How to Verify SHA-256 Checksum File in Linux

Verify SHA-256 Checksum File in Linux

Ensuring the integrity of files is crucial for any Linux system administrator or user. When you download an ISO image, software package, or any other important file in Linux, how do you ensure that the file you received matches the original file, and has not been corrupted or tampered with during download? This is where checksums come in.

A checksum is a cryptographic hash value that acts like a digital fingerprint for a file. It is generated based on the content of the file using a cryptographic hashing algorithm. One of the most widely used checksum algorithms today is SHA256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256-bit). By comparing the SHA256 checksum of your downloaded file to the checksum provided for the original file, you can easily verify that your copy is intact and matches the original.

Understanding SHA256 Checksum

SHA256, or Secure Hash Algorithm 256, is a member of the SHA-2 family of cryptographic hash functions. It generates a unique 256-bit (32-byte) hash value for each input file, regardless of its size. This hash value is a unique identifier for the file, and even a minor change in the file will result in a drastically different hash. This makes SHA256 an essential tool for verifying file integrity and authenticity.

Here is an example of a SHA256 checksum:


Even a small change in the source file will cause a huge difference in the hash value. This makes SHA256 excellent for detecting accidental or malicious modifications to a file.

Generating a SHA256 Checksum in Linux

Most Linux distributions come pre-installed with the sha256sum utility to compute SHA256 hashes. Here are the step-by-step instructions to generate a checksum for a file:

  1. Open the terminal application if you haven’t already.
  2. Navigate to the directory containing the file for which you want to generate the checksum. For example:
cd Downloads
  1. Type the following command to generate the SHA256 checksum. Replace filename with your actual file name:
sha256sum filename
  1. The command will display the filename and calculated SHA256 checksum separated by two spaces:
6aae7feee5a5f4f0f2f9960714c3afca0944bca06d4e96f4f79e65e30b548136  filename
  1. You can redirect the output to a file to save the checksum for later verification:
sha256sum filename > filename.sha256
  1. Verify the saved file contains the filename and checksum:
cat filename.sha256

In case you want to generate hashes for multiple files together, you can provide the file names as arguments:

sha256sum file1 file2 file3 > checksums.txt

Verifying a SHA256 Checksum in Linux

Once you have the official SHA256 checksum for your downloaded file (perhaps provided on the download page or in a separate SUM file), you can easily confirm the integrity of your copy by comparing the two checksum values. Follow these instructions to verify a SHA256 checksum on Linux:

  1. Generate the SHA256 checksum of your downloaded file using the steps outlined in the previous section.
  2. Obtain the official checksum for your file. This is usually available on the download website.
  3. Compare the two checksums (yours and official) to see if they match.
  4. If your locally computed checksum matches the official one, the file contents are intact. However, if there is a mismatch, your file is corrupt or has been tampered with:
sha256sum filename

6aae7feee5a5f4f0f2f9960714c3afca0944bca06d4e96f4f79e65e30b548136 filename

Official checksum = 6aae7feee5a5f4f0f2f9960714c3afca0944bca06d4e96f4f79e65e30b548136

Checksums match, file integrity verified!

You can also automate checksum verification for multiple files at once:

  1. Save the official checksums to a file (e.g. official-checksums.txt)
  2. Generate your checksums and output to a separate file (e.g. my-checksums.txt)
  3. Use diff to compare both files:
diff official-checksums.txt my-checksums.txt
  1. If there is no output from diff, it means the checksums match and your files are intact.
  2. Any differing line(s) indicates mismatched checksums for corrupt or modified files.

That’s all there is to it! Whenever you download an important file in Linux, be sure to verify its SHA256 checksum to ensure integrity.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

While generating and verifying SHA256 checksums is generally straightforward, you may encounter some issues. Here are a few common problems and their solutions:

  • Command not found:

If the terminal returns a “command not found” error when you try to use sha256sum, it means the command isn’t installed on your system. On most Linux distributions, you can install it using the package manager. For example, on Ubuntu and CentOS, you would use:

sudo apt install coreutils #Debian/Ubuntu
sudo dnf install coreutils #RHEL/CentOS 
  • No such file or directory:

This error means the terminal can’t find the file you’re trying to generate a checksum for. Make sure you’re in the correct directory and that the filename is spelled correctly.

  • Checksums do not match:

If the original checksum and the one you generated don’t match, it means the file has been altered. It’s recommended not to use the file, as it may have been tampered with.


Verifying downloaded files using SHA256 checksum is one of the best practices recommended for Linux administrators and power users concerned about security. The SHA256 algorithm provides strong cryptographic protection against accidental errors as well as malicious attacks.

With the simple yet powerful sha256sum tool, checking file integrity takes just a few easy commands on the Linux terminal. Just remember to independently compute the hash instead of solely relying on checksums provided by others. Stay vigilant against corrupt or trojan downloads by taking this extra verification step after each file transfer.

As Linux continues to gain traction on personal computers and enterprise servers alike, understanding SHA256 checksums will prove even more beneficial for anyone handling sensitive or critical data. So integrate this file verification technique into your workflow today!


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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