Check Debian Linux version

Being aware of your current Debian version will help you know when it is time to update. It’s important to know the version of your Debian Linux system, as new versions are released about every 2 years. Staying up to date will keep your system secure and ensure that you have the newest software available.

In this tutorial, you will see several methods that can be used to check the version of Debian. Keep in mind that Debian versions include a number and a code name. The code names come from the Toy Story movie series. An example would be Debian 11 Bullseye. The code names are just a fun nickname given to each release, with the version number actually being the best indicator of how old your Debian version is.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • Several methods for checking Debian version from command line and GUI
Check Debian Linux version
Check Debian Linux version
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Debian Linux
Software N/A
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

How to check Debian version



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See some of the methods below to check your Debian version. All accomplish the same task, and none require root permissions, so use whichever you find most convenient.

  1. One of the simplest ways to see your Debian version is with the hostnamectl command. This is provided by systemd, which is standard across all editions of Debian. Depending on your release, either the version or the release code name is revealed in the output.
    $ hostnamectl
    
    Checking Debian version with hostnamectl command
    Checking Debian version with hostnamectl command
  2. Another way to see this same information is by viewing the /etc/issue file.
    $ cat /etc/issue
    
    Use the cat command to check the contents of the /etc/issue file
    Use the cat command to check the contents of the /etc/issue file
  3. Another file you can check is the /etc/os-release file. This one contains both the version number and release code name.
    $ cat /etc/os-release
    




    The /etc/os-release file shows our version number and code name
    The /etc/os-release file shows our version number and code name

  4. Another way to see the version number is to execute the lsb_release command along with the -crid options.
    $ lsb_release -crid
    
    Executing the lsb_release command on Debian
    Executing the lsb_release command on Debian
  5. Lastly, there’s always a way to view the Debian version via GUI, in case you don’t like to use the command line. This is going to differ a little, depending on the desktop environment you’re using. In the GNOME desktop environment on Debian, the information is located under Settings > About.
    Checking the Debian version via GUI in GNOME settings
    Checking the Debian version via GUI in GNOME settings


Closing Thoughts

As seen in this tutorial, Debian gives us many ways to check the version of the operating system, either from command line or GUI. Knowing which version of Debian you’re on will help you determine when it’s time to update. It’s always a good idea to keep your Debian system up to date, especially for the latest security patches and system features.