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I have root ssh/terminal access to a linux server. How do I determine which version of centos I have?

Some people suggested I run the command cat /etc/redhat-release but I got an error saying file not found.

In fact, i'm not entirely sure i'm even using CentOS. That's what some suggested it might be.

Here's a list of commands I tried that gave me no file or directory error:

cat /etc/*release*
cat /etc/*version*
cat /proc/*version*
cat /proc/*release*

Here's a list of linux commands that do not exist:

lsb_release: command not found
wget: command not found
yum: command not found
share|improve this question
@panaroik - that also gave me a no file in directory – John Sep 10 '12 at 20:25
John sorry, just moved my comment to answer :) – panaroik Sep 10 '12 at 20:26
cat /proc/version? – quanta Sep 10 '12 at 20:26
What's the output of uname -a? Many distros put their own mark in the kernel version number. RHEL-derived kernel versions tend to have the string "EL" or "el" in them. At least this can help you figure out if you're running RHEL or a derivitive. – Charles Sep 10 '12 at 20:32
up vote 0 down vote accepted

try this one to match all possibilities if there is some similar file by any chance

cat /etc/*release*
cat /etc/*version*
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both says no such file in directory – John Sep 10 '12 at 20:26
just checking, is your OS linux or unix? uname -a ? – panaroik Sep 10 '12 at 20:27
AH! got it. uname -a says this is Darwin. Ok so it's not cent os at all! – John Sep 10 '12 at 20:31
@John more generally, it's not even linux. – cjc Sep 10 '12 at 20:34

How about this:

cat /etc/issue
share|improve this answer
It says no such file in directory – John Sep 10 '12 at 20:20
lsb_release -a? – quanta Sep 10 '12 at 20:27
lsb_release command not found – John Sep 10 '12 at 20:29


# rpm -qa | grep release

...although the fact that you don't have /etc/redhat-release implies you either don't have a redhat variant, or that the installed instance has been seriously modified.

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If it's Darwin, does sw_vers give you anything useful?

Something like:

$ sw_vers
ProductName:    Mac OS X
ProductVersion: 10.8.1
BuildVersion:   12B19
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