Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

I'm always confused to get the version of software installed in Ubuntu. To prevent from full typing to get the version like <software> --version instead I always use some thing like <software> -V.

But the problem is that not for all software it works. For some I've to use <software> -v and for some I've to use full --version to get the version.

For example

wget, gedit, nano, mysql etc all works with -V (Capital V)

but Php, Skype and may be others never worked with -V instead I've to use -v (small v) to get the version:

php -V
Usage: php [options] [-f] <file> [--] [args...]
   php [options] -r <code> [--] [args...]
   php [options] [-B <begin_code>] -R <code> [-E <end_code>] [--] [args...]
   php [options] [-B <begin_code>] -F <file> [-E <end_code>] [--] [args...]

php -v
PHP 5.3.10-1ubuntu3.9 with Suhosin-Patch (cli) (built: Dec 12 2013 04:27:25) 

Some work with both -v and -V like firefox. And some even don't work with either of -v or -V like totem , wine and google-chrome.

  • Why there is this much difference?
  • Since -V is always preferred to get the version of software, Why there is no any standard? or is there any standard that I don't know?
share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The standard is:

app --version

-v or -V is only (not generally speaking) the abbreviated form for --version. You will never see in a man page something like:

    Print version...


    Print version...

but you will see all the time these two options, the abbreviated form (if this exists) and the standard form, together. Something like:

-v, --version
    Print version...


-V, --version
    Print version...

But this depends only by developers how they want to implement their applications. For example -v is used in some cases as the abbreviated form for --verbose (see man wget), or for --invert-match (see man grep) a.o., or in other cases as stand alone (see man awk or man ps).

share|improve this answer
I'm always satisfied by your answer.. Thanks :) –  Saurav Kumar Jan 31 '14 at 10:48

Those are verbose options related to each application so some apps used the -V others use -v others both or just --version. There is no general rule for naming convention.

what i mean to say is those options don't have a standard so you may find option -X in some app do the same as -R in other ...

share|improve this answer
+1 for your time given to answer this question. But the answer which satisfied me most came from Radu Rădeanu, and you'll also agree with this. :) –  Saurav Kumar Jan 31 '14 at 10:51

It typically ends up being caused by an option called "verbosity". Verbosity runs a program and prints as much information as possible to the terminal from which it was called.

Some programs, however, don't support verbose mode or don't run in a way that would require any form of verbosity, so they will spit out the help string. Others will treat -v and -V equally.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.