Finding the OS version and Distribution in Linux

When supporting systems you have inherited or in environments that have many different OS versions and distributions of Linux. There are times when you simply don't know off hand what OS version or distribution the server you are logged into is.

Luckily there is a simple way to figure that out.

Ubuntu/Debian

$ cat /etc/lsb-release 
DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=13.04
DISTRIB_CODENAME=raring
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 13.04"

RedHat/CentOS/Oracle Linux

# cat /etc/redhat-release
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5 (Tikanga)

Catchall

If you are looking for a quick way and don't care what the output looks like, you can simply do this as well.

$ cat /etc/*-release
DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=13.04
DISTRIB_CODENAME=raring
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 13.04"
NAME="Ubuntu"
VERSION="13.04, Raring Ringtail"
ID=ubuntu
ID_LIKE=debian
PRETTY_NAME="Ubuntu 13.04"
VERSION_ID="13.04"
HOME_URL="http://www.ubuntu.com/"
SUPPORT_URL="http://help.ubuntu.com/"
BUG_REPORT_URL="http://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/"
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Benjamin Cane
Principal Engineer, Vice President

Benjamin Cane is Principal Engineer at American Express. He has more than 16 years of experience with roles in both systems and software engineering. He leverages both his systems and software skills to build end-to-end platforms. Platforms, purpose built for performance and resiliency. Benjamin is also the author of Red Hat Enterprise Linux - Troubleshooting Guide (2015, Packt Publishing), and he has published many popular articles on topics such as Linux, Docker, Python, Go and Performance Tuning. Thoughts and Opinions expressed in my articles are my own.

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