How to check kernel version on Raspberry Pi

Every Linux system – including all Raspberry Pi models with Raspberry Pi OS installed – is running a Linux kernel, which serves as the foundation for a fully packaged operating system. As technology evolves, the Linux kernel receives updates to accommodate new hardware, features, and security patches. These updates grant the Raspberry Pi new abilities, or patch out problems that get reported and fixed with newer kernel versions.

Keeping your Linux kernel up to date is an important task for administrators and users alike. Do you know what kernel version your Raspberry Pi is running? In this tutorial, we will show you how to check the kernel version on your Raspberry Pi by using various command line utilities. Let’s see how it’s done.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to check Raspberry Pi kernel version with uname, hostnamectl, and /proc/version
How to check kernel version on Raspberry Pi
How to check kernel version on Raspberry Pi
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Raspberry Pi
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 kernel version on Raspberry Pi with uname

We can use the uname Linux command to see our Raspberry Pi’s kernel version. Open a terminal and execute the following command to see yours.

$ uname -srm
Linux 6.1.21-v8+ aarch64

The output shows us that our Raspberry Pi is running kernel version Linux 6.1.21-v8+.

Here’s what each of these numbers mean:

  • 6 – Kernel version
  • 1 – Major revision
  • 21 – Minor revision
  • v8+ – Patch number
  • aarch64 – Indicates the CPU architecture that the kernel is compiled for

How to check kernel version via hostnamectl command

Since Raspberry Pi OS relies on systemd, we can utilize the hostnamectl command to see kernel information.

$ hostnamectl
   Static hostname: raspberrypi
         Icon name: computer
        Machine ID: 6a7ee0877cd441649c7bd7a6b3e3a538
           Boot ID: f73aed7527574518ad9a9b38f5dc37bc
  Operating System: Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)
            Kernel: Linux 6.1.21-v8+
      Architecture: arm64

Or, for a more concise output:

$ hostnamectl | grep Kernel
            Kernel: Linux 6.1.21-v8+

How to check kernel version via /proc/version file

You may also view the /proc/version file, which contains kernel information.

$ cat /proc/version
Linux version 6.1.21-v8+ (dom@buildbot) (aarch64-linux-gnu-gcc-8 (Ubuntu/Linaro 8.4.0-3ubuntu1) 8.4.0, GNU ld (GNU Binutils for Ubuntu) 2.34) #1642 SMP PREEMPT Mon Apr  3 17:24:16 BST 2023

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw several commands that can be used to reveal a Raspberry Pi system’s kernel version. Is it always a good idea to keep your Raspberry Pi system completely up to date, which includes updating to the latest available kernel whenever one becomes available. For help with updating, see our other tutorial on Easy Steps to Update Your Raspberry Pi.

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