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How to Check Kernel Version in Linux – A Comprehensive Guide

How to Check Kernel Version in Linux – A Comprehensive Guide


If you’re a Linux user, understanding the kernel version running on your system is crucial for various reasons. The kernel serves as the core component of the operating system, responsible for managing hardware resources and providing essential functionalities. By knowing how to check the kernel version in Linux, you can ensure compatibility, troubleshoot issues, and make informed decisions regarding software installations or upgrades. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore different methods to determine the kernel version in Linux and provide you with the necessary knowledge to navigate this aspect of your system.

What is the Kernel?

Before diving into the methods of checking the kernel version, let’s briefly understand what the kernel is. In Linux, the kernel acts as the bridge between the hardware and software layers, enabling communication and coordination between the two. It is responsible for managing system resources, such as memory, processors, and input/output devices, and provides essential services to running programs.

Checking the Kernel Version via Terminal

One of the most common and straightforward ways to check the kernel version in Linux is by using the terminal. Linux distributions typically provide a terminal emulator that allows you to execute commands and access system information.

Using the ‘uname’ Command

The ‘uname’ command is a reliable and widely used method to obtain the kernel version in Linux. Simply open a terminal window and type the following command:

bashCopy codeuname -r

This command will display the kernel release version, which includes important information such as the major and minor version numbers, patch level, and architecture.

Viewing the Kernel Version in ‘/proc/version’

Another way to check the kernel version is by examining the ‘/proc/version’ file. This file provides detailed information about the kernel running on your system. To view its contents, use the following command:

bashCopy codecat /proc/version

The output will include the kernel version along with additional details such as the compiler used to build the kernel and the date of compilation.

Examining the Kernel Version in ‘dmesg’

The ‘dmesg’ command displays the kernel ring buffer, which contains various system messages, including the kernel version. Open a terminal and execute the following command:

perlCopy codedmesg | grep "Linux version"

This command filters the output to display the line containing the kernel version, making it easier to identify.

Determining the Kernel Version with ‘lsb_release’

On some Linux distributions, you can use the ‘lsb_release’ command to obtain information about the installed kernel version. Execute the following command in the terminal:

Copy codelsb_release -r

The output will include the release number, which corresponds to the kernel version.

Checking the Kernel Version in ‘sysctl’

The ‘sysctl’ command allows you to view and modify kernel parameters on a running system. While it primarily focuses on kernel configuration, it also provides information about the kernel version. Use the following command to check the kernel version:

Copy codesysctl kernel.version

The output will display the kernel version and additional information related to the kernel.

Finding the Kernel Version in ‘grub.cfg’

For Linux systems using the GRUB bootloader, you can check the kernel version by examining the ‘grub.cfg’ configuration file. This file contains the boot menu options and associated kernel parameters. To view the file’s contents, execute the following command:

bashCopy codecat /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Search for lines starting with “menuentry” or “linux” to find the kernel version information.

Using Package Management Tools

Package management tools, such as ‘dpkg’ and ‘rpm’, allow you to query installed packages on your Linux system. By leveraging these tools, you can find information about the installed kernel package and extract the corresponding version. The specific commands to use depend on your Linux distribution. Here are examples for Debian-based and Red Hat-based distributions:

  • For Debian-based distributions (e.g., Ubuntu):
arduinoCopy codedpkg -l linux-image-generic | grep ii
  • For Red Hat-based distributions (e.g., Fedora):
cssCopy coderpm -q kernel

The output will list the installed kernel packages along with their versions.

How to Check the Kernel Version in Different Linux Distributions

Different Linux distributions may have variations in the methods mentioned above. Here are a few examples of how to check the kernel version in popular distributions:

  • Ubuntu:
Copy codelsb_release -sr
  • Fedora:
bashCopy codeuname -r
  • CentOS:
cssCopy coderpm -q kernel
  • Arch Linux:
bashCopy codeuname -r

By following these distribution-specific commands, you can determine the kernel version regardless of the Linux flavor you’re using.

FAQs: How to Check Kernel Version in Linux:

What is the significance of checking the kernel version in Linux?

Checking the kernel version is essential for several reasons. It helps ensure compatibility with software and hardware drivers, allows you to identify security vulnerabilities or bug fixes addressed in newer versions, and provides information for troubleshooting system issues.

Can I upgrade the kernel version on my Linux system?

Yes, it is possible to upgrade the kernel version on a Linux system. However, it requires careful consideration and knowledge of the potential impact on system stability and compatibility. Kernel upgrades are commonly performed when new features or bug fixes are desired or when specific hardware support is required.

Is it possible to have multiple kernel versions on a Linux system?

Yes, it is possible to have multiple kernel versions on a Linux system. This allows users to select a specific kernel at boot time and switch between different versions as needed. Having multiple kernel versions can be useful for testing, troubleshooting, or maintaining compatibility with specific software or hardware configurations.

Are there any graphical tools available for checking the kernel version?

Yes, several graphical tools are available for checking the kernel version in Linux. Tools like “Hardinfo,” “Neofetch,” and system information utilities provided by desktop environments can display detailed system information, including the kernel version, in a user-friendly graphical interface.

How often is the Linux kernel updated?

The Linux kernel is actively developed and updated by a large community of developers worldwide. New kernel versions are released regularly, typically with bug fixes, security patches, and additional features. The frequency of updates depends on various factors, including the development cycle, stability, and the urgency of addressing critical issues.


In conclusion, knowing how to check the kernel version in Linux is vital for system maintenance, troubleshooting, and compatibility. This comprehensive guide has provided you with various methods to determine the kernel version using terminal commands, examining system files, package management tools, and distribution-specific techniques. By staying informed about your Linux kernel version, you can make informed decisions, ensure optimal system performance, and keep your system up to date.

Faheem Rasool

Hey everyone! My name is Faheem Rasool belong to Jacobabad, Sindh, Pakistan. I’ve been working as a blogger for the last three years and I have experience in blogging.

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