways you can check Linux version on your device.

Use the lsb release Utility

The “lsb release” utility displays information about the Linux distribution’s Linux Standard Base(LSB). This command should work on any Linux distribution that includes the “lsb-release" package:
$ lsb_release -a

$ lsb_release -a

The Description line displays the Linux distribution and version. As you can see, the test system is running Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS.

If you simply want the version information without any clutter, use the -d switch to display just the description line, which displays version information.

Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS.

Check the /etc/os-release file

The /etc/os-release file contains operating system identification data and distribution information. This file is included in the systemd package and is present on any system that uses systemd.

# cat /etc/os-release

# cat /etc/os-release

Print Out the /etc/issue file

The /etc/issue file includes system identification text that appears before the login prompt. This file usually contains information about the Linux version:

# cat /etc/issue

Print Out the /etc/issue file

Use the hostnamectl Command

The systemd utility hostnamectl is used to find out and change the system hostname. In addition to other information, this command also displays the version information.

# hostnamectl

hostnamectl Command

Use the /etc/*release file

If none of the above commands work for you, you are likely running an old and out-of-date Linux distribution. You can use one of the following commands to print the contents of the distribution release or version file.

# cat /etc/*release

/etc/*release file

# cat /etc/*version

# cat /etc/*version

Try the uname Command

The command “uname” displays systems information such as the Linux kernel architecture, name, version, and release.

# uname -srm

# uname -srm

The output above indicates that the Linux kernel is 64-bit and has the version “5.4.0-139-generic x86_64”.


Checking the Linux version is a simple process that can be achieved by using a few commands in the terminal.

uname -srm” and “lsb_release -a” are the most commonly used commands for displaying detailed information about the Linux distribution and kernel version.

Other commands, such as “cat /etc/os-release” and “hostnamectl,” can be used to learn more about the Linux version. It is critical to get the Linux version because it determines software and hardware compatibility with the operating system.


Q: How do I check the version of Linux I am running?

A: You may discover what version of Linux you are using with the commands “uname -a” or “cat /etc/release,”.

Q: How do these commands differ from each other: “uname -a” and “cat /etc/release”?

A: The “uname -a” command displays information about the operating system and its kernel, including the version number.

The command “cat /etc/release” details the Linux distribution and version you are using.

Q: Can I use a graphical user interface (GUI) to verify the Linux version?

A: Yes, most Linux distributions have a graphical tool for checking the version of Linux you are running. The exact method may vary depending on your distribution and desktop environment.

Q: Is it crucial to know what Linux version I’m using?

A: Yes, knowing the version of Linux you are running can be important for several reasons, such as troubleshooting issues, determining software compatibility, and staying up-to-date with security patche

Q: What if I run a Linux distribution that does not use the “cat /etc/release” command?

A: In some cases, you may need to use a different command to check the version of Linux you are running or consult the documentation for your specific distribution.

Q: Can I switch to a newer Linux version without losing my data?

A: It is possible to upgrade to a newer version of Linux without losing your data, but it is important to back up your important files and data before attempting an upgrade. Reading the documentation for your specific distribution before attempting an upgrade is also recommended.

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