Fixing the "Cache Has Broken Packages, Exiting" Error in Ubuntu and Debian

Posted on in system_administration

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Encountering the "cache has broken packages, exiting" error while using apt or apt-get in Ubuntu or Debian can be frustrating, but it's often fixable. This error occurs when the package manager finds inconsistencies in its internal cache, preventing it from functioning properly.

This guide will delve into various methods to address this issue and get your package management back on track:

Understanding the Error

Before diving into solutions, let's understand the potential causes:

  • Corrupted package files: Downloaded package files might be incomplete or damaged, leading to inconsistencies.
  • Outdated package lists: Using outdated information about available packages can cause conflicts.
  • Interrupted install/update: A sudden power outage or system crash during an installation or update can leave broken package configurations.
  • Conflicting software sources: Different package repositories with incompatible packages can create conflicts.


  1. Update Package Lists and Fix Broken Dependencies:

    • Start by refreshing your package lists:

      sudo apt update
    • Attempt to fix broken dependencies:

      sudo apt -f install
    • Repeat sudo apt update and sudo apt -f install iteratively until the error disappears.

  2. Clean the Package Cache:

    • Remove temporary package information:

      sudo apt clean
  3. Reconfigure Broken Packages:

    • Attempt to configure partially installed packages:

      sudo dpkg --configure -a
  4. Manually Identify and Address Issues:

    • If the above solutions fail, identify specific broken packages:

      sudo apt list --broken
    • Research solutions for identified packages online or on community forums.

    • Consider manually removing problematic packages using sudo apt remove <package_name>.
  5. Check Software Sources:

    • Review your /etc/apt/sources.list file for inconsistencies or conflicting repositories.
    • Ensure you're using sources compatible with your specific Ubuntu or Debian version.
  6. Seek Advanced Help:

    • If the issue persists, consider seeking help from online communities like Ask Ubuntu or
    • Provide detailed information about your actions, errors, and system details for accurate assistance.

Additional Tips

  • Always back up your system before making significant changes.
  • Run these commands in a terminal with administrator privileges (using sudo).
  • If unsure about any command, research it thoroughly before execution.
  • Consider using graphical package managers like Synaptic or Gnome Software Center for a more user-friendly experience.

Remember, the appropriate solution depends on the specific cause of the broken packages. By following these steps and seeking help when needed, you can effectively address the "cache has broken packages, exiting" error and restore your package management functionality in Ubuntu or Debian.

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