Testing that a version string is a valid Debian version string (i.e. as accepted by wpkg) can be done with the debversion tool1.

There are two possible command lines. One to test the validity of a version and one to compare two versions against each others.

Verify a Version

Verify a version string with the first form:

debversion [-c|-p] <version>

In this case, debversion returns 0 if the version string is a valid Debian version and 1 if not.

The following command line options can be used with the first form to print out the version when valid:

  • --canonicalize (or -c) to transform the input into the shortest possible form (i.e. 1.0.0 becomes 1.0; 0:3.5.9 becomes 3.5.9; etc.)
  • --print (or -p) to print the version string as is.

Compare Versions

Compare two versions using the second form of the command line:

debversion <v1> -op <v2>

In this case the debversion tool compares v1 against v2 and returns one of:

  • 0 when v1 -op v2 is true;
  • 1 when v1 -op v2 is false;
  • 2 when one of v1 or v2 or both are not valid Debian versions;
  • 3 when -op is not a valid operator.

The valid operators are -lt (less than), -le (less or equal), -eq (equal), -ne (not equal), -ge (greater or equal) and -gt (greater.) These are the same as the test command line tool.

Inline Help

With --help/-h or no options and no version on the command line, the tool prints out a usage screen in stderr and exit with 1.


debversion 0:1.2.0-1 -eq 1.2   is true
debversion 0:1.2.0-1 -ge 1.2   is true
debversion 0:1.2.0-1 -lt 1.2   is false
debversion 1:1.2.0-1 -ne 1.2   is true
debversion -c 0:1.2.0-1        prints 1.2
debversion -c 3:1.2.5-2        prints 3:1.2.5-2

See Also

Debian Version

Version Field in Control File

  • 1. Note that the wpkg tool has command line options that are similar in functionality to what the debversion tool offers. See the --canonalize-version and --compare-versions command line documentation pages.