How To Check Linux Package Version Before Installing It

by Senthil Kumar

LXer Linux News / 2019-06-13 14:37

Most of you will know how to find the version of an installed package in Linux. But, what would you do to find the packages’ version which are not installed in the first place? No problem! This guide describes how to check Linux package version before installing it in Debian and its derivatives like Ubuntu. This small tip might be helpful for those wondering what version they would get before installing a package.

Check Linux Package Version Before Installing It

There are many ways to find a package’s version even if it is not installed already in DEB-based systems. Here I have given a few methods.

Method 1 – Using Apt

The quick and dirty way to check a package version, simply run:

   $ apt show 

Example:

   $ apt show vim   

Sample output:

   Package: vim   Version: 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1   Priority: optional   Section: editors   Origin: Ubuntu   Maintainer: Ubuntu Developers [email protected]>   Original-Maintainer: Debian Vim Maintainers [email protected]>   Bugs: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+filebug   Installed-Size: 2,852 kB   Provides: editor   Depends: vim-common (= 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1), vim-runtime (= 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1), libacl1 (>= 2.2.51-8), libc6 (>= 2.15), libgpm2 (>= 1.20.7), libpython3.6 (>= 3.6.5), libselinux1 (>= 1.32), libtinfo5 (>= 6)   Suggests: ctags, vim-doc, vim-scripts   Homepage: https://vim.sourceforge.io/   Task: cloud-image, server   Supported: 5y   Download-Size: 1,152 kB   APT-Sources: http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages   Description: Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor    Vim is an almost compatible version of the UNIX editor Vi.    .    Many new features have been added: multi level undo, syntax    highlighting, command line history, on-line help, filename    completion, block operations, folding, Unicode support, etc.    .    This package contains a version of vim compiled with a rather    standard set of features.  This package does not provide a GUI    version of Vim.  See the other vim-* packages if you need more    (or less).      N: There is 1 additional record. Please use the '-a' switch to see it   

As you can see in the above output, “apt show” command displays, many important details of the package such as,

  1. package name,
  2. version,
  3. origin (from where the vim comes from),
  4. maintainer,
  5. home page of the package,
  6. dependencies,
  7. download size,
  8. description,
  9. and many.

So, the available version of Vim package in the Ubuntu repositories is 8.0.1453. This is the version I get if I install it on my Ubuntu system.

Alternatively, use “apt policy” command if you prefer short output:

   $ apt policy vim   vim:     Installed: (none)     Candidate: 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1     Version table:        2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 500           500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages           500 http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security/main amd64 Packages        2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1 500           500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic/main amd64 Packages   

Or even shorter:

   $ apt list vim   Listing... Done   vim/bionic-updates,bionic-security 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 amd64   N: There is 1 additional version. Please use the '-a' switch to see it   

Apt is the default package manager in recent Ubuntu versions. So, this command is just enough to find the detailed information of a package. It doesn’t matter whether given package is installed or not. This command will simply list the given package’s version along with all other details.

Method 2 – Using Apt-get

To find a package version without installing it, we can use apt-get command with -s option.

   $ apt-get -s install vim   

Sample output:

   NOTE: This is only a simulation!         apt-get needs root privileges for real execution.         Keep also in mind that locking is deactivated,         so don't depend on the relevance to the real current situation!   Reading package lists... Done   Building dependency tree          Reading state information... Done   Suggested packages:     ctags vim-doc vim-scripts   The following NEW packages will be installed:     vim   0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 45 not upgraded.   Inst vim (2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates, Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-security [amd64])   Conf vim (2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates, Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-security [amd64])   

Here, -s option indicates simulation. As you can see in the output, It performs no action. Instead, It simply performs a simulation to let you know what is going to happen when you install the Vim package.

You can substitute “install” option with “upgrade” option to see what will happen when you upgrade a package.

   $ apt-get -s upgrade vim   

Method 3 – Using Aptitude

Aptitude is an ncurses and commandline-based front-end to APT package manger in Debian and its derivatives.

To find the package version with Aptitude, simply run:

   $ aptitude versions vim   p   2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1                                                              bionic                                                        500    p   2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1                                                            bionic-security,bionic-updates                                500   

You can also use simulation option (-s) to see what would happen if you install or upgrade package.

   $ aptitude -V -s install vim   The following NEW packages will be installed:     vim [2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1]     0 packages upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 45 not upgraded.   Need to get 1,152 kB of archives. After unpacking 2,852 kB will be used.   Would download/install/remove packages.   

Here, -V flag is used to display detailed information of the package version.

Similarly, just substitute “install” with “upgrade” option to see what would happen if you upgrade a package.

   $ aptitude -V -s upgrade vim   

Another way to find the non-installed package’s version using Aptitude command is:

   $ aptitude search vim -F "%c %p %d %V"   

Here,

  • -F is used to specify which format should be used to display the output,
  • %c – status of the given package (installed or not installed),
  • %p – name of the package,
  • %d – description of the package,
  • %V – version of the package.

This is helpful when you don’t know the full package name. This command will list all packages that contains the given string (i.e vim).

Here is the sample output of the above command:

   [...]   p vim                                                           Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor                                         2:8.0.1453-1ub   p vim-tlib                                                      Some vim utility functions                                               1.23-1           p vim-ultisnips                                                 snippet solution for Vim                                                 3.1-3            p vim-vimerl                                                    Erlang plugin for Vim                                                    1.4.1+git20120   p vim-vimerl-syntax                                             Erlang syntax for Vim                                                    1.4.1+git20120   p vim-vimoutliner                                               script for building an outline editor on top of Vim                      0.3.4+pristine   p vim-voom                                                      Vim two-pane outliner                                                    5.2-1            p vim-youcompleteme                                             fast, as-you-type, fuzzy-search code completion engine for Vim           0+20161219+git   

Method 4 – Using Apt-cache

Apt-cache command is used to query APT cache in Debian-based systems. It is useful for performing many operations on APT’s package cache. One fine example is we can list installed applications from a certain repository/ppa.

Not just installed applications, we can also find the version of a package even if it is not installed. For instance, the following command will find the version of Vim package:

   $ apt-cache policy vim   

Sample output:

   vim:     Installed: (none)     Candidate: 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1     Version table:        2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 500           500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages           500 http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security/main amd64 Packages        2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1 500           500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic/main amd64 Packages   

As you can see in the above output, Vim is not installed. If you wanted to install it, you would get version 8.0.1453. It also displays from which repository the vim package is coming from.

Method 5 – Using Apt-show-versions

Apt-show-versions command is used to list installed and available package versions in Debian and Debian-based systems. It also displays the list of all upgradeable packages. It is quite handy if you have a mixed stable/testing environment. For instance, if you have enabled both stable and testing repositories, you can easily find the list of applications from testing and also you can upgrade all packages in testing.

Apt-show-versions is not installed by default. You need to install it using command:

   $ sudo apt-get install apt-show-versions   

Once installed, run the following command to find the version of a package,for example Vim:

   $ apt-show-versions -a vim   vim:amd64 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1   bionic          archive.ubuntu.com   vim:amd64 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 bionic-security security.ubuntu.com   vim:amd64 2:8.0.1453-1ubuntu1.1 bionic-updates  archive.ubuntu.com   vim:amd64 not installed   

Here, -a switch prints all available versions of the given package.

If the given package is already installed, you need not to use -a option. In that case, simply run:

   $ apt-show-versions vim   

And, that’s all. If you know any other methods, please share them in the comment section below. I will check and update this guide.

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