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How to Check the Kernel Version in Linux

The kernel is the core component of an operating system. It manages the system’s resources and it is a bridge between your computer’s hardware and software.

There are various reasons why you might need to know exactly what kernel is running on your GNU/Linux operating system. Perhaps you’re debugging a hardware related issue or learned about a new security vulnerability affecting older kernel versions and you want to find out whether your kernel is vulnerable or not. Whatever the reason, it’s quite easy to determine the Linux kernel version from the command line.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you several different ways to find out what version of Linux kernel is running on your system.

Using uname Command

The uname command displays several system information including the Linux kernel architecture, name version, and release.

To find out what version of the Linux kernel is running on your system, type the following command:

uname -srm
Linux 4.15.0-54-generic x86_64

The output above shows that the Linux kernel is 64-bit and its version is 4.15.0-54, where:

  • 4 - Kernel Version.
  • 15 - Major Revision.
  • 0 - Minor Revision.
  • 54 - Patch number.
  • generic - Distribution specific information.

Using hostnamectl command

The hostnamectl utility is part of systemd and it is used to query and change the system hostname. It also displays the Linux distribution and kernel version:

hostnamectl
  Static hostname:  linuxize.localdomain
         Icon name: computer-laptop
           Chassis: laptop
        Machine ID: af8ce1d394b844fea8c19ea5c6a9bd09
           Boot ID: 15bc3ae7bde842f29c8d925044f232b9
  Operating System: Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS
            Kernel: Linux 4.15.0-54-generic
      Architecture: x86-64

You can use the grep command to filter out the Linux kernel version:

hostnamectl | grep -i kernel
            Kernel: Linux 4.15.0-54-generic

Using /proc/version File

The /proc directory contains virtual files with information about the system memory, CPU cores, mounted filesystems, etc. Information about the running kernel is stored in the /proc/version virtual file.

Use cat or less to display the contents of the file:

cat /proc/version

The output will look something like this:

Linux version 4.15.0-54-generic ([email protected]) (gcc version 7.4.0 (Ubuntu 7.4.0-1ubuntu1~18.04.1)) #58-Ubuntu SMP Mon Jun 24 10:55:24 UTC 2019

Conclusion

We have shown you how to find the version of the Linux kernel running on your system from the command line. The commands should work on all popular Linux Distributions including Debian, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Fedora, CentOS, Kali Linux, OpenSUSE, Linux Mint and more.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.