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I get this error when trying to use apt-get:

E: Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock - open (11 Resource temporarily unavailable)
E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/) is another process using it?  

How can I fix this?

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This is also true if you reboot? Maybe some old apt thread is locking the file, you need to find out which and kill it or just rebooting will do it. – Bruno Pereira Jan 29 '12 at 11:19
This procedure almost always fixes this problem, and when it doesn't, its output (the text from the Terminal) is sometimes useful. If you decide to do it, you can add this text to your question. – Eliah Kagan Jun 6 '12 at 9:10
I would suggest one more thing that you may note when faced with this issue. Do check if your disk drives are mounted. If they are not, you may not be able to acquire the lock as the package installer will not be able to access the filesystem. Hope this helps. :) – Hari Apr 6 '13 at 12:23
You can use sudo lsof /var/lib/dpkg/lock to find the process that owns the lock file (if empty, assume the lock is left over from a previous boot and can be sudo rmd), then consider doing a sudo kill -9 <PID> (get <PID> from lsof output. – waltinator Mar 17 '14 at 22:01
This can be a sign that something else is installing or removing software and has locked the apt database while it performs the actions. – Foreever Feb 3 '15 at 4:32

14 Answers 14

This should be used as last resort. If you use this carelessly you can end up with a broken system. Please try the other answers before doing this.

You can delete the lock file with the following command:

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

You may also need to delete the lock file in the cache directory

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

After that, try opening Synaptic again.

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ok... but why happened this? – Jaime Hablutzel May 26 '12 at 22:40
@jaime: probably apt-get (or some GUI frontend to it) was halted while executing, leaving apt in a locked state. – bouke Sep 13 '12 at 12:15
I would accept this as the best answer. correct one. – Anwar Shah Apr 6 '13 at 14:37
@AnwarShah no, there are other considerations before going around removing files of the system. – Braiam Dec 31 '13 at 14:47
rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock; dpkg --configure -a: – WitchCraft Jan 15 '14 at 15:07

I see pretty much all the answers recommend deleting the lock. I don't recommend doing that as a first measure; maybe if there is no alternative. The lock is placed when an apt process is running, and is removed when the process completes. If there is a lock with no apparent process running, this may mean the process got stuck for some reason.

If you try

ps aux | grep apt

that will catch processes containing the word apt, at least. If you see an apt-get process or an aptitude process that looks stuck, you can try

kill processnumber

and if that doesn't work try

kill -9 processnumber

This should kill the process and may remove the lock. Killing an apt or aptitude process is harmless unless it is actually in the middle of package installation. In any case, if the process got stuck, you probably don't have a choice but to kill it.

Killing a dpkg process directly, if present, is not a good idea, because if dpkg is active, it is probably manipulating the package database, and killing it may leave the package database in an inconsistent state; i.e. corrupted.

Killing an apt-get or aptitude process is in general much safer.

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Also, I would kill dpkg. This worked for me, as it was trying to finish something it stared before the machine was stopped previously, and couldn't figure it out on his own. – morynicz Sep 14 '13 at 18:46
@Link I don't think killing dpkg is a good idea, because usually dpkg is manipulating the package database directly, and this could cause corruption. – Faheem Mitha Sep 14 '13 at 20:17
There was no need to kill dpkg. After killing the stuck apt-get process, dpkg went away automatically. – friederbluemle Oct 3 '14 at 4:16
If killing dpkg can corrupt its database, dpkg was badly designed. Period. – Jay Sullivan Nov 18 '14 at 3:36
Note, killall apt-get does the same thing as your ps/kill combo. – Cerin Jan 15 at 22:09

You will get this message if you forget to use sudo when executing an apt command.

Otherwise this is a sign that something else is installing or removing software and has locked the apt database while it performs the actions. The programs that can do this are:

  • The Software Center
  • The Update Manager
  • The apt link installer (I think this now goes through SC)
  • The apt-get or aptitude command line utilities.

You can force the lock off by removing the file, but it's not recommended without first closing the program that's holding the lock safely, since you could cause corruption or interrupt an installation (bad). The command provided by João should close the program that holds the lock and then remove the lock but won't protect you from install interruption:

sudo fuser -cuk /var/lib/dpkg/lock; sudo rm -f /var/lib/dpkg/lock   

And the same command can be used for the apt cache lock:

sudo fuser -cuk /var/cache/apt/archives/lock; sudo rm -f /var/cache/apt/archives/lock

IMPORTANT: only do this as a last resort since it can crash your system. First try killing any running instance of apt or aptitude as described in Faheem's answer.

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I was updating my software when I got the error message. – raindrop Aug 16 '13 at 22:04
This crashed for me- – umpirsky Sep 21 '14 at 17:33
sudo fuser -cuk /var/cache/apt/archives/lock directly rebooted my computer. apt-get is now unlocked. – Maxime R. Dec 4 '14 at 21:47
This crashed my entire server. – 에이바 Jan 5 '15 at 21:28
Killing apt or dpkg half way through is not a great idea. – poolie Feb 2 '15 at 18:12

Remove your /var/lib/dpkg/lock file and force package reconfiguration.

sudo rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock
sudo dpkg --configure -a

It should work after this.

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these commands helped, but now when I tried to install again, got this reply : Could not get lock /var/cache/apt/archives/lock - open. I think I would have to do like previous unlocking problem, but please tell me the exact keywords for command. I'm an absolute beginner. – kern Jan 29 '12 at 11:38
sudo - execute command as root, rm - remove file. Maybe try sudo rm /var/cache/apt/archives/lock – kubahaha Sep 24 '12 at 13:56
This is not a good suggestion: blindly removing the luck may corrupt dpkg's state. – poolie Feb 2 '15 at 18:09
Yes! This! Works! – petur Feb 2 at 10:51
yeah it worked.. – Sajin Shereef Feb 14 at 13:30

Only one program can hold the lock. Make sure that you are not running aptitude, synaptic or adept. Close the program and run it again it should work.You may either have synaptic open, or have another terminal window open running apt-get, or have the update manager running.Check it and see if any of those are running,if any of them is running close it and try again.

Try this command in terminal to find what is running

ps -e | grep -e apt -e adept | grep -v grep

If that doesn’t print anything, type the following in terminal to remove the lock

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

Now you can install any Packages.

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Deleting the lock file is, what I would consider, a dangerous thing to do. If another process is locking for a valid reason - and you remove that lock file and force an install with what you were doing prior - you could seriously, in a negative way, affect your system. – Marco Ceppi Nov 30 '10 at 5:49
That's why i have given that in Note.If all the above fails the only way is to remove the lock.It wont cause any problem as long as dpkg and apt-get/aptitude processes aren't running – karthick87 Nov 30 '10 at 5:55

My guess is that the most likely way to hit this is:

  • boot Ubuntu
  • start a terminal
  • type sudo apt-get install whatever

and the command-line apt overlaps with update-manager automatically polling.

So if you try again in a few minutes that should fix it.

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Great hint in contrast to the half-dozen replies suggesting to just remove the file ;-) I randomly ran in the issue and most likely this is it! – Alex Jan 21 '14 at 16:14
Safe enough, had to wait a little before sudo apt-get install could work. – sargas May 11 '15 at 17:56

This will happen if you have 'Update Manager' running in parallel for any update check or install as install process places Lock. If you're facing the same error without 'Update Manager' running you have to remove it from /var/lib/dgkg/lock, which definitely you can't do it manually

sudo fuser -cuk /var/lib/dpkg/lock
sudo rm -f /var/lib/dpkg/lock

works fine. Taken from:

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This was the problem in my case! – LondonRob Sep 19 '14 at 13:12
Better solution since fuser command used to track down other process (if still alive) – Lars Nordin Mar 18 '15 at 11:50

Don't be so fast to remove something, it may totally damage your system; rather wait until the currently installing or uninstalling program finishes its task and after that you will get access. If you think that there is nothing currently installing or uninstalling, then just reboot your system with the command sudo reboot.

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This looks like a comment rather than an answer. Could you move this instead as a comment to the answer it was responding to? – jvriesem May 12 at 21:15
@jvriesem I think this is a very important answer, because the point he's making is what is missing from many other answers! – Volker Siegel Jul 2 at 10:31

Just sudo rm -f /var/lib/apt/lists/lock and try again.

apt-fast MAY be responsible for not unlocking properly; this happens sometimes when you abort apt-get or dpkg too.

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The cause of this error may be Update Manager automatically refreshing the repositories in background (typical right after logging in after a fresh install).

If this is the case just wait few seconds or launch Update Manager to check the status.

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I had this right after installing Ubuntu 16.04. Turns out that there was a background process in the Ubuntu Software Center that was waiting for me to manually install some updates. – jvriesem May 12 at 21:16

I don't see this answer anywhere above but on Ubuntu 16.04, I encountered this problem as well. The cause was the time on my computer was set into the future. (This is because I'm on a Windows+Ubuntu dual boot system and I guess I have messed up local time vs UTC time.)

One odd thing was that the locked file's date and time was the exact date and time that I ran the program.

I then used "fuser" as described in earlier posts and apt worked, but I was getting complaints about needing to run dpkg -a -reconfigure. When I did that, I got errors like:

newline in field name #padding

in files like '/var/lib/dpkg/updates/0003'.

All of this was very strange as I've never seen it before. So, I thought these were symptoms and changed my data and time manually. I knew there was a problem with the date/time when I logged in, but was ignoring it. (Previously, it was setting it automatically via the Internet and NTP).

Then, all of the above problems were fixed... Hopefully, this helps someone else! The most notable symptom is perhaps the date/time of the lock file being the exact date/time that you are trying to run the command.

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If you have security updates set to auto-install this will happen frequently. I literally wait 30 seconds and it fixes the issue. Just throwing this out there in case anyone else encounters this issue.

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In my case I was getting the same message by not realizing I had switched to root user and was trying sudo apt-get. Once I realized this I just ran apt-get, and it worked. Silly, but it might still explain the error for some.

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After running commands told by Kern in his answer, you may try this:

sudo rm -r /var/cache/apt/archives/{lock,partial} 

Now run:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade 
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