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If I want to know the version of awk I get the following:

$ awk --version
awk: not an option: --version

Checking in man awk I see that my awk is

mawk - pattern scanning and text processing language

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Thanks for the downvotes. Any comments about it? I guessed it can be useful for people facing the same issue, so I both posted the question and the answer. – fedorqui Sep 18 '13 at 9:40
Did you just answer your own question saying that made up command line arguments don't work? And you just need to use a valid argument? – 50-3 Sep 18 '13 at 9:55
As you can know, --version is an almost standard command. Hence, I think it is good to show the alternative to it. – fedorqui Sep 18 '13 at 10:02
Really? I've never once used it. Not sure it's as standard as you think it is. – 50-3 Sep 18 '13 at 10:06
Believe me it is, check man of different commands and you will find it: cp, rm, man, bash and so on. – fedorqui Sep 18 '13 at 10:10

I try to be more general.

awk -Wversion 2>/dev/null || awk --version

works whether awk invokes mawk, gawk or original-awk available for Debian/Ubuntu Linux. Note that -W and version have to be concatenated so that original-awk does not think version is a program. In Ubuntu Linux you can use sudo update-alternatives --config awk to see and to choose the implementation that is invoked by the command awk.

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I don't know how standard it is to accept the concatenated option, but it is not necessary use it in my experience: awk -W version </dev/null 2>/dev/null|awk '{print $0;nz=1}END{if(!nz)exit 1}' || awk --version or alternatively (s=$(awk -W version </dev/null 2>/dev/null); if [ -n "$s" ]; then printf "$s\n"; else awk --version; fi) – jarno Sep 5 '15 at 16:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In this case, man awk shows us:

-W version

mawk writes its version and copyright to stdout and compiled limits to stderr and exits 0.

In my case,

$ awk -W version
mawk 1.3.3 Nov 1996, Copyright (C) Michael D. Brennan

compiled limits:
max NF             32767
sprintf buffer      2040
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