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apt upgrade exits with error: package pkgname contains empty filename
Wednesday - Jan 10th 2018 - by - (0 comments)

A Debian Jessie server couldn't run apt-get upgrade anymore and exited with the following error message:

root@debian ~ # apt-get upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apache2 apache2-bin apache2-data apache2-mpm-event apache2-mpm-prefork [...]
131 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 0 B/57.6 MB of archives.
After this operation, 196 kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y
Extracting templates from packages: 100%
Preconfiguring packages ...
dpkg: unrecoverable fatal error, aborting:
 files list file for package `psmisc' contains empty filename
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (2)

From this error alone, it's not very clear what failed. It requires some additional knowledge about the apt package manager. Apt retrieves information about the files of a package from the /var/lib/dkpg/info directory. Inside this path there are several files for each package. For the example for psmisc:

root@debian ~ # ls /var/lib/dpkg/info/psmisc*
psmisc.list      psmisc.md5sums   psmisc.postinst  psmisc.postrm   

psmisc.list is the above mentioned "files list file" for the package psmisc. Let's check this out:

root@debian ~ # cat /var/lib/dpkg/info/psmisc.list
????d?0bi
              ?@4
                  ??
0`??D?????????????????????????????????X<X<Zb??b|?
[...]

Woah... this can't be right! So this file is definitely corrupt. I verified with another Debian Jessie installation and the file looks different, of course:

root@jessie ~ # cat /var/lib/dpkg/info/psmisc.list
/.
/usr
/usr/share
/usr/share/menu
/usr/share/menu/psmisc
/usr/share/man
/usr/share/man/man1
/usr/share/man/man1/prtstat.1.gz
/usr/share/man/man1/peekfd.1.gz
/usr/share/man/man1/pstree.1.gz
/usr/share/man/man1/killall.1.gz
/usr/share/man/man1/fuser.1.gz
/usr/share/locale
/usr/share/locale/hr
/usr/share/locale/hr/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/hr/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/el
/usr/share/locale/el/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/el/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/fr
/usr/share/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/ca
/usr/share/locale/ca/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/ca/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/sv
/usr/share/locale/sv/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/sv/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/eo
/usr/share/locale/eo/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/eo/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/ja
/usr/share/locale/ja/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/ja/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/nb
/usr/share/locale/nb/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/nb/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/cs
/usr/share/locale/cs/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/cs/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/id
/usr/share/locale/id/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/id/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/zh_TW
/usr/share/locale/zh_TW/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/zh_TW/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/ru
/usr/share/locale/ru/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/ru/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/vi
/usr/share/locale/vi/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/vi/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/uk
/usr/share/locale/uk/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/uk/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/sr
/usr/share/locale/sr/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/sr/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/da
/usr/share/locale/da/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/da/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/pt
/usr/share/locale/pt/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/pt/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/fi
/usr/share/locale/fi/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/fi/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/ro
/usr/share/locale/ro/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/ro/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/eu
/usr/share/locale/eu/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/eu/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/hu
/usr/share/locale/hu/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/hu/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/de
/usr/share/locale/de/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/de/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/zh_CN
/usr/share/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/pt_BR
/usr/share/locale/pt_BR/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/pt_BR/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/pl
/usr/share/locale/pl/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/pl/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/nl
/usr/share/locale/nl/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/nl/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/it
/usr/share/locale/it/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/it/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/locale/bg
/usr/share/locale/bg/LC_MESSAGES
/usr/share/locale/bg/LC_MESSAGES/psmisc.mo
/usr/share/pixmaps
/usr/share/pixmaps/pstree16.xpm
/usr/share/pixmaps/pstree32.xpm
/usr/share/doc
/usr/share/doc/psmisc
/usr/share/doc/psmisc/README
/usr/share/doc/psmisc/README.Debian
/usr/share/doc/psmisc/changelog.Debian.gz
/usr/share/doc/psmisc/changelog.gz
/usr/share/doc/psmisc/copyright
/usr/bin
/usr/bin/pstree
/usr/bin/prtstat
/usr/bin/peekfd
/usr/bin/killall
/bin
/bin/fuser
/usr/share/man/man1/pstree.x11.1.gz
/usr/bin/pstree.x11

Once I replaced the corrupt file on host "debian" with the correct file from host "jessie", apt-get upgrade ran like a charm again.

 

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