If you are a new Linux user and looking for help in one of the Linux forums, you may be asked this question:

Which office environment do you use?

You have an idea of what an office environment is, but how do you know which one you’re using? I’ll tell you how to find out. First of all, I will show you the command line method as it applies to all types of Linux distributions. I’ll also show you a graphical way to get this information.

Check which desktop environment you are using.

Review of the working environment

You can use the echo command under Linux to display the value of the XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP variable in the terminal.

Open the terminal and copy this command:


For example, this shows that I am using the GNOME Desktop in Ubuntu 20.04:

E-mail protected]:~$ echo $XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP

Although this command quickly tells you which desktop environment is being used, it does not provide any other information.

Knowledge of the version of the desktop environment (also called DE) can be important in some cases. Each new version of the software introduces or removes new features. GNOME 3.36 has a Don’t Disrupt option that allows you to disable all desktop notifications.

Suppose you have read this new request so as not to disrupt the function. You check if you are using GNOME, but you don’t see this option on the GNOME desktop. If you could check the version of the GNOME Desktop installed on your system, this might clarify the situation.

I will show you the commands to check the desktop environment version because you can use them on any Linux with a running desktop environment.

Where did you get versionof the desktop environment?

Unlike searching for the name of the desktop environment, it is not easy to find the version number because there is no default command or environment variable that can provide this information.

One way to get information about the Linux desktop environment is by using a tool like Screenfetch. This command line tool shows the logo of your Linux distribution in ascii format and some basic system information. The desktop version is one of them.

For Ubuntu-based distributions, you can install Screenfetch by enabling the Universe repository and then use this command:

sudo aptch screenfetch installation

For other Linux distributions you can use the package manager of your system to install this program.

After installation, all you need to do is enter a screenshot into the terminal and the desktop environment version should be displayed along with other system information.

Desktop environment Version control Desktop environment Version control

As you can see in the figure above, my system uses GNOME 3.36.1 (mainly GNOME 3.36). You can also see the Linux kernel version and other details here.

Please note that there is no guarantee that Screenfetch will display the version of the desktop environment. I checked the sources, and it contains a lot of if-else code to get version information from many sources and settings in different desktop environments. If it finds nothing in the version, it will only display the name DE.

Using the GUI to test the desktop environment

Nearly all desktop environments provide basic system information in the Settings – Startup section.

The only big problem is that most EDs are different, so I can’t show the exact steps for each of them. I’ll show it to GNOME and let you find it on your desktop.

Therefore, you need to search in the menu settings (press the Windows key and perform the search) :

Application menu settings Search application settings

Below you will find a section about the program. Click on it and you have a desktop environment with the correct version.

Audit of the Ubuntu desktop environment Audit of the Ubuntu desktop environment

As you can see, this shows that my system uses GNOME 3.36.

I hope you find this quick tip useful for beginners. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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