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How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Chris Hoffman
How to tell what version of ubuntu you are runningChris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Canonical releases a new stable release of Ubuntu every six months, and a new long-term support version every six months. Here’s how to check which version of Ubuntu you have installed.

You can check your version of Ubunto by using your desktop’s graphical settings window, or by running a command in a terminal window. Let’s take a look at the graphical method on both the GNOME and Unity desktops, and then at the terminal command.

On GNOME Shell

If you’re using the GNOME Shell desktop—in other words, if your desktop looks similar to the screenshot below—click the icons at the top right corner of your screen, and then click the “Settings” icon.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Scroll down in the list, and then select the “Details” option.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

The About page shows you which Ubuntu version you’re running.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

On Unity

If you’re using the older Unity desktop—in other words, if your desktop looks similar to the screenshot below—click the gear icon at the top right corner of the desktop, and then select the “System Settings” option.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Click the “Details” icon in the System section of the System Settings window.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

The Overview page shows which Ubuntu version you’re running.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

In the Terminal

You can also check your Ubuntu version with a terminal command. This command works on alternate Ubuntu flavors like Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and Lubuntu. It also works if you’re using a command-line environment with no graphical desktop, as you would on an Ubuntu server.

First, open a Terminal window from your desktop’s applications menu. Type the following command, and then press Enter:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Unlike when you use the graphical interface, this command also shows the minor version number of your installed Ubuntu version in the Description field (if applicable). For example, if you’re running Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS, you’ll see “Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS” when you issue the command. Using the graphical interface, you’d see only “Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.”

These minor updates are provided through standard package updates. Just install the latest available updates via the graphical Software Updater tool or via the apt command to get them.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

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How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
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Lowell Heddings
How to tell what version of ubuntu you are runningLowell Heddings
Founder and CEO

Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work. Read more.

Telling what version of Ubuntu you are running is extremely easy. You would commonly use this command to figure out if you are running Edgy after you upgraded from Dapper.

cat /etc/issue

Ubuntu edgy (development branch)

Note that the version numbers might change over time. I’m running the beta version so that’s what shows up when I run that command. Either way, it should be clear that you are running Edgy.

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  • › Razer Thinks You Want a PC Gaming Headset That Vibrates
  • › How to Get a Link to a Photo or Video on Instagram
  • › The Fix for Slow AMD Processors on Windows 11 Is Here

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running Lowell Heddings
Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
Read Full Bio »

This guide will show you how to check the version of Ubuntu installed on your system.

Ubuntu Version

Ubuntu has two types of releases: stable and LTS. Most of the time, LTS (Long-Term Support) releases are prioritized. This is the “enterprise-grade” release of Ubuntu that is supported until the next LTS release comes out. In the case of normal stable releases, they are not supported for such a long term.

Now, we will talk about Ubuntu version numbering. Ubuntu version numbers follow the “YY.MM” structure. For example, Ubuntu 18.04 was released in April 2018.

For a better and more in-depth understanding of the Ubuntu release cycle, check out the official Ubuntu page on release cycles. There are various tools that you can use to check the version of the current Ubuntu installation you are currently using. Depending on the tool’s UI, this function will be divided into two categories: CLI (Command-Line Interface) and GUI (Graphical User Interface).

Check Ubuntu Version using CLI

lsb_release

The lsb_release function is a dedicated tool that comes with Ubuntu (and various other distros) to report distro-specific information.

To check the Ubuntu version, run the following command. This command returns a comprehensive report on your system.

If you are not interested in the more elaborate report, use the “-d” flag to narrow it down to the system version only. Issue the following command to do so:

neofetch

Neofetch is a lightweight and customizable bash script for grabbing system info. Compared to lsb_release, the output of neofetch is more vibrant and charming. Moreover, neofetch offers a ton of options to customize the information it reports.

First, install neofetch on Ubuntu. It is available directly from the default Ubuntu repositories.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Want to change the ASCII distro icon? Use the “–ascii_distro” flag, followed by the target distro, as follows:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

If the ASCII image is not important to you, then you can remove it from the output.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

There are tons of available options that neofetch supports. If you are interested, you can check out the neofetch customization wiki at GitHub.

screenfetch

Similar to neofetch, screenfetch is another tool that leverages bash script to report information about your system. Unlike neofetch, however, screenfetch comes with fewer features. If you are looking for simplicity, then screenfetch is probably the way to go.

Like neofetch, screenfetch is also available from the default Ubuntu repositories. Fire up the terminal and install screenfetch.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

To remove the ASCII distro logo, use the “-n” flag.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

To obtain the ASCII distro logo only as the output, use the “-L” flag.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

System Files

There are also certain files that contain information about the system. The contents of these files will reveal information about the Linux distro you are running on your system.

The /etc/issue file contains a system identification text. The first portion of the content is what we will be looking at. Run the following command to retrieve the /etc/issue file:

Another file to check out is the /etc/os-release file. This file contains a lot of information about the system. However, it is only available on Ubuntu 16.04 or newer systems.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

hostnamectl

The hostnamectl command is a tool that is dedicated to query and modify the system hostname and related settings. However, this command can also be used to check the version of Ubuntu that your system is running. For this method to work, you must be running Ubuntu 16.04 or a newer version on your system.

Issue the following command in the terminal:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Check Ubuntu Version Using GUI

If you are not interested in running commands in the terminal, then worry not! Since Ubuntu 18.04, GNOME is the default desktop environment. GNOME offers a very simple way of checking the system information.

First, launch GNOME “Settings.”

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

From the left panel, scroll down and select “About.”

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Everything you need to know about your system, including the version of Ubuntu that it is currently running, should be right here.

Final Thoughts

While the Ubuntu distro is updated every few months or years, the individual packages that comprise the distro are updated more frequently. It is important to keep your Ubuntu system up-to-date with all the latest stable packages. This ensures the best system stability and security. Learn how to update all packages on Ubuntu here.

About the author

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Sidratul Muntaha

Student of CSE. I love Linux and playing with tech and gadgets. I use both Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

For students and new users learning how to use Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04 or 18.10, it might be a good idea to find out which version of Ubuntu they’re running. Finding out the version of Ubuntu might save you time and headache down the road.

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to check or find out the Ubuntu version curently being used. They may also notice that there are several ways to find out — from the command line terminal to the desktop interface.

The important thing to remember is that Ubuntu normal releases come out every 6 months, while LTS (Long Term Support) releases occur every two years. LTS versions are supported for 5 years on both desktop and the server, and standard releases are supported for 9 months.When you’re ready to find out Ubuntu versions, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Using Ubuntu Terminal

To find out the versons of Ubuntu being used via the command line terminal, one option is go use the lsb_release utility. LSB (Linux Standard Base) is a utility that provides information about Linux distribution.

This utility is the preferred method to use. it works across the board. no matter which desktop environment or Ubuntu version you are running. To use the utility, open your terminal by typing Ctrl — Alt — T on your keybaord to open the terminal. Then type the commands below:

That should output similar info sheet below:

That gives you the version of Ubuntu and the release number.

You can also use the -d switch to only display the description with the lsb_release command.

Another way to find out Ubuntu version is via the issue or the os-release file

That should output the line below:

The issue file contains the operating system identification text.

Anternatively, you may look in the /etc/os-release file to learn find out Ubuntu info. That file contains more operating system identification data.

That shoud ouput the lines below:

The hostnamectl command also shows you info about Ubuntu.

That should ouput the info sheet below:

These are some of the many ways to find out Ubuntu version number from the command line.

Step 2: Using Ubuntu Desktop Interface

To find out Ubuntu version number and system details from the desktop interface, logon to the desktop and go to the Settings option in the top right corner.

Ubuntu is a free, open-source Linux-based operating system, which has a long list of release versions. Finding out which Ubuntu version is running on your system can be important when troubleshooting issues or searching for installation guides.

In this tutorial, learn how to check the Ubuntu version running on your machine.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

  • A system running Ubuntu
  • Access to a user account with sudo or root privileges
  • A terminal window/command line (CtrlAltT)

There are two (2) simple ways to determine the Ubuntu version installed on your server. Check the version in the terminal window or use Ubuntu’s default graphical interface.

How to Check Ubuntu Version in Terminal

If you prefer using the terminal, you can determine the Ubuntu version installed on your machine in three (3) different ways.

Check Ubuntu Version with lsb_release –a Command

  1. Open the terminal (use the Ctrl+Alt+T keyboard shortcut).
  2. Type in the following command and hit Enter:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

The output displays the current version of Ubuntu. In the example seen in the image above, it is Ubuntu 18.04 (codenamed Bionic Beaver).

Check Ubuntu Version with cat /etc/lsb-release Command

Alternatively, you can use the command:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Check Ubuntu Version with cat /etc/*release Command

To get more in-depth information about the Ubuntu release, you can also use the command:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Check Ubuntu Version with hostnemctl Command

Another command that also gives you information about the Ubuntu version is the hostname command:

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

Check Ubuntu Version from Graphical Interface

You can quickly identify the Ubuntu version running on your system through the graphical interface.

1. First, select Activities in the top left corner.

2. In the search bar, enter Settings and click on the icon once it appears in the results.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

3. In the System Settings window, click on the Details tab.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

The Details section displays which Ubuntu version number you have, along with other information about your operating system.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

The image above indicates that the system running on the machine is Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (codenamed Bionic Beaver). LTS is an acronym that stands for Long-Term Support, meaning it’s a major version supported for up to 10 years.

Other Ubuntu LTS releases include:

  • Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa)
  • Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) which has an end of life in April 2021
  • Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)

After reading this article, you should know how to check which Ubuntu version you are running. Next, explore or even update the central core of the operating system, the Linux kernel.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are runningSince I have several computers that run Ubuntu with different versions on them, there are times when I need to find out what version of Ubuntu it is running. One reason is to make sure that your Ubuntu upgrade did in fact take properly.

ts real easy to find out which version Ubuntu you are running. Just open up a terminal window, and type the following:

cat /etc/issue

You will get something like this:

Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS \n \l

Which tells me that I am running Ubuntu version 14.04 LTS.

Sometimes this file does get edited for security reasons. If the /etc/issue file does not give you any information as to what version of Ubuntu you are running, you can also check the /etc/lsb-release file. In that case, you will see something like this:

DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=14.04
DISTRIB_CODENAME=trusty
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION=”Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS”

If you are running an Ubuntu Workstation, then just click on the SYSTEM SETTINGS icon then DETAILS and it will tell you which version of Ubuntu you are running.

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How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

With the increasing use of Linux, and specifically Ubuntu Server, in the Microsoft Azure ecosystem, it’s getting more important to know what version of the operating system is running. There are a couple simple methods that can be used to check the version of Ubuntu running on your Server or Desktop machine.

This article explains a few different methods for checking the installed version of Ubuntu on your server or desktop machine. The version method is the most commonly used and will work on most machines. However, there are cases where the first method may not work for you, so the following 3 methods provide alternatives to try.

Method 1: Check Ubuntu Version from SSH or Terminal

From the Terminal on the machine, or remotely connected over SSH, you can run the lsb_release command to check which version of Ubuntu is running. Using the -a switch will tell it to output all the version information for you.

Once the command executes you will see an output similar to the following; with the full Ubuntu version on the "Description" line:

To output just the Ubuntu version (not the full details), or just the "Description" value, then use the -d switch.

The "Description" only output will look similar to the following:

Method 2: Check Ubuntu Version within the /etc/issue file

The /etc directory contains a file named /issue . This files contents is the System Identification text for the currently installed system. Outputting this files contents using the cat command in the terminal will output it’s value.

Here’s the command that will output this to the terminal:

The terminal output will look similar to the following:

Method 3: Check Ubuntu Version within the /etc/os-release file

This is a method that only works on the newer releases of Ubuntu, from 16.04 and newer. Within the /etc directory there is a file named os-release . You can use the cat command to output the contents of this file to the terminal. The file contents will contain the PRETTY_NAME and VERSION values that will contain the version of Ubuntu that is installed.

Here’s the command that will output this to the terminal:

Here’s a sample of the terminal output from this command

Method 4: Check Ubuntu Version using the hostnamectl command

This is a method that only works on newer releases of Ubuntu, from 16.04 and newer. The hostnamectl command can be run form the terminal or SSH to output the system hostname and related information for the machine. This information includes the Ubuntu version of the current machine.

Here’s the command to use:

The output of the command will look similar to the following:

Conclusion

Hopefully one of the various methods for checking the currently installed version of Ubuntu will work on the server in your environment. There are times when it’s important to be aware of the version of Ubuntu running, and this is especially true when looking to upgrade servers or check service compatibility.

This is a commonly searched for and used task by many IT Pros and Developers alike (including myself), so I thought I’d write up some information to help make it more discoverable and easier to find when needed.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are runningby Nyongesa Sande

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

This is a guide on How to Tell What Version of Ubuntu You Are Running Telling what version of Ubuntu you are running is extremely easy. You would commonly use this command to figure out if you are running Edgy after you upgraded from Dapper.

The free Ubuntu operating system serves as a good alternative to Windows and macOS. The open-source system is highly flexible and comes with a variety of pre-installed software. Programmers can further develop its programs or use it for implementing their own software projects. But of course there will be times when you want to install additional programs. So how do you find out if your preferred software is compatible with your Ubuntu operating system? The Ubuntu version you’re using will be crucial information.

You’ll also need to know which Ubuntu version you’re running when troubleshooting. If you include the version number in your searches on forums and blogs, you’ll get a more specific answer to your questions. Keep reading to find out how to check your Ubu ntu version.

cat /etc/issue

Ubuntu edgy (development branch)

Note that the version numbers might change over time. I’m running the beta version so that’s what shows up when I run that command. Either way, it should be clear that you are running Edgy.

Checking the Ubuntu version in the terminal

There are two ways to check your Ubu ntu version in the terminal. Both of them use a simple command entered into the command line.

Option 1: Command lsb_release -a

  1. Open the terminal using “Show Applications” or use the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [T].
  2. Type the command “lsb_release -a” into the command line and press enter.
  3. The terminal shows the Ubuntu version you’re running under “Description” and “Release”.

Option 2: Read the contents of /etc/lsb-release

  1. Open the terminal using “Show Applications” or with the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [T].
  2. Type the command “cat /etc/lsb-release” into the command line and press enter.
  3. The terminal shows the Ubu ntu version you’re running under “DISTRIB_RELEASE” and “DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION”.

Checking the Ubuntu version in Settings

Another way to check your version is in the Settings. This can be done in just three clicks.

If you are a new Linux user and seeking help in one of the Linux forums, you may be asked this question:

“Which desktop environment are you using?”

You have an idea about what a desktop environment is but how do you know which one are you using? I’ll tell you how to find it out. I’ll show the command line method first because that is applicable to all kind of Linux distributions. I’ll also show the graphical way of getting this information.

Check which desktop environment you are using

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

You can use the echo command in Linux to display the value of XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP variable in the terminal.

Open the terminal and copy paste this command:

For example, it shows that I am using GNOME desktop in Ubuntu 20.04:

While this command quickly tells you which desktop environment is being used, it doesn’t give any other information.

Knowing the version of desktop environment (also called DE) could be important in some cases. Each new version of a software brings new features or removes some. GNOME 3.36 introduces a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option to toggle off all the desktop notifications.

Suppose you read about this new Do Not Disturb feature. You verify that you are using GNOME and yet you don’t see this option in your GNOME desktop. If you could check the GNOME desktop version you have installed on your system, that could make things clear for you.

I’ll show you the commands to check the desktop environment’s version first because you can use it in any Linux, running desktop environment.

How to get desktop environment version

Unlike getting the name of desktop environment. getting its version number is not straightforward because there is no standard command or environment variable that could give this information.

One way to get the desktop environment information in Linux is by using a tool like Screenfetch. This command line tool displays the logo of your Linux distribution in ascii format along with a few basic system information. Desktop environment version is one of them.

In Ubuntu based distributions, you can install Screenfetch by enabling Universe repository and then using this command:

For other Linux distributions, please use your system’s package manager to install this program.

Once installed, simply type screenfetch in the terminal and it should show the desktop environment version along with other system information.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

As you can see in the above image, my system is using GNOME 3.36.1 (basically GNOME 3.36). You can also check the Linux kernel version and other details here.

Please keep in mind that it is not guaranteed that Screenfetch will display the desktop environment version. I checked its source code and it has lots of if-else code to get the version information from a number of sources and parameters in various desktop environments. If it can find nothing on version, it just displays the DE name.

Using GUI to check desktop environment version

Almost all desktop environments provide basic system details in their Settings-About section.

The one major problem is that most DEs look different and thus I cannot show the exact steps for each of them. I am going to show it for GNOME and I let you discover it in your desktop.

So, search for Settings in the menu (press Windows key and search):

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

In here, go to the bottom to find the About section. Click on it and you should have the desktop environment along with its version.

How to tell what version of ubuntu you are running

As you can see, it shows that my system is using GNOME 3.36.

I hope you find this quick beginner tip useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.