How to Check OS Version on Linux And Windows?

By LightNode ·


In a world of ever-evolving technology, it's more important than ever to keep up to date with OS versions. Whether it's troubleshooting problems, ensuring software compatibility, or keeping up to date with the latest security patches, knowing how to check the OS version is an essential skill. With countless devices running on different platforms, the process of finding this information can vary widely. This article describes the steps required to determine the operating system version, covering both Linux and Windows environments. Whether you are a seasoned technical professional or a casual user, this guide will provide you with the tools you need to easily find out the OS version.

How to check OS version on Linux and Windows

How to Check Windows OS Version

Checking the version of the Windows operating system you're running can be done through several methods, depending on the level of detail you need. Here are the primary methods to find out which version of Windows you're using:

Method 1: Using the "About" Settings

  1. Open Settings: Press the Windows key + I to open Settings.
  2. Go to System: Click on "System" on the main Settings page.
  3. Open About: Scroll down and select "System Information" on the left sidebar. The right panel will display information about your device, including the Windows version, edition (like Home or Pro), and build number.

Method 2: Using the "winver" Command

  1. Open Run Dialog: Press Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type winver and Enter: Type winver into the text box and press Enter or click OK. A window will pop up showing the version of Windows you are using, including the version number, build number, and any additional information like whether it's a Windows Insider build.

Method 3: Using Command Prompt or PowerShell

  1. Open Command Prompt or PowerShell: Press the Windows key, type "cmd" or "PowerShell", and press Enter to open the Command Prompt or PowerShell.
  2. Check Version: In Command Prompt or PowerShell, type systeminfo and press Enter to get detailed system information, including the OS version. Alternatively, you can use the command ver in Command Prompt for a simpler output that includes the version.

Each of these methods will provide you with the version of Windows you are running, with varying levels of detail. For most users, the "System Information" settings page or the "winver" command provides the necessary information quickly and easily.

How to Check Linux OS Version

To check the version of a Linux operating system, you can use several commands in the terminal. These commands can provide information about the distribution name, version, and kernel version. Here are some of the most common methods:

Method 1: Using lsb_release Command

  • Command: lsb_release -a
  • Description: This command displays Linux Standard Base (LSB) information about the Linux distribution. It shows the distributor ID, description, release number, and codename.

Method 2: Using /etc/os-release File

  • Command: cat /etc/os-release
  • Description: This command displays the content of the /etc/os-release file, which includes human-readable distribution information and is present in many Linux distributions.

Method 3. Using hostnamectl Command

  • Command: hostnamectl
  • Description: Apart from showing the system hostname, hostnamectl also shows the operating system and kernel version on systemd-based systems.

Method 4. Using Distribution-Specific Files

  • Command: cat /etc/*release or cat /etc/issue
  • Description: These commands display the content of distribution-specific release files. They can provide detailed information about the version of the distribution you are using.

Method 5. Using uname Command for Kernel Information

  • Command: uname -a
  • Description: This command gives you details about the kernel version and other system information, but not the distribution version. It's useful for understanding what kernel version you're running.

These methods should cover most Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and others. The availability of certain commands might vary depending on how your system is set up and which packages are installed.

FAQs for Finding OS Version on Linux and Windows

Q: Why do I need to know my OS version?

A: Knowing your OS version is important for several reasons, including troubleshooting, determining if your system is up to date with the latest security patches, and ensuring compatibility with software or drivers you plan to install.

Q: How can I find out if my Windows version is 32-bit or 64-bit?

A: On Windows, you can find this information in the "System Information" section. Press Windows key + I to open Settings, go to System > System Information, and look under "System type." It will specify whether you're running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows.

Q: What if the lsb_release command is not available on my Linux system?

A: If lsb_release is not available, you can try viewing the contents of the /etc/os-release file by running cat /etc/os-release, or you can use cat /etc/*release or cat /etc/issue to get similar information. These files are generally available on most Linux distributions.

Q: Can I check my Windows OS version without logging in?

A: Yes, on the login screen, you can access the Command Prompt by pressing Shift + F10 (this might not work on all versions). Type cmd into the text box that appears, and then in the Command Prompt window, you can type winver and press Enter to see the OS version.

Q: How do updates affect my OS version number?

A: For both Linux and Windows, updates can change your OS version number, especially if you're installing major updates or service packs. For Windows, feature updates will change the version number, while on Linux, the distribution version number changes with new releases, and the kernel version can be updated independently.

Q: Is there a difference between the kernel version and the OS version in Linux?

A6: Yes. The OS version refers to the specific distribution release (e.g., Ubuntu 20.04 LTS), while the kernel version (found using uname -r) refers to the core of the Linux system that manages hardware, drivers, and system processes. Both provide important but different information about your system.

Q: How can I ensure my OS version is always up to date?

A: For Windows, use the Windows Update feature in the Settings app to check for and install updates automatically. For Linux, most distributions have a package manager (e.g., apt for Ubuntu, yum for Fedora) that can be used to update the system. Regularly checking for updates and applying them is recommended to keep your system secure and functioning properly.