How to Fix Broken Packages in Ubuntu

October 14, 2021


Linux packages are compressed archives containing programs and files necessary to run them. The package distribution system is designed to be robust and simplify the application installation process.

However, a bad internet connection or misconfigured third-party installers can corrupt packages and cause problems on your system.

This article will show you how to troubleshoot and fix broken packages on Ubuntu using the available APT and DPKG tools.

How to fix broken packages in Ubuntu


  • An account with sudo privileges
  • An Ubuntu system

Check for Updates

Start troubleshooting by rebuilding the list of dependencies. The --fix-missing option tells APT to ignore missing packages. The option ensures the update process is performed without APT returning an error.

sudo apt update --fix-missing
The --fix-missing option tells APT to ignore the missing packages

Force APT to Correct Missing Dependencies or Broken Packages

Missing package dependencies are a common reason for package-related errors.

1. Use apt install with the -f flag to tell APT to locate the missing packages and install them.

sudo apt install -f

APT lists the missing packages on your system.

The apt install tells APT to locate the missing packages and install them

2. Press ENTER to start the installation.

Note: If troubleshooting has led to Ubuntu needing to be reinstalled, please refer to our reinstallation guide How to Reinstall Ubuntu.

Force Reconfigure or Remove Broken Packages with DPKG

Broken packages may cause package manager configuration problems.

1. Reconfigure DPKG, the base package management system, with the following command:

sudo dpkg --configure -a

2. Check if DPKG marked some packages as needing a reinstall.

sudo dpkg -l | grep ^..R

3. If the command above returns a list of one or more packages, try removing the packages by typing:

sudo dpkg --purge --force-all [package-name]

The example below shows how to remove the corrupted vlc-plugin-base package.

Remove the corrupted vlc-plugin-base package

Warning: The dpkg --purge --force-all command removes a package even if the removal causes further dependency issues. Use the command with care.

4. After you finish troubleshooting, run the following command to clean up the system:

sudo apt clean

5. Then update the repositories again:

sudo apt update

Resolve DPKG Lock Issue

The DPKG lock error appears when trying to install a package while another process is using DPKG.

The DPKG lock error appears when trying to install a package while another process is using DPKG

However, sometimes the error occurs even if no other processes are using the package management system.

1. To fix the problem, remove the lock file manually:

sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/lock

2. Also, remove the lock in cache:

sudo rm /var/cache/apt/archives/lock

Deleting the lock enables you to use APT and DPKG again.


The article provided common ways of resolving problems caused by broken packages on Ubuntu.

For more information related to package management on Ubuntu, read:

Was this article helpful?
Marko Aleksic
Marko Aleksić is a Technical Writer at phoenixNAP. His innate curiosity regarding all things IT, combined with over a decade long background in writing, teaching and working in IT-related fields, led him to technical writing, where he has an opportunity to employ his skills and make technology less daunting to everyone.
Next you should read
How to Fix Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock Error on Ubuntu
January 4, 2024

Use the options in this guide to resolve the Ubuntu "Could not get lock…" error. This message lets you know that dpkg, the Debian Package Manager service, is unavailable.
Read more
Fix sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1) in Ubuntu
March 5, 2024

This guide will help you resolve the dpkg returned an error code (1) error. It covers several possible solutions, from straightforward solutions to more complex processes.
Read more
Snap vs APT: What's the Difference?
January 21, 2021

While repositories are convenient for many reasons, they are often an obstacle for beginners. In this comparison article, you will learn about the differences between the Snap packaging system and the APT package manager.
Read more
APT vs APT-GET: What's the Difference?
June 25, 2020

Like many other Ubuntu users, you may have wondered – What is the difference between apt-get and apt? Or perhaps – When to use apt-get and when apt? This article answers the question.
Read more