What version of Ubuntu do I have?

Ubuntu is a free, Linux-based open source operating system with a long list of releases. When you first log in to an Ubuntu system, it is always a good idea to check the version of Ubuntu on the machine before you do anything on it. Finding which version of Ubuntu runs on your system may be essential to fix problems or seek installation guides.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you several ways to find your Ubuntu version using the command line or from the graphical interface.

Check Ubuntu version from the Command Line

To find out which Ubuntu version is running on your machine, one option is to use the lsb_release utility.
LSB stands for Linux Standard Base, responsible for displaying information about your specific Linux distribution, including version number, release codename, and distributor ID.
The tool works in every version of Ubuntu, regardless of which desktop environment or distro you are using.

Follow these steps to get information about your Ubuntu version :

  1. Open your terminal either by using the Ctrl+Alt+T keyboard shortcut or by clicking on the terminal icon.
  2. Type in lsb_release -a then hit Enter (Return) key.

The output should look like this :

No LSB modules are available. Distributor ID: Ubuntu Description: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Release: 18.04 Codename: bionic

In the Description line, you will find the name of the release running in your computer. As you can see from the example above, I’m using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

In case you don’t want any additional information about the codename, Distributor ID, etc, you can pass -d switch to lsb_release to limit its output to just “Description” line :

lsb_release -d

The output should look like this :

Description: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Check Ubuntu version by reading /etc/os-release file

Once in a while, you may encounter a stripped-down version of Ubuntu that doesn’t support lsb_release command.
In that case, you can check whether /etc/os-release exists in your system. /etc/os-release is a file which contains operating system identification data. This file can only be found in newer Ubuntu releases which uses systemd instead of initd. Or in plain English, it works with Ubuntu 16.04 or newer.

cat /etc/os-release

The output will look something like below:

NAME="Ubuntu" VERSION="18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver)" ID=ubuntu ID_LIKE=debian PRETTY_NAME="Ubuntu 18.04 LTS" VERSION_ID="18.04" HOME_URL="https://www.ubuntu.com/" SUPPORT_URL="https://help.ubuntu.com/" BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/" PRIVACY_POLICY_URL="https://www.ubuntu.com/legal/terms-and-policies/privacy-policy" VERSION_CODENAME=bionic UBUNTU_CODENAME=bionic

Check Ubuntu version by reading /etc/issue file

Just like /etc/os-release, there is another file contains system identification information located in /etc/issue. By reading it with cat, you will know which version of Ubuntu is running on your machine

/etc/issue

The output will look something like this:

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS \n \l

Check Ubuntu version using hostnamectl

hostnamectl is a program that can be used to set the system hostname, but apart from that, you can also use it to find out about your Ubuntu version.

hostnamectl
Static hostname: linuxize Icon name: computer-vm Chassis: vm Machine ID: f1ce51f447c84509a86afc3ccf17fa24 Boot ID: 2b3cd5003e064382a754b1680991040d Virtualization: kvm Operating System: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Kernel: Linux 4.15.0-22-generic Architecture: x86-64

Check Ubuntu Version with cat /etc/*release Command

To get more in-depth information about the current Ubuntu release, you can also read /etc/*release using this command:

cat /etc/*release
DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu DISTRIB_RELEASE=20.04 DISTRIB_CODENAME=focal DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 20.04 LTS" NAME="Ubuntu" VERSION="20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa)" ID=ubuntu ID_LIKE=debian PRETTY_NAME="Ubuntu 20.04 LTS" VERSION_ID="20.04" HOME_URL="https://www.ubuntu.com/" SUPPORT_URL="https://help.ubuntu.com/" BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/" PRIVACY_POLICY_URL="https://www.ubuntu.com/legal/terms-and-policies/privacy-policy" VERSION_CODENAME=focal UBUNTU_CODENAME=focal

Check Ubuntu Version from Graphical Interface

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

  1. Open up Activities by clicking in the top left corner.
  2. In the search bar, enter Settings and click on its icon once it appears in the results.Open Settings in Ubuntu
  3. In System Settings window, head over to Details tab.
system settings details of Ubuntu

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

Checking Ubuntu system information in Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver
In Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa), the Details section can be seen right after you open Settings, just like this :

System Information in Ubuntu 20.04

The example above indicates that the machine is running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa). LTS is an abbreviation for Long-Term Support, which literally means “This piece of software will be supported for up to 10 years”.
Three most recent Ubuntu LTS releases include:

  • Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa)
  • Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)

Conclusion

Now that you knew which release of Ubuntu is running on your computer, you have many options for the softwares to install and the the technologies you want to use to ensure rich user experience.
Regardless of software stack, regularly backing up your PC is always recommended. A simple, efficient and elegant way to do this is by using rclone. To get started, checkout our guide on how to install rclone.

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