Debian: Apt-Get Failures

I decided to play with Debian again, can’t recall why – it just seemed like a good idea at the time. So I grabbed my netinstall CD and installed Debian Etch (or Debian version 4.0). As expected, it installed without a hitch and all hardware except my PCMCIA wireless adapter was found and set up. The whole system worked fine.

At this point, it is important to note that apt (and aptitude) worked fine and had no issues installing software for me. So I opened my sources.list file and changed all instances of “etch” to “lenny” (If you need an explanation of the naming conventions go here) and ran apt-get update followed by apt-get dist-upgrade and then apt-get -f dist-upgrade and I get the following:

apt-get -y -f dist-upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded

So, I’m a bit stuck. I’ve tried adding and removing different repositories and I even tried jumping straight to Debian Sid. I tried replacing testing with lenny to see if that was it, I’ve searched and I can’t work out what’s wrong with the @”£!&%@ thing. In case I was being an idiot, and that is very possible, I checked the version number:

cat /etc/debian_version
4.0

But nope, it didn’t upgrade and not tell me.
Frankly, I’m a wee bit unhappy – using apt is one of the great things about Debian (apart from the stability and available packages) and I was looking forward to using it. As much as I like installing from source (and I do) I liked the idea of a light, lean system with a decent package manager. Debian is, after all, almost as old as Slackware and easily as revered.

If I can’t fix this I’m going back to Slackware. Currently, I am unable to install anything with apt and I can’t figure out why. At least with Slackware i knew what I was doing.

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Posted on 9 March, 2008, in Computer Stuff, Idiot's Journey, Open Source and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Can you post your sources.list file somewhere?

    Also you could use the Synaptic package manager GUI instead of apt-get command line. Also instead of using the distribution name like “etch” or “lenny” try to use the generic “testing” keyphrase which tracks the current testing distribution regardless of its version number.

    hari’s last blog post..Boxi and Panjo – Running for health

  2. Plus after you make changes to sources.list, you need to run apt-get update. 😉

    hari’s last blog post..Boxi and Panjo – Running for health

  3. Yeah, I think you definitely missed out the apt-get update step seeing your problem. I don’t think it’s an error. It’s meant to work like that. You need to get the package list first before the system recognizes updates.

    hari’s last blog post..Boxi and Panjo – Running for health

  4. So, cough it up, man. Sources.list. Bring it on!

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Stick around, he says

  5. Thanks guys, latest sources.list is below. I have been running apt-get update after making changes and have tried using testing instead of lenny and vice-versa.

    deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
    deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

    That’s the current iteration after I decided to keep it simple and build from there….

  6. So you’re still stick? Strange. Works perfectly for me.

    Try using a different mirror. They don’t recommend using the main debian.org server anyway as the load would be considerably higher on it.

    hari’s last blog post..Boxi and Panjo – Running for health

  7. That’s odd. The only differences that I see between yours and mine is that mine has a trailing slash after the URL. That shouldn’t matter.

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Stick around, he says

  8. Guys, I’ve tried around 3 or 4 different sets of mirrors – US, UK, Netherlands and France. It is very very odd and i couldn’t see that anyone else was having issues. I was looking around for instructions on reinstalling (or removing and reinstalling) apt to see if something as quietly borked.

  9. Hmm, looks as though things are badly borked:
    aptitude reinstall apt
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree... Done
    Reading extended state information
    Initializing package states... Done
    Reading task descriptions... Done
    Building tag database... Done
    The following packages will be REINSTALLED:
    apt
    0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 reinstalled, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Need to get 0B of archives. After unpacking 0B will be used.
    Writing extended state information... Error!
    E: I wasn't able to locate file for the apt package. This might mean you need to manually fix this package.
    E: Couldn't lock list directory..are you root?

    Yes, I was root when I did this.

  10. I had an error last week when accepting a particularly “system-heavy” update on Hardy (which is still alpha code, for sure), including a kernel update. I rebooted as instructed and got dropped to a pile of single user hell, as e2fsck wanted to fix my root partition (which I use EXT3 for – Reiserfs for /home) and crapped out on the repair. Many of the things that you count on in a running system weren’t functional, as I was booted into the system in single user mode. A reboot fixed it.

    Perhaps an “init 3” might get you back in business.

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Stick around, he says

  11. Tried it with no joy. I think apt is mocking me now 🙂

  12. This is what you get for cheating on Slackware Ray. 😉

  13. I know, I feel all dirty now 🙂

  14. Just re-install Debian Lenny from a newer ISO image. It should be fine.

    I know how hard it is to switch distributions.

    Slackware does this to me all the time. Never could get any hold of it no matter how hard I tried 😛

    hari’s last blog post..Visual Basic (almost) on Linux

  15. I think that what I’ll do is when I get time I’m going back. I dislike being so reliant on a tool that when it screws up I have no other alternative than to reinstall. This is very frustrating, but next time I’ll just go straight to Lenny.

  16. In Slackware you’re equally reliant on all the little scripts that Patrick writes is what I found.

    In Debian they’re just a little more complicated that’s all. And a lot more automated.

    The only way you can be totally unreliant on any third party tool is to write your own. 😉

    hari’s last blog post..Papa Hari World Government bans hyperlinks

  17. Very true Hari. Though with Slackware, once it’s installed I tend to leave scripts alone and solely rely on either slackpacks or source installs and hand edit config files.

  18. Fixed it by installing Slackware. My wireless works better (the acx111 native drivers are fantastic) and i installed gware to take advantage of the Gnome libraries so I can install KNetworkManager if I like.

  19. I had thought about solving my problems by installing Slackware, but I think that I’ll just learn a bit more about the Arch install I already have (although Ubuntu is getting to be faster and less buggy). Arch is the first distro that reminds me of the speed of Slack and FreeBSD.

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Weekends are Welcome

  20. Any Slack based distro is good 🙂

  21. I have the same problem with Etch amd64…

    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

  22. Hi Denis, welcome to the site. It was so frustrating and I couldn’t find a fix for it. So I went back to Slackware, if the worst comes to the worst I’m at least able to upgrade by hand!

  23. I like to see what other distros are up to every now and again. I know Slackware will work fine and I do distrust package managers somewhat, but I enjoy knowing that I may be proved wrong occasionally 🙂

  24. Why not just stick with Slackware? Thats what I am doing. Why try to change something if its working?

    Jasons last blog post..Give Browser Specific CSS Files With PHP

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