So you inherit a box running linux and you have no idea which flavor of linux it is. How do you find out?

If all you need the kernel version you can try
uname -a

This outputs something like this

Linux localhost.localdomain 2.4.20-31.9 #1 Tue Apr 13 18:04:23 EDT 2004 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

If you need the actual distro name you can try
cat /etc/*release

In Ubuntu it shows up as

DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=9.04
DISTRIB_CODENAME=jaunty
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION=”Ubuntu 9.04″

Or even
cat /etc/issue

which spits out the following on Ubuntu

Ubuntu 9.04 \n \l

You can combine all three to get the following
uname -a && cat /etc/*release && cat /etc/issue

Update:
Another one to add to the list
cat /proc/version

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