242

I'm working on a simple bash script that should be able to run on Ubuntu and CentOS distributions (support for Debian and Fedora/RHEL would be a plus) and I need to know the name and version of the distribution the script is running (in order to trigger specific actions, for instance the creation of repositories). So far what I've got is this:

OS=$(awk '/DISTRIB_ID=/' /etc/*-release | sed 's/DISTRIB_ID=//' | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]')
ARCH=$(uname -m | sed 's/x86_//;s/i[3-6]86/32/')
VERSION=$(awk '/DISTRIB_RELEASE=/' /etc/*-release | sed 's/DISTRIB_RELEASE=//' | sed 's/[.]0/./')

if [ -z "$OS" ]; then
    OS=$(awk '{print $1}' /etc/*-release | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]')
fi

if [ -z "$VERSION" ]; then
    VERSION=$(awk '{print $3}' /etc/*-release)
fi

echo $OS
echo $ARCH
echo $VERSION

This seems to work, returning ubuntu or centos (I haven't tried others) as the release name. However, I have a feeling that there must be an easier, more reliable way of finding this out -- is that true?

It doesn't work for RedHat. /etc/redhat-release contains : Redhat Linux Entreprise release 5.5

So, the version is not the third word, you'd better use :

OS_MAJOR_VERSION=`sed -rn 's/.*([0-9])\.[0-9].*/\1/p' /etc/redhat-release`
OS_MINOR_VERSION=`sed -rn 's/.*[0-9].([0-9]).*/\1/p' /etc/redhat-release`
echo "RedHat/CentOS $OS_MAJOR_VERSION.$OS_MINOR_VERSION"
5
  • Are you sure +-release works? Effectively you're looking assuming it will be /etc/lsb-release, so perhaps just call it that.
    – Mikel
    Jan 24, 2011 at 5:57
  • @Mikel: I replaced * with + to avoid the comment formating, it should be etc/*-release, it seems to work.
    – Alix Axel
    Jan 24, 2011 at 6:20
  • 9
    Never introduce a syntax error to get formatting right. Besides, the formatting is wrong only in the preview, the final view picks up the syntax from the tags. Jan 24, 2011 at 21:07
  • Why no one mention this f.e. uname -rv | grep -i "name_of_distro" and use exit code?
    – fugitive
    Feb 6, 2017 at 14:21
  • $ awk -F= '$1 ~ /ID|VERSION_ID/ {print $2;}' /etc/os-release; or awk -F= '$1 ~ /DISTRIB_ID|DISTRIB_RELEASE/ {print $2;}' /etc/lsb-release
    – Marslo
    Aug 11, 2021 at 13:35

20 Answers 20

247

To get OS and VER, the latest standard seems to be /etc/os-release. Before that, there was lsb_release and /etc/lsb-release. Before that, you had to look for different files for each distribution.

Here's what I'd suggest

if [ -f /etc/os-release ]; then
    # freedesktop.org and systemd
    . /etc/os-release
    OS=$NAME
    VER=$VERSION_ID
elif type lsb_release >/dev/null 2>&1; then
    # linuxbase.org
    OS=$(lsb_release -si)
    VER=$(lsb_release -sr)
elif [ -f /etc/lsb-release ]; then
    # For some versions of Debian/Ubuntu without lsb_release command
    . /etc/lsb-release
    OS=$DISTRIB_ID
    VER=$DISTRIB_RELEASE
elif [ -f /etc/debian_version ]; then
    # Older Debian/Ubuntu/etc.
    OS=Debian
    VER=$(cat /etc/debian_version)
elif [ -f /etc/SuSe-release ]; then
    # Older SuSE/etc.
    ...
elif [ -f /etc/redhat-release ]; then
    # Older Red Hat, CentOS, etc.
    ...
else
    # Fall back to uname, e.g. "Linux <version>", also works for BSD, etc.
    OS=$(uname -s)
    VER=$(uname -r)
fi

I think uname to get ARCH is still the best way. But the example you gave obviously only handles Intel systems. I'd either call it BITS like this:

case $(uname -m) in
x86_64)
    BITS=64
    ;;
i*86)
    BITS=32
    ;;
*)
    BITS=?
    ;;
esac

Or change ARCH to be the more common, yet unambiguous versions: x86 and x64 or similar:

case $(uname -m) in
x86_64)
    ARCH=x64  # or AMD64 or Intel64 or whatever
    ;;
i*86)
    ARCH=x86  # or IA32 or Intel32 or whatever
    ;;
*)
    # leave ARCH as-is
    ;;
esac

but of course that's up to you.

25
  • 2
    I would check for lsb_release and use it if available, but it isn't available everywhere. For instance, it isn't in the default install of Fedora 14.
    – Steven D
    Jan 24, 2011 at 5:47
  • Really? Did you try spelling it with - and _? Maybe it's in /lib/lsb or somewhere like that. What does rpm -qa "lsb*" print?
    – Mikel
    Jan 24, 2011 at 5:56
  • 1
    rpm -qa "lsb* prints nothing. According to yum provides */lsb_release it is contained in a package called redhat-lsb which I guess is not installed by default. However, I'm not a Fedora expert, these are just the results from a random Fedora VM I have and could be very wrong.
    – Steven D
    Jan 24, 2011 at 6:01
  • 3
    Just installed Fedora 14 in a VM, and there is no lsb-release, as you said.
    – Mikel
    Jan 24, 2011 at 6:07
  • 7
    Don't use $OS, $VERSION, etc -- by convention, we capitalize environment variables (PAGER, EDITOR, SHELL, ...) and internal shell variables (BASH_VERSION, RANDOM, ...). All other variable names should contain at least one lowercase letter. This convention avoids accidentally overriding environmental and internal variables.
    – Chris Down
    Sep 16, 2011 at 20:18
69

I'd go with this as a first step:

ls /etc/*release

Gentoo, RedHat, Arch & SuSE have a file called e.g. /etc/gentoo-release. Seems to be popular, check this site about release-files.

Debian & Ubuntu should have a /etc/lsb-release which contains release info also, and will show up with the previous command.

Another quick one is uname -rv. If the kernel installed is the stock distro kernel, you'll usually sometimes find the name in there.

9
  • On Debian, that's uname -a.
    – tshepang
    Mar 29, 2011 at 20:31
  • 3
    doesn't uname -rv contain the info though? uname -a will print things like type of processor and hostname that are irrelevant here. (But both kernel release (-r) and version (-v) are necessary, not all distros do it the same there)
    – Mat
    Mar 29, 2011 at 20:34
  • uname -r gives 2.6.32-5-686-bigmem and uname -v gives #1 SMP Tue Mar 8 22:14:55 UTC 2011 on Debian 6. uname -a OTOH gives Linux debian 2.6.32-5-686-bigmem #1 SMP Tue Mar 8 22:14:55 UTC 2011 i686 GNU/Linux.
    – tshepang
    Mar 29, 2011 at 22:22
  • the second part of uname -a is -n, i.e. nodename == hostname. so I'd say uname will not be interesting on Debian. Come to think of it, I'm not sure it is so useful on RedHat either.
    – Mat
    Mar 29, 2011 at 22:26
  • Oh, ok. So it's just by luck that I set my hostname as default, debian.
    – tshepang
    Mar 29, 2011 at 22:29
41

lsb_release -a. Works on Debian and I guess Ubuntu, but I'm not sure about the rest. Normally it should exist in all GNU/Linux distributions since it is LSB (Linux Standard Base) related.

5
  • 3
    It's not installed by default on Gentoo. It wasn't by default on Fedora either at some point (probably is now though)
    – Mat
    Mar 29, 2011 at 19:13
  • 2
    This worked on Debian squeeze, Fedora 14, and OpenSUSE 11.3. On Debian and SUSE the package containing lsb_release was lsb-release, on Fedora it was redhat-lsb. It was already installed on Debian and SUSE, but not on Fedora. I think this is the best answer so far. +1. Mar 29, 2011 at 20:09
  • 3
    lsb_release is not part of the CentOS 6 minimal install.
    – a coder
    Oct 8, 2013 at 15:30
  • 1
    lsb_release -a returns "-bash: lsb_release: command not found" on Raspberry with Raspbian (Debian 7.1 derived). Jun 5, 2014 at 11:32
  • lsb_release -a works on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 6.6 (Santiago)
    – jwilleke
    Jan 28, 2015 at 13:56
36

One-liner, fallbacks, one line of output, no errors.

( lsb_release -ds || cat /etc/*release || uname -om ) 2>/dev/null | head -n1
2
  • Beautiful, thank you. Note this still doesn't work on Mac OS X, but it works fine on Ubuntu and CentOS (which are the three I have handy).
    – Wildcard
    Dec 23, 2015 at 3:32
  • 2
    Brilliant! Why such a bueatiful answer not on the top?
    – Neo
    Mar 28, 2017 at 2:08
18
python -m platform

sample outputs:

Ubuntu:

Linux-4.9.184-linuxkit-x86_64-with-Ubuntu-18.04-bionic

Debian:

Linux-4.14.117-grsec-grsec+-x86_64-with-debian-buster-sid

Centos:

Linux-3.10.0-957.1.3.el7.x86_64-x86_64-with-centos-7.6.1810-Core

Mac OS X:

Darwin-17.7.0-x86_64-i386-64bit

See platform module docs if you need a specific value from that line. For example, if you need the Linux distro name only, use

python -c "import platform;print(platform.linux_distribution()[0])"
3
  • @ThiefMaster Here are a few sample outputs of the command: * Linux-3.10.0-957.1.3.el7.x86_64-x86_64-with-centos-7.6.1810-Core * Linux-4.14.117-grsec-grsec+-x86_64-with-debian-buster-sid Is there anything that is not clear about the linux distribution here? Jan 7, 2020 at 15:06
  • OK, so on those distros it contains some information. In any case, it's arbitrary text and thus not really useful to use in scripts... on Gentoo I have this for example: inux-4.19.86-gentoo-x86_64-Intel-R-_Core-TM-_i5-8259U_CPU_@_2.30GHz-with-glibc2.4 Jan 7, 2020 at 17:35
  • @ThiefMaster Updated the original answer on how to get the specific value instead of arbitrary text. Jan 8, 2020 at 20:34
8
  1. lsb-* isn't installed/doesn't exist on base CentOS or Debian systems
  2. /proc/* doesn't exist on OSX

Take a tip from JavaScript developers: Don't test for the version, but for the capability. It's not pretty, but it works. Expand as necessary.

function os_type {
case `uname` in
  Linux )
     LINUX=1
     which yum && { echo "CentOS"; return; }
     which zypper && { echo "openSUSE"; return; }
     which apt-get && { echo "Debian"; return; }
     ;;
  Darwin )
     DARWIN=1
     ;;
  * )
     # Handle AmigaOS, CPM, and modified cable modems.
     ;;
esac
}
5
  • 7
    Yum could very well be Red Hat, Scientific Linux, or Fedora. There was an apt command for Fedora mimiking Debian's. And so on. Just clasifying anything with yum as CentOS gives you a range of supported systems from Red Hat 4 to Fedora 18, that is some 8 years of Linux history right there. If you need to know if <foo> is supported, specifically check for <foo> instead of guessing based on (unreliable) distribution identification! Sure, it leads to something of the ilk of autotools, but that can't be helped (just thank $DEITY that the Unix wars are over).
    – vonbrand
    Jan 18, 2013 at 3:21
  • @vonbrand indeed, it is as you say. i don't attempt to differentiate between sub-flavours. and the order i check in (hopefully) removes most tricky situations (RHEL with apt-get installed), although i didn't do a lot of research. if RHEL can have apt-get installed, and Ubuntu users have yum... well, you're just bang out of luck. Jan 22, 2013 at 2:40
  • apt-get is also used by altlinux on rpm bazis, so this is the false answer Mar 10, 2021 at 7:51
  • 1
    @МалъСкрылевъ I think my general point was: if you are only identifying the operating system in order to determine which package manager to run, then just check for the package manager. That's the "JavaScript" test-for-feature concept. FWIW, I have apt-get running here under cygwin (apt-cyg renamed). I should add that there entire concept of "test-for-feature" has worked for decades with configure and to an extent the more recent cmake build systems. Mar 10, 2021 at 11:12
  • well of example when I run the script on my linux it will return "debian" what is wrong, please note it on our post Mar 10, 2021 at 18:16
6

In order of most probable success, these:

cat /etc/*version
cat /proc/version #linprocfs/version for FreeBSD when "linux" enabled
cat /etc/*release
uname -rv

cover most cases (AFAIK): Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, Suse, Redhat, Gentoo, *BSD and perhaps others.

2
  • cat /etc/*version does not work (there is no such file) on CentOS (at least on 6.4)
    – om-nom-nom
    Oct 23, 2013 at 12:32
  • If you run the command in a container, /proc/version will contain the HOST distribution version, and not the container distribution one.
    – Dereckson
    Mar 24, 2015 at 20:14
6

For most modern Linux OS systems, the file /etc/os-release is really becoming standard and is getting included in most OS. So inside your Bash script you can just include the file, and you will have access to all variables described here (for example: NAME, VERSION, ...)

So I'm just using this in my Bash script:

if [ -f /etc/os-release ]
then
        . /etc/os-release
else
        echo "ERROR: I need the file /etc/os-release to determine what my distribution is..."
        # If you want, you can include older or distribution specific files here...
        exit
fi
1
3

If the file /etc/debian_version exists, the distribution is Debian, or a Debian derivative. This file may have a release number; on my machine it is currently 6.0.1. If it is testing or unstable, it may say testing/unstable, or it may have the number of the upcoming release. My impression is that on Ubuntu at least, this file is always testing/unstable, and that they don't put the release number in it, but someone can correct me if I am wrong.

Fedora (recent releases at least), have a similar file, namely /etc/fedora-release.

4
  • Newer Debian versions use /etc/os-release instead.
    – Dereckson
    Mar 24, 2015 at 20:14
  • 1
    @Dereckson I checked my wheezy machine, and it has both /etc/debian_version and /etc/os-release. Mar 24, 2015 at 20:17
  • Tested in a Jessie chroot created with debootstrap. But indeed, a local machine also under Jessie, this time installed a more conventional way, contains a /etc/debian_version file. So the way we prepare a Debian installation could affect the available release files, that's interesting.
    – Dereckson
    Mar 28, 2015 at 10:05
  • Debian's os-release does not include the full version number from debian_version. See unix.stackexchange.com/questions/382531 .
    – JdeBP
    Jul 29, 2017 at 7:08
2

If you can't or don't want to use the LSB release file (due to the dependencies the package brings in), you can look for the distro-specific release files. Bcfg2 has a probe for the distro you might be able to use: http://trac.mcs.anl.gov/projects/bcfg2/browser/doc/server/plugins/probes/group.txt.

1

2 ways from many:

1) use

lsb_release -a

I tested it on CentOS 5.5 and Ubuntu 10.04

the output for CentOS is:

LSB Version:    :core-3.1-ia32:core-3.1-noarch:graphics-3.1-ia32:graphics-3.1-noarch 
Distributor ID: CentOS
Description:    CentOS release 5.5 (Final)
Release:        5.5
Codename:       Final

and for Ubuntu is:

LSB Version:    :core-3.1-ia32:core-3.1-noarch:graphics-3.1-ia32:graphics-3.1-noarch
Distributor ID: CentOS
Description:    CentOS release 5.5 (Final)
Release:        5.5
Codename:       Final

2) enter the following command:

cat /etc/*-release

I tested it on CentOS 5.5 and Ubuntu 10.04, and it works fine.

3
  • lsb_release is not in CentOS 6 (the min install fwiw)
    – a coder
    Oct 8, 2013 at 15:34
  • lsb_release -a returns "-bash: lsb_release: command not found" on Raspberry with Raspbian (Debian 7.1 derived). Jun 5, 2014 at 11:34
  • Under Centos 7, you need the redhat-lsb-core package from EPEL installed, because why bother installing the "Linux Standard Base Core" package by default? Apparently you need the lsb-release package installed under Debian and derivatives.
    – Ben Stern
    May 29, 2020 at 1:11
0

This script works on Debian, (may need some tweak on Ubuntu)

#!/usr/bin/env bash

echo "Finding Debian/ Ubuntu Codename..."

CODENAME=`cat /etc/*-release | grep "VERSION="`
CODENAME=${CODENAME##*\(}
CODENAME=${CODENAME%%\)*}

echo "$CODENAME"
# => saucy, precise, lucid, wheezy, squeeze
0

I find a good script from here which works for most of common linux dists:

#! /bin/bash
# return an awkable string consisting of
#    unix OS type, or
#    Linux dist, or
#    a long guess (based on /proc), or
#    no clue

giveUp () {
   echo "Unknown"
   exit 0
}

# keep this easily awkable, prepending an initial clue
versionGuess () {
   if [ -e /proc/version ]; then
      echo -n "Unsure "
      cat /proc/version
      exit 0
   fi
   return 1
}

# if we have ignition, print and exit
gotDist () {
   [ -n "$1" ] && echo "$1" && exit 0
}

# we are only interested in a single word "dist" here
# various malformations can occur; admin will have to code appropately based on output
linuxRelease () {
   if [ -r /etc/lsb-release ]; then
      dist=$(grep 'DISTRIB_ID' /etc/lsb-release | sed 's/DISTRIB_ID=//' | head -1)
      gotDist "$dist"
   fi

   dist=$(find /etc/ -maxdepth 1 -name '*release' 2> /dev/null | sed 's/\/etc\///' | sed 's/-release//' | head -1)
   gotDist "$dist"

   dist=$(find /etc/ -maxdepth 1 -name '*version' 2> /dev/null | sed 's/\/etc\///' | sed 's/-version//' | head -1)
   gotDist "$dist"

   return 1
}

# start with uname and branch the decision from there
dist=$(uname -s 2> /dev/null)
if [ "$dist" = "Linux" ]; then
   linuxRelease
   versionGuess
   giveUp
elif [ -n "$dist" ]; then
   echo "$dist"
   exit 0
else
   versionGuess
   giveUp
fi

# we shouldn't get here
giveUp
# done
0

Some distros use *-issue files, some use *-version, some use *-release, or any combination of those 3 variations. Dirty and dirty way :

[root@radio ~]# for file in /etc/{*issue*,*version*,*release*}; do [[ -f $file ]] || continue; echo -- $file; cat $file; done;
-- /etc/issue
\S
Kernel \r on an \m

-- /etc/issue.net
\S
Kernel \r on an \m
-- /etc/centos-release
CentOS Linux release 7.9.2009 (Core)
-- /etc/centos-release-upstream
Derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.8 (Source)
-- /etc/os-release
NAME="CentOS Linux"
VERSION="7 (Core)"
ID="centos"
ID_LIKE="rhel fedora"
VERSION_ID="7"
PRETTY_NAME="CentOS Linux 7 (Core)"
ANSI_COLOR="0;31"
CPE_NAME="cpe:/o:centos:centos:7"
HOME_URL="https://www.centos.org/"
BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.centos.org/"

CENTOS_MANTISBT_PROJECT="CentOS-7"
CENTOS_MANTISBT_PROJECT_VERSION="7"
REDHAT_SUPPORT_PRODUCT="centos"
REDHAT_SUPPORT_PRODUCT_VERSION="7"

-- /etc/redhat-release
CentOS Linux release 7.9.2009 (Core)
-- /etc/system-release
CentOS Linux release 7.9.2009 (Core)
-- /etc/system-release-cpe
cpe:/o:centos:centos:7
[root@radio ~]#
-1

Here is my simple chech_distro version. ^^;

#!/usr/bin/env bash
check_distro2(){
    if [[ -e /etc/redhat-release ]]
    then
      DISTRO=$(cat /etc/redhat-release)
    elif [[ -e /usr/bin/lsb_release ]]
    then
      DISTRO=$(lsb_release -d | awk -F ':' '{print $2}')
    elif [[ -e /etc/issue ]]
    then
      DISTRO=$(cat /etc/issue)
    else
      DISTRO=$(cat /proc/version)
    fi
    }

    check_distro2
    echo $DISTRO
-1

Without version, just only dist:

cat /etc/issue | head -n +1 | awk '{print $1}'
1
  • 1
    An answer from a year earlier by Yahya Yahyaoui said the same thing. Both of these answers were in fact addressed in 2011 in answers that have since been deleted. The reasons that they are wrong still apply.
    – JdeBP
    Jul 29, 2017 at 6:56
-1

This was tested on Ubuntu 14 and CentOS 7

cat /etc/os-release | grep "PRETTY_NAME" | sed 's/PRETTY_NAME=//g' | sed 's/["]//g' | awk '{print $1}'
3
  • @don_crissti How would you do it?
    – BsdHelper
    Nov 23, 2015 at 1:18
  • sed -n -e '/PRETTY_NAME/ s/^.*=\|"\| .*//gp' /etc/os-release
    – cas
    Nov 23, 2015 at 1:41
  • @cas Very nice! Adding that to my toolbox. Thank you for sharing.
    – BsdHelper
    Nov 24, 2015 at 6:35
-1

If somebody needs the distro as well:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

LINUX_VERSION_NAME=`lsb_release -sr`


# Distribution specific installation
if [[ ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME} == "18.04" ]]
then
    echo "It is: ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME}"

else
    echo "It is not ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME}"
fi

Output:

It is: 18.04

Change to: lsb_release -sc to get the distro:

LINUX_VERSION_NAME=`lsb_release -sc`


# Distribution specific installation
if [[ ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME} == "bionic" ]]
then
    echo "It is: ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME}"

else
    echo "It is not ${LINUX_VERSION_NAME}"
fi

Output:

It is: bionic
1
  • Won't your output of the first example be wrong, if you are not on 18.04 for a server that has does have the lsb_release command in the $PATH? Jun 14, 2021 at 19:52
-1

Since the question doesn't specify restriction to /bin/sh etc, there is the solution with ruby shell interpreter.

There is a facter ruby gem, which gives you some facts about os OS, it analyzes OS release files, other data and prints to terminal screen. You can try is as follows, begining with rubygems installation:

# apt-get install ruby rubygems

Please use the case above that is eligible for your OS. Then install the gem itself.

# gem install facter

Then use:

$ facter

NOTE: See the facter gem sources to get more info in installation.

7
  • downvers argue? Sep 14, 2020 at 11:35
  • maybe because it requires ruby. I think we want only logic for /bin/sh
    – airtonix
    Oct 8, 2020 at 22:34
  • @airtonix and where is the resitriction to "sh" in the question? Oct 9, 2020 at 21:46
  • @МалъСкрылевъ it's implied by the tag shell-script. Not that I'm downvoting, mind
    – roaima
    Nov 6, 2020 at 22:57
  • 1
    @МалъСкрылевъ should be obvious? you want a general function to return the platform name and so forth... but you choose to implement it in a way where it's useless on most platforms? Typically this operation is performed before installing anything else. so that means you have to work with /bin/sh
    – airtonix
    Feb 27, 2021 at 3:55
-4

This command works for Debian based and Redhat based distributions: Using tr filter, you convert the document to one-word-per-line format and then count the first line which contains the distribution name.

tr -s ' \011' '\012' < /etc/issue | head -n 1
1
  • The comments on the now-deleted answer from 2011 that said the same thing, still apply. As does the mis-placed answer, again now deleted, that said that /etc/issue did not contain a version or a name on zenwalk. This is an administrator-modifiable file containing a message presented to humans that has no guarantees of containing anything that can be pulled out programatically.
    – JdeBP
    Jul 29, 2017 at 6:54

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