Check OS version in Linux from command line

How to check OS version in Linux from command line ?

This tutorial guides you on how to check OS version in Linux from command line. Linux is a open source and free Operating System. There are various distributions of Linux available. For example, Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora etc.,. We need to know the OS Version and other details of our Linux. Therefore, you can patch it up with necessary updates and packages as and when required.

Check OS version in Linux from command line

Check OS version in Linux from command line

There are various ways using which you can find out the Linux OS version and other details. Before you trying these approaches make sure that you have SSH access to the Linux machine.

Once you know the SSH credentials of your Linux system then login using Putty. After that, follow any one of the following ways to find the OS version from command line.

Using /etc/os-release

Type the following command to find the OS version and other useful information.

$ cat /etc/os-release


VERSION="20.04.2 LTS (Focal Fossa)"
PRETTY_NAME="Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS"
PRIVACY_POLICY_URL="                                                                             cy"

You can also use grep command to filter out and check specific information that you are looking for. For example, let’s see how to filter out only the OS version using grep and the /etc/os-release command.

~$ grep '^VERSION' /etc/os-release


VERSION="20.04.2 LTS (Focal Fossa)"

hostnamectl command – OS & Kernel Version

The hostnamectl command can be used to control Linux system hostname and related settings. Try running the following command to find the OS and Kernel version details.

~$ hostnamectl


 Static hostname: ubuntu-virtual-machine
 Icon name: computer-vm
 Chassis: vm
 Machine ID: c0328e0dbdf8438dac5abf58470aa747
 Boot ID: 94f2c038b7ee42138b3455cf1d7a3569
 Virtualization: vmware
 Operating System: Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
 Kernel: Linux 5.4.0-42-generic
 Architecture: x86-64

Check OS version using lsb_release command

The lsb_release command prints LSB(Linux Standard Base) information about the specific Linux distribution. This information includes distributor ID, description, release version, codename as shown in the below example.

$ lsb_release -a


No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
Release:        20.04
Codename:       focal

uname commands

The following uname commands can be used to just print the OS Kernel version details.

$ uname -r

$ uname -a
Linux ubuntu-virtual-machine 5.4.0-42-generic #46-Ubuntu SMP Fri Jul 10 00:24:02 UTC 2020 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

proc version to check Kernel Version

Similar to uname command proc version command also can be used to check Kernel Version as shown below.

$ cat /proc/version


Linux version 5.4.0-42-generic (buildd@lgw01-amd64-038) (gcc version 9.3.0 (Ubuntu 9.3.0-10ubuntu2)) #46-Ubuntu SMP Fri Jul 10 00:24:02 UTC 2020

Check OS version using /etc/

Try running cat /etc/ command to check only the OS version of your Linux.

For example,

~$ cat /etc/


Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS

That’s it. You have learnt many ways using which you can check OS version and kernel version in Linux from command line.

Hope it is helpful 🙂

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