[ubuntu-uk] Stuff appearing in Terminal, I dont know what it is......

J Fernyhough j.fernyhough at gmail.com
Sun Mar 6 18:38:01 UTC 2011

On 6 March 2011 17:47, John MM <scoundrel50a at gmail.com> wrote:
> And this is supposed to help me now how? You gave me an instruction then
> dissappeared, and it looks to me that you werent even going to help, your
> just pointing out what you do to the OP. Thanks I really appreciate you
> leaving me in lurch. I would suggest that unless you are prepared to give
> help if something goes wrong, dont. It doesnt help. It causes huge amounts
> of stress. Thank you I really appreciate, I was on the verge of almost
> having to do a fresh install, because of you. Way to go.

First, chill. Second, I was replying to Grant. Third, I assumed that
you had a basic knowledge of how Ubuntu works. If you need immediate
help you should use IRC; email by its very nature is non-realtime. If
you must know I was washing my car after lunch while it was sunny.

If you look at the errors you are getting it clearly shows you have
errors in the dpkg database. You either have, or at some point had, a
sources.list entry for an old version of VirtualBox. This could be in
a couple of places, either as an entry in /etc/apt/sources.list or in
a file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ - only you will be able to find it.
If you have removed the entry then a $ sudo aptitude update should
have updated the package lists and removed references to the old files
- I assumed you had already done this and so moved on to the next
(rather more drastic) step. This I have used several times previously
to recover inconsistencies in dpkg, for example after an unexpected
shutdown. It's not nice, as I have to reinstall my packages again, but
the system stays running (and $ sudo aptitude install ubuntu-desktop
pulls in most packages anyway, the others can be pulled by a script by
looking at /usr/share/doc).

The problem with manually clearing /var/lib/dpkg is that the errors it
generates look scary, and trying to fix this via email (which is slow)
is less than ideal. Again, IRC would be better. However, seeing as the
error first showed in /var/lib/dpkg/status, removing it will narrow
down the error again. As you've posted already,
/var/lib/dpkg/available also shows the same error - again pointing to
a problem with the dpkg databases.

My suggestion is as follows - but please don't try this, as I fear it
will make you angry.

$ sudo cp /var/lib/dpkg/status-old /var/lib/dpkg/status
$ sudo cp /var/lib/dpkg/available-old /var/lib/dpkg/available

$ gksudo gedit /var/lib/dpkg/status
$ sudo nano /var/lib/dpkg/status
Find lines 46354 and 48216 and delete or edit the lines referencing
virtualbox. Do the same for /var/lib/dpkg/available.

Otherwise, look at the script here:

>  I was on the verge of almost having to do a fresh install
Tsk. The internet, eh? Maybe you should stop relying on the kindness
of strangers and pay someone for professional support?

> because of you
Your install was borked long before me, matey. Most people would have
done a quick backup and reinstalled long ago, or even done a Google
search for "/var/lib/dpkg/status" which points to solved threads on
ubuntuforums, but I guess it's a better idea to get annoyed with the


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