Cache has broken packages, exiting

Posted on in System Administration

I've been getting the following error from cron.daily in my inbox lately:

Cache has broken packages, exiting

That's an annoying email to get everyday. I decided I would apt-get clean and that would probably fix the problem:

$ sudo apt-get clean
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
You might want to run 'apt-get -f install' to correct these.
The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 linux-server : Depends: linux-headers-server (= but is installed
E: Unmet dependencies. Try using -f.

This is an older Ubuntu server running 12.04.5 LTS. When I installed it, it created a 256 MB /boot partition. I didn't notice it until later, but that small /boot has been the bane of my existence ever since. In thise case, /boot has run out of space:

$ df -h /boot
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1       228M  225M     0 100% /boot

Using dpkg --list | grep linux-image I found 15 kernels installed! Oh my. Obviously, I don't really need more than 2 or 3, so I am going to pare that back and ensure I've gotten some space back. Be right back...

spinning hourglass

Back! OK, for the record, because the install of the newer kernel via apt-get was broken, I was unable to use apt-get remove. It was stuck trying to resolve failed dependencies and wanted me to run apt-get -f install. Obviously, that's going to fail until I clear up space. The trick was to run dpkg --purge for the older kernels to get them out of the way without getting mucked up in the apt database.

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