How to get in a Bash script the simple lowercase name of the current Debian or Ubuntu release, e.g. stretch, jessie, xenial, artful?

1 Answer 1


It's available in /etc/os-release, but it's inconsistent between Ubuntu and Debian. Documentation isn't very specific on how to use it.

. /etc/os-release
if [ -z "$NAME" ]; then
    NAME=$(echo $VERSION | sed -rn 's|.+\((.+)\).+|\1|p')

It's also available in the command lsb_release, which, when installed, needs no parsing:

NAME=$(lsb_release --codename --short)

Finally, it can be obtained directly from the sources file with some heavy-ish parsing.

NAME=$(sed -rn 's|^deb\s+\S+\s+(\w+)\s+main.*$|\1|p' /etc/apt/sources.list | head -n 1)
  • 3
    If you are going to use lsb_release, use the command like arguments to give you the code name, instead of grepping and slicing the output. NAME=$(lsb_release --codename --short).
    – Zoredache
    Aug 23, 2018 at 22:58

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