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So lets say I have a beta version of a program installed via PPA and want to know the version of the official version that ships with Ubuntu.

The only way I know is going to the Ubuntu package search website and searching for the package.

Is there a simple console command to do it?

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Try the below command,

apt-cache policy package-name

Example 1:

avinash@avinash-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Z500:~$ apt-cache policy firefox
firefox:
  Installed: 24.0+build1-0ubuntu1
  Candidate: 27.0.1+build1-0ubuntu0.13.10.1
  Version table:
     27.0.1+build1-0ubuntu0.13.10.1 0
        500 http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy-updates/main amd64 Packages
        500 http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy-security/main amd64 Packages
 *** 24.0+build1-0ubuntu1 0
        500 http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy/main amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

In the above example, the saucy main repository provides only the version 24.0+build1-0ubuntu1 but http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy-updates/main amd64 Packages and http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy-security/main amd64 Packages provides the latest version(27.0.1+build1-0ubuntu0.13.10.1) of firefox.

Example 2:

avinash@avinash-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Z500:~$ apt-cache policy vlc
vlc:
  Installed: 2.0.8+git20140211+r49186+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1
  Candidate: 2.0.8+git20140305+r49188+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1
  Version table:
     2.0.8+git20140305+r49188+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1 0
        500 http://ppa.launchpad.net/videolan/stable-daily/ubuntu/ saucy/main amd64 Packages
 *** 2.0.8+git20140211+r49186+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1 0
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
     2.0.8-1 0
        500 http://ubuntu.inode.at/ubuntu/ saucy/universe amd64 Packages

In this example both videolan PPA and Universe repository provides the same version of vlc.

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