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How to know the version of a set of program to be installed through a meta-package?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you're contemplating installing a metapackage and you want to know what all the packages are that will be installed as a consequence, and all their versions, one of the best ways to find this out is to simulate installing the metapackage.

First, update information about what packages and versions are available. (You should do this before installing most packages, especially metapackages that may pull in a lot of other packages. So you may as well do it before your simulation, so the simulation reveals the correct information.)

sudo apt-get update

Then run the simulation. For example, suppose you're contemplating installing the kubuntu-desktop metapackage:

apt-get -s install kubuntu-desktop

Replace kubuntu-desktop with the name of the metapackage you want to install. (This actually works for any package available from any configured software source, and you can list multiple packages, separated by spaces, too.)

It looks like this (though yours will be different, in part because you have different packages already installed).

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Usually, you can find out the version number of a program by typing

program -v

or something along those lines in a terminal, or by going to Help > About if it has a GUI.

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Could you ensure that is the right command. You say "something along those lines". – hexafraction Jul 22 '12 at 20:35
@ObsessiveFOSS It's different for every program. But actually --version and -V are somewhat more common. -v often means "verbose." – Eliah Kagan Jul 22 '12 at 20:43
And if the program to install is a service like postgresql? – Marc Jul 22 '12 at 21:13
@Marc Some daemons support a version flag, and some don't. With daemons, a version flag may actually print a protocol version rather than a software version. That's what postgres -v does. The bigger problem with this answer is that, to use this method, you have to have the software installed already, whereas the OP wants to know what version would be installed by installing a not-yet-installed metapackage. – Eliah Kagan Jul 22 '12 at 22:40

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