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Whenever I try to update or install programs I get the "Package Operation Failed" message.

Here's whats it says in the details section:

installArchives() failed: (Reading database ...
(Reading database ... 5%
(Reading database ... 10%
(Reading database ... 15%
(Reading database ... 20%
(Reading database ... 25%
(Reading database ... 30%
(Reading database ... 35%
(Reading database ... 40%
(Reading database ... 45%
(Reading database ... 50%
(Reading database ... 55%
(Reading database ... 60%
(Reading database ... 65%
(Reading database ... 70%
(Reading database ... 75%
(Reading database ... 80%
(Reading database ... 85%
(Reading database ... 90%
(Reading database ... 95%
(Reading database ... 100%
(Reading database ... 242146 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing gparted ...
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon ...
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf.index...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils ...
Processing triggers for gnome-menus ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme ...
Setting up couchdb-bin (1.0.1-0ubuntu17) ...
useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.
adduser: `/usr/sbin/useradd -d /var/lib/couchdb -g couchdb -s /bin/bash -u 116 couchdb' returned error code 1. Exiting.
dpkg: error processing couchdb-bin (--configure):
 subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch:
 desktopcouch depends on couchdb-bin (>= 0.10.0-0ubuntu3); however:
  Package couchdb-bin is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch-ubuntuone:
 desktopcouch-ubuntuone depends on desktopcouch (= 1.0.8-0ubuntu1); however:
  Package desktopcouch is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch-ubuntuone (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
No apport report written because the error message indicates its a followup error from a previous failure.
No apport report written because the error message indicates its a followup error from a previous failure.
Errors were encountered while processing:
 couchdb-bin
 desktopcouch
 desktopcouch-ubuntuone
Error in function: 
SystemError: E:Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)
Setting up couchdb-bin (1.0.1-0ubuntu17) ...
useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.
adduser: `/usr/sbin/useradd -d /var/lib/couchdb -g couchdb -s /bin/bash -u 116 couchdb' returned error code 1. Exiting.
dpkg: error processing couchdb-bin (--configure):
 subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch:
 desktopcouch depends on couchdb-bin (>= 0.10.0-0ubuntu3); however:
  Package couchdb-bin is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch-ubuntuone:
 desktopcouch-ubuntuone depends on desktopcouch (= 1.0.8-0ubuntu1); however:
  Package desktopcouch is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch-ubuntuone (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured

I also tried doing this but still got an error:

joshua@Oneiric:~$ sudo dpkg --configure -a
[sudo] password for joshua: 
Setting up couchdb-bin (1.0.1-0ubuntu17) ...
useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.
adduser: `/usr/sbin/useradd -d /var/lib/couchdb -g couchdb -s /bin/bash -u 116 couchdb' returned error code 1. Exiting.
dpkg: error processing couchdb-bin (--configure):
 subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch:
 desktopcouch depends on couchdb-bin (>= 0.10.0-0ubuntu3); however:
  Package couchdb-bin is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of desktopcouch-ubuntuone:
 desktopcouch-ubuntuone depends on desktopcouch (= 1.0.8-0ubuntu1); however:
  Package desktopcouch is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing desktopcouch-ubuntuone (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:
 couchdb-bin
 desktopcouch
 desktopcouch-ubuntuone

any idea on whats wrong and how to fix this? Apparently it has something to do with couchdb-bin, desktopcouch, and desktopcouch-ubuntuone

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2 Answers 2

There is something seriously wrong with your machine (or with the packages, but as I haven't seen a mass of reports about the package, I assume it's your machine).

What is failing is adduser. That is an essential piece of the system, there. I'd look around for something seriously broken, like a readonly /etc/, or no /proc/ or something like that.

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Do you have any lockfiles lying about?

Look for /etc/passwd.lock and /etc/shadow.lock in particular.

If they are there, remove them, maybe an old visudo crashed or something.

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