How to check your Ubuntu version (Using the command line and GUI)

Ubuntu is an open source Operating System (OS) used by people all over the world. Although it is user-friendly and customizable, it may not always be compatible with additional software. As such, you need to check if your version of Ubuntu will integrate with other programs.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to check your Ubuntu version. You can do so using commands in the terminal or by accessing the settings in the Graphical User Interface (GUI).

This guide discs what Ubuntu is and why you might want to check which version of it you are running. It then explains how to perform this check using various easy methods.

An overview of Ubuntu (and reasons to check your version)

Ubuntu is aLinux-based OS popular across the world. You can use the desktop, server, or core versions, depending on your needs.

The platform is entirely free. It also has some advantages over other OS such as Windows or macOS.

For example, it uses open source software and provides a secure development environment. As such, Ubuntu can be a helpful tool for web developers.

You can also customize most aspects of your User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). Therefore, Ubuntu could be an excellent choice if you feel limited by other OS options.

There are updated releases of Ubuntu approximately every six months. New versions of the software usually include maintenance and hardware updates that help the OS run more smoothly. As such, it’s in your best interest to stay up to date with the latest release.

However, you may not know if you’re running the latest version of Ubuntu. Therefore, you might like to check your OS and see if you need to update it.

Furthermore, you may need to check your Ubuntu version when installing third-party software. Not all other platforms may be compatible with the OS updates, so it’s worth investigating this before you install them.

How to check your Ubuntu version in the command line (4 methods)

You can check your Ubuntu version quickly using the command line (also known as the terminal). You can access this tool by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + T.

Once you have the command line open, you can use a few different methods to find out your Ubuntu version. Let’s explore some of them.

1. Use the lsb_release -a command

The lsb_release command shows you details about your Linux distribution. For example, it displays data concerning LSB modules. It also shows the ID and release number of the distributor.

When you add -a to the end of the command, it returns all possible information. This method is pretty straightforward, so you might want to use it if you need to find out your Ubuntu version quickly.

To start, open up your terminal and type in this command:

lsb_release -a

Then hit your Enter key to return the results. They should look something like this.

You can see your Ubuntu version next to the Description heading. You can also see data about your LSB modules and the codename for your distributor.

2. Use the /etc/lsb-release or /etc/os-release command

The /etc/lsb-release command shows your Ubuntu version with separate lines for the release number and its description. It is designed for older systems, so you may use it if you’re running an outdated version of Ubuntu.

You can also obtain the same information using the /etc/os-release command. This is compatible with Ubuntu 16.04 and higher.

As before, open your terminal and enter one of the above commands. You need to add cat before either of them:

cat etc/os-release

Then, see a list of information that includes the number of your Ubuntu version and its release name. Additionally, there are a few links to the Ubuntu website and resources that can help you.

Using the /etc/lsb-release command returns simpler results that show you the release ID, description, and codename. It doesn’t include the links and the Ubuntu version name.

3. Check the /etc/issue file

The /etc/issue file is a text-based document. It contains system identification data.

Using this method is simpler because the command won’t display anything other than your Ubuntu version. As such, you may like to utilize this file if you’re in a hurry and don’t need to gather any additional information about your system.

As with the previous commands, you’ll need to enter cat before the command. Type this into your terminal:

cat /etc/issue

Hit Enter, and you see a single line of text.

Your version of Ubuntu is the series of numbers before LTS. You don’t need to do anything else here.

4. Use the hostnamectl command

Finally, you can use the hostnamectl command. This is typically used when you want to change the hostname of your system. However, it also returns information such as your Ubuntu version and machine ID.

Open up your terminal and type in this command:


Here you can see both your Ubuntu version and your Ubuntu Linux kernel version. That’s it! Those are the main methods you can use to find the version of your Ubuntu OS.

How to check your Ubuntu version in the GUI settings?

If you’d rather not use the command line, you can also find your Ubuntu version in your GUI settings. You might prefer to use this method if you’re still getting used to working with the OS and its layout. However, it is a bit more time-consuming.

First, head to Show Applications. It’s the icon in the bottom left of your screen:

Next, click on Settings. If you can’t find it, type “settings” into the search bar at the top of the screen.

Then select the About tab from the left menu. You’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the list of items to find it. Here, you will be able to see your Ubuntu version next to the OS Name heading.


Ubuntu is an open source OS that provides an excellent web development environment. However, it isn’t perfect and may not integrate with all the latest software. Therefore, you might need to check your version of Ubuntu before installing new programs.

To recap, you can check your Ubuntu version using any of the following methods:

  • Use the lsb_release -a command.

  • Use the /etc/lsb-release or /etc/os-release command.

  • Check the /etc/issue file.

  • Use the hostnamectl command.

  • Check the Ubuntu version in your GUI settings.

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