Hari's Corner

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Post-install process errors and broken packages

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted on Fri, Feb 9, 2007 at 09:47 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:00 IST)

I had a long standing problem which I solved today. For a long time, Python was broken on my system and every time I did an apt-get dist-upgrade there was a problem configuring python-2.4 and python-2.4-minimal as a result of which many applications were left unconfigured by the post-installation process.

I tried several things. At first I tried removing the old python-2.3 packages which were obsolete but remained on the system. It didn't resolve the issue. Then I tried dpkg-reconfigure from the command line. It didn't work either. I looked at the errors thrown up in the command line mode of Synaptic and then found that maybe the package spe was the problem. I removed it and then once again re-installed the python-2.4 and python-2.4-minimal package. This time it configured python correctly and reconfigured all the other broken packages.

Although the problem now appears to be solved, I'm not sure exactly where the problem lay in this instance. However, the tip here is that when there are several broken packages in a Debian installation, the core of the problem might be an underlying library or a base package which didn't get configured properly during an installation or an upgrade. It can be tricky to deal with.

However looking closely at the errors thrown up by the post-installation process in Synaptic or apt-get is definitely a good way to resolve broken packages in Debian. A long-running Debian system tends to get extremely cluttered over multiple dist-upgrades and occasionally you do get these problems. The good thing about Debian is that it's a self-healing system since the post-install process and configuration can be repeated on existing packages as many times as you wish.

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