Fixing broken packages in Debian systems

Stepping Outside

The Debian package manager has other front ends, notably Synaptic [5], a desktop interface. However, if apt-get, dpkg, or aptitude cannot restore full functionality, then the chances are high that neither Synaptic nor anything else can do so.

That is not to say that finding a solution is easy. Resolving broken dependencies can take hours, and the complications are so numerous that, when you do find a solution, it can feel like luck. The real solution, though, is to work systematically through the possibilities.

All the same, if you regularly find yourself in dependency hell – as broken dependencies were once called – then maybe you should consider your computing habits.

While everyone is tempted by the latest possible release and can make mistakes out of enthusiasm, by stepping outside the safety of the package management system, you are striking out on your own. An expert can do that, but to do so requires caution every step of the way. Otherwise, you may be reduced to desperate efforts such as editing a package's scripts or fiddling with /etc/apt/preferences in the faint hope of changing results that have already failed.

Some users thrive on such challenges. Many even find solutions that fall short of reinstalling the entire system. All the same, you have only yourself to blame if you find yourself wasting your time trying to re-enable the package manager instead of being productive or enjoying yourself.

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