I'm looking for a Unix/Linux command to determine what version of what distro I'm running.

Specifically, I want to be able distinguish between Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10.

I was thinking something along the lines of uname -a, but that didn't work.

Ubuntu 9.04 gives:

Linux myhost 2.6.28-17-generic #58-Ubuntu SMP Tue Dec 1 21:27:25 UTC 2009 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Ubuntu 9.10 gives:

Linux myhost 2.6.31-17-generic #54-Ubuntu SMP Thu Dec 10 17:01:44 UTC 2009 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Any suggestions?

2 Answers 2


You can use this,

cat /etc/issue

or this,

cat /etc/lsb-release

The latter is probably better since it also gives the release name such as "karmic", etc. But it depends what you're using it for I guess.

  • 1
    +1 /etc/issue works both on Debian and Ubuntu.
    – Johan
    Commented Jan 11, 2010 at 21:06

lsb_release also displays the version:

$ lsb_release -a 

No LSB modules are available.

Distributor ID: Ubuntu

Description: Ubuntu feisty( development branch)

Release: 7.04

Codename: feisty

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