My understanding is that Ubuntu is based on Debian. For example, on the Wikipedia page for Ubuntu it states "It is a Linux distribution based on the Debian architecture." How can I find out what version of Debian a particular version of Ubuntu is based on (if any)?

For example, the current stable release of Ubuntu is "Artful Aardvark" (17.10) which announces that it is based on the Linux 4.13 kernel, but does not seem to say anything about the Debian version.

The current stable release of Debian is code named "Stretch" (9.2) which advertises a 4.9 kernel (on the afore-linked Stretch page). How can I find out the details of the relationship between them? Is there a particular command that will reveal this information?

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    "So, to sum it all up with an analogy.. Ubuntu is to Debian, as your local restaurant is to the local farmer's market. Chef Ubuntu goes to the Debian farmer's market periodically, finds the best fresh ingredients, mixes them with his own special blend, and produces food for his intended audience. For people who enjoy cooking, they can, and do, just go down to the market and get what they need." - from: askubuntu.com/a/1358 Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


Ubuntu releases aren’t based on Debian releases. During the development of an Ubuntu release, packages are imported from Debian unstable, until the Debian import freeze (in the past, LTS releases imported from testing, and this is what the linked wiki page still suggests; however looking at my packages shows that 18.04 is importing packages from unstable). This means that a given Ubuntu release will have non-Ubuntu-maintained packages in whatever version was in Debian at the time of the import freeze (barring explicit sync requests); but that doesn’t match what the next release of Debian will contain.

So trying to tie a release of Ubuntu to a release of Debian would just end up being misleading.

You can look at the contents of /etc/debian_version to see the Debian codename of the version (under construction) from which packages were pulled; you can also match Debian import freeze dates from the release schedules (for example, Artful’s, Bionic’s, Cosmic’s, or Disco’s). You’ll see from this that the same Debian release feeds multiple Ubuntu releases (e.g. Stretch, which ended up being Debian 9, fed Xenial, Yakkety, Zesty and Artful; Buster, which will end up being Debian 10, fed Bionic and Cosmic, and is feeding Disco), with quite different package versions each time.


Ubuntu normally imports packages from Debian unstable until the "Debian import freeze". For earlier LTS releases they chose to import from Debian testing instead but nowadays all releases (both LTS and non-LTS) import from unstable. You can find the date of the "Debian import freeze" by looking at the "release schedule" pages. For example according to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ArtfulAardvark/ReleaseSchedule the Debian import freeze happened on the 24th August 2017.

However for many core packages Ubuntu makes their own descisions and often ends up with newer versions because they have less concerns about supporting esoteric architectures and configurations. For example at the time of Artful's Debian import freeze Debian sid had Linux kernel 4.12 but Ubuntu Artful shipped with 4.13.

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