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Distro: elementary OS Freya 0.3 (no modifications apart from installing bumblebee and proprietary video drivers)

Laptop: MSI ghost GS60 2PC

I have, for about the last month, been getting messages stating that I am only able to perform partial upgrades when updates have been released.

Everything was still working fine so I didn't bother to look much further into it. The packages that couldn't be update seemed to be to do with kernel headers and things for 14.10 which I didn't think was relevant to Freya. (I know I maybe completely wrong about this, please feel free to tell me so, but politely please. I am a sensitive soul.)

This afternoon I returned home and brought my laptop out of standby. In the taskbar I noticed there was, what appeared to be, a busy icon a la Skype. I clicked it wondering what it might be and was greeted by a message stating that the package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

I tried to run apt-get update, to which I was informed that there was a 404 on one of my repositories (Lightzone). This didn't seem relevant. I then ran apt-get upgrade and was greeted with this output:

Reading package lists... Error!
W: Duplicate sources.list entry http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/stable/main amd64 Packages (/var/lib/apt/lists/dl.google.com_linux_chrome_deb_dists_stable_main_binary-amd64_Packages)
W: Duplicate sources.list entry http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/stable/main i386 Packages (/var/lib/apt/lists/dl.google.com_linux_chrome_deb_dists_stable_main_binary-i386_Packages)
E: Encountered a section with no Package: header
E: Problem with MergeList /var/lib/apt/lists/repo.steampowered.com_steam_dists_precise_steam_i18n_Translation-en
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

I did a little bit of searching around on the net using a well known search engine and found a thread on the Ubuntu forums. The thread stated I could use the software centre to resolve my issue.

Hurrah! Alas on trying to run Software Centre it hangs and immediately force quits. I can see that some of the problems are to do with my source.list file but I am a little nervous removing entries from this.

Any guidance would be much appreciated.

  • I just ran synaptic and got this message on startup:E: Encountered a section with no Package: header E: Problem with MergeList /var/lib/apt/lists/repo.steampowered.com_steam_dists_precise_steam_i18n_Translation-en E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened. E: _cache->open() failed, please report. – ElementaryWatson Jul 24 '15 at 16:22
  • The problem seems to be made by Chrome. What method did you use to install Chrome? – r3bl Jul 24 '15 at 19:35
  • I used the download link to download a .deb package and executed the package by clicking the file in the file explorer. Should I try removing and reinstalling chrome? – ElementaryWatson Jul 24 '15 at 21:22
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The lines that start with W: are warnings and not directly harmful. You somehow have the package source http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/stable/main (Google's repository for Chrome) listed twice. You can fix that from the Software Center once you've fixed your other problem.

The other problem is that one of the files that the package manager reads information from has invalid content. That's the file /var/lib/apt/lists/repo.steampowered.com_steam_dists_precise_steam_i18n_Translation-en. Given the name, this file contains translations of package descriptions. It's often distributed in a compressed form, but it needs to be in plain text form once it's downloaded to the /var/lib/apt/lists directory. The URL corresponding to this file is http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/dists/precise/steam/i18n/Translation-en which doesn't deliver anything now so I don't know whether the problem was on Steam's servers or on your machine. (Unless you need to be logged in to download that file?)

You should be able to fix this from the command line. Open a terminal. If you just want to fix the problem, run the command

sudo apt update

to download package lists again. This should remove the problematic file since there's nothing to download at this URL. If the file isn't removed, remove it manually (sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/repo.steampowered.com_steam_dists_precise_steam_i18n_Translation-en) — it only contains translations of package descriptions, so it isn't vital to the system anyway.

If you want to investigate what's going on, check the format of the file.

file /var/lib/apt/lists/repo.steampowered.com_steam_dists_precise_steam_i18n_Translation-en

If this says something about “compressed data”, it could be an APT bug or a temporary misconfiguration on Steam's servers. If this says that it's a plain text file, there was a problem on Steam's servers while building that file.

If the problematic file is downloaded again because that URL is in fact available for you, you may need to comment out the Steam package source until the problem is resolvd. If you want to do this, run

grep -r repo.steampowered.com /etc/apt/sources.list*

This will show a file name followed by a colon and some more text, the file name being either /etc/apt/sources.list or /etc/apt/sources.list.d/SOMETHING. Edit that file as the superuser (e.g. sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam.list) and add a # character at the beginning of the line(s) that starts with the word deb. To reenable the source, remove the # character.

After running apt update with no errors and getting rid of the problematic file, the Software Center and the apt* command line tools should work again.

  • Thanks Gilles, I removed the Steam translation file as stated and then used software centre to remove the additional reference to the Ubuntu repositories. Everything is now working as expected. – ElementaryWatson Jul 24 '15 at 21:47

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