How To Find Out My Linux Distribution Name and Version

How do I find out what version of Linux distribution I am using from the shell (bash) prompt? How can I tell my Linux distribution name and version?

You can use any one of the following method to find out your Linux distribution and name:

a] /etc/*-release file.

b] lsb_release command

c] /proc/version file.

d] hostnamectl command

Method 1. Use /etc/*-release file to display Linux distro version

To find out what version of Linux (distro) you are running, enter the following cat command at the shell prompt:
$ cat /etc/*-release
Sample output from my RHEL v5.x server:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5 (Tikanga)

Sample outputs from my Ubuntu Linux v7.10 server:

DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=7.10
DISTRIB_CODENAME=gutsy
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 7.10"

Method 2. Use lsb_release command To find out Linux distribution name and version

The lsb_release command displays certain LSB (Linux Standard Base) and distribution-specific information. Type the following command:
$ lsb_release -a
Sample outputs:

No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID:	Debian
Description:	Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.1 (squeeze)
Release:	6.0.1
Codename:	squeeze

Method 3. Use hostnamectl to find out my Linux distribution name and version

For GNU systemd based distro this is the best option:
$ hostnamectl

What version of Linux am I running?

How do I find out My Linux kernel version?

Type the following uname command:
$ uname -a
OR
$ uname -mrs
Sample outputs:

Linux 2.6.32-5-amd64 x86_64

Linux 2.6.32-5-amd64 x86_64

Where,

  1. Linux – Kernel name
  2. 2.6.32-5-amd64 – Kernel version number
  3. x86_64 – Machine hardware name (64 bit)

Here is output from my SUSE Enterprise Linux server:

Get Linux distribution name and version number in a shell

Say hello to /proc/version

Type the following command to see kernel version and gcc version used to build the same:
$ cat /proc/version
Sample outputs:

Linux version 3.2.0-0.bpo.1-amd64 (Debian 3.2.4-1~bpo60+1) ([email protected]) (gcc version 4.4.5 (Debian 4.4.5-8) ) #1 SMP Sat Feb 11 08:41:32 UTC 2012

Another outputs from my CentOS 7 box:

Linux version 3.10.0-957.1.3.el7.x86_64 ([email protected]) (gcc version 4.8.5 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-36) (GCC) ) #1 SMP Thu Nov 29 14:49:43 UTC 2018

And SUSE Enterprise Linux server:

Linux version 4.4.162-94.69-default ([email protected]) (gcc version 4.8.5 (SUSE Linux) ) #1 SMP Mon Nov 5 18:58:52 UTC 2018 (9e06c56)

Related media

This tutorial is also available in a quick video format:

Putting It All Together

Animated gif.01: Finding out Linux distribution name and version with various commands demo

Conclusion

This page showed various commands to figure out what Linux kernel version and Linux distribution your server/desktop/laptop is running.

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.