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Everytime I sudo apt-get update it always not complete and will say in the end

E: Read error - read (5: Input/output error)
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

Same goes, when I try to install something and do sudo apt-get install <some app>

What should I do ? I admit, that my drive has bad sectors, could that be the reason? Is there anything else I can do?

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I am experiencing the same problem,even though i followed solution provided by Avinash Raj the error recurrs. is there any other way to approach this problem. thanks in advace – saikumarm May 9 '14 at 12:06
Could it be HDD problems? I have been having the same problems and my file system kept on falling back to a read-only system. – Dennis M. Mwebia Jun 29 '15 at 7:57
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Try using an older status file,

sudo mv /var/lib/dpkg/status /var/lib/dpkg/status.bad
sudo cp /var/lib/dpkg/status-old /var/lib/dpkg/status
sudo apt-get update
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thank you 2x Avinash :) .. that really saves me.. All along it was just the status file is my problem? – Teody C. Seguin Jan 24 '14 at 13:58
The problem persists even after doing the steps you told, may be my status-old is also corrupt. – Prabhu Aug 24 '14 at 8:35
the try the one within the backup directory /var/backups/dpkg.status.0 – Avinash Raj Aug 24 '14 at 8:39
In my case, this did not work. I removed /var/lib/dpkg/status and just created an empty one with touch /var/lib/dpkg/status and that fixed the problem. – hayavuk Sep 2 '14 at 16:43
I had to do the following to solve this: sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/* -vf sudo apt-get update – jonnyflash Dec 30 '14 at 4:43

I was running into a similar error:

Reading package lists... Error!
E: Encountered a section with no Package: header
E: Problem with MergeList /var/lib/dpkg/status
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

I followed similar suggestions to copy status-old.

$ head /var/lib/dpkg/status
$ head /var/lib/dpkg/status-old

All of my status files were blank for some reason. Luckily, I found out there are backups of these files:

$ ls -l /var/backups/dpkg.status.*
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 444620 Nov 15 06:33 /var/backups/dpkg.status.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 444620 Nov 15 06:33 /var/backups/dpkg.status.1.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 128168 Sep 20  2013 /var/backups/dpkg.status.2.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 112545 Sep 16  2013 /var/backups/dpkg.status.3.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 107767 Sep 14  2013 /var/backups/dpkg.status.4.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 107766 Sep 11  2013 /var/backups/dpkg.status.5.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  94583 Sep 11  2013 /var/backups/dpkg.status.6.gz

I checked the latest backup...

$ head /var/backups/dpkg.status.0

...but it was still blank. So I unzipped an older one...

$ gunzip /var/backups/dpkg.status.1.gz
$ head /var/backups/dpkg.status.1

This time there was content. So I copied it...

$ cp /var/backups/dpkg.status.1 /var/lib/dpkg/status

Then apt-get update ran without problems.

Credit goes to this post.

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This is old question, but just for archive purpose... the follow was what solve this problem in my case:

sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/* -vf
sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get update
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yes removing all the apt-get files and starting totally fresh was also what worked for me, it took some time but worked! tanx – azerafati May 14 at 14:28

I was able to solve this issue simply by updating. The package manager will take care of all the file stuff.

sudo apt-get update

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