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/"

About Benjamin

Benjamin is a Infrastructure and Software Engineer. On this blog he writes about Linux, Docker, Programming as well as other Systems topics.

Learn more about Linux

If you liked this article, check out Benjamin's book: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Troubleshooting Guide. Where you can learn a lot more about troubleshooting Linux systems. This book is filled with tips and techniques he has learned over years of managing mission critical systems.

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