[conspire] Ubuntu Unable to process updates

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Feb 29 17:49:58 PST 2008

Quoting K Sandoval (indigo.kai at gmail.com):

> student at student-desktop:~$ ls -l /var/cache/apt/lists
> results:
> ls: /var/cache/apt/lists: No such file or directory

> student at student-desktop:~$ ls -l /var/lib/dpkg/available
> results:
> -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1095312 2008-02-28 21:38 /var/lib/dpkg/available

Well, that actually tells us quite a bit.  The first of those tells us
that Ubuntu doesn't have a current set of package catalogues from the
package repositories.  (However, please note further on, where I realise
that "update-manager" just might not use /var/cache/apt/lists/ .)

This is /var/cache/apt/lists on my Xubuntu 7.10 ("Gutsy Gibbon") laptop:

ck at nextstep:/var/lib/apt/lists$ ls -l *Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   123131 2008-02-12 23:33 archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-backports_main_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    20631 2008-02-12 23:34 archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-backports_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root        0 2008-02-12 23:33 archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-backports_restricted_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   395155 2008-02-12 23:34 archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-backports_universe_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root     7395 2008-02-12 06:47 security.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_edgy-security_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   394482 2008-02-12 08:45 security.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-security_main_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root     8660 2008-02-12 08:45 security.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-security_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root        0 2008-02-12 08:45 security.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-security_restricted_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   198357 2008-02-12 08:45 security.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-security_universe_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   466601 2006-10-25 10:05 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_edgy_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    35302 2008-02-12 10:50 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_edgy-updates_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  6564852 2007-10-18 04:23 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy_main_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   637829 2007-10-18 04:24 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy_multiverse_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    14154 2007-10-18 04:23 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy_restricted_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 18932027 2007-10-18 04:24 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy_universe_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  1029455 2008-02-12 10:49 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-updates_main_binary-powerpc_Packages
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root     3932 2008-02-12 10:49 us.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_gutsy-updates_restricted_binary-powerpc_Packages

(There are some other housekeeping and related files in that directory:
I asked for just the files whose names ended in "Packages", which are
the catalogues themselves.)

On _my_ *buntu and Debian systems, one fetches new catalogues from the
various repositories listed in /etc/apt/sources.list using this command
(using "sudo" rather than direct use of root authority on *buntu):

#  apt-get update

or equivalently:

# aptitude update

That operation fetches "*Packages" file (and corresponding *Release and
*Release.gpg files) from the repositories.  

Your package-handling toolset then merges all of the *Packages files
down to a single, alphabetised catalogue file, which is
/var/lib/dpkg/available .  (I vaguely recall this; my explanation might
be slightly off.)  There is also a hashed binary version of that data
stored somewhere that I cannot quite recall.

The /var/lib/dpkg/status file is pretty vital:  It's the system's record
of what packages it knows to be _installed_ on your system.  (Again, I
vaguely recall that there's a hashed binary version of that file
somewhere, for greater speed of package operations.)

So, cutting to the chase, you appear to have nothing severely wrong (and
aren't out of disk space).  You appear to have merely not fetched
package catalogues.  So, update-manager is basically saying "Hey, I
can't fetch / update packages, because I don't have catalogues."

Of course, I'm merely _assuming_ that update-manager uses
/var/cache/apt/lists/*Packages files.  Maybe it doesn't -- and puts
files somewhere else.  (You could do "sudo apt-get update".  It couldn't
hurt, but might not help.)

Since I don't _have_ "update-manager" (nor GNOME, nor Ubuntu), I can't
lead you through assisting you with it.  But maybe someone else here
can.  Basically, someone else who uses that tool would be better to take
over from here.

Or, you could switch to apt-get.  ;->

(In the unlikely event of your wanting to maintain your system the way
an old-fogy Debian user would, see "Gradual Upgrade" on
http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Debian .  The only real Ubuntu-vs.-Debian
difference would be the names of branches, and your use of sudo .)

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