Whenever trying to install any software and update manger,

I get an error stating

Package operation failed
The installation or removal of a software package failed

When I run sudo apt-get update I got this result:

conan51xd@conan51xd-Lenovo-B470:~$ sudo apt-get -f install
[sudo] password for conan51xd: 
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
conan51xd@conan51xd-Lenovo-B470:~$ apt-get update
E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/apt/lists/lock - open (13: Permission denied)
E: Unable to lock directory /var/lib/apt/lists/
E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock - open (13: Permission denied)
E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?
  • run sudo apt-get update in terminal and post its output in your question by editing it.
    – atenz
    Jul 12, 2012 at 17:30
  • a sudo apt-get -f install entered into the terminal often works but tijybba is right; post the output of apt-get update if my tip does not work.
    – onse
    Jul 12, 2012 at 17:32
  • 1
    The best advice is to reboot , and try it will run just fine. Don't use update manager , Ubuntu software center or apt-get through command line at the same time.
    – atenz
    Jul 12, 2012 at 17:42
  • yes,I know,I don't have use all of them at same times but the problem is when I finish updata,I will get this every times.
    – user66498
    Jul 12, 2012 at 17:49
  • Hey you forgot the main keyword there , it should be sudo apt-get update. Thats the answer.
    – atenz
    Jul 12, 2012 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?

This line says you are not authorized to install/update. You need to be root to do it....

You can add sudo before apt-get or you can do sudo -s to be root.

Example: sudo apt-get update


sudo -s will consider you as root until you close your terminal.


apt-get update

  • 9
    I got the error with running sudo apt update && apt upgrade, where sudo was missing from the 2nd apt statement.
    – llinfeng
    Nov 21, 2019 at 14:38
  • sudo -s is the command which solves my year long problem on MacOS !! thanks ~!
    – Franva
    Mar 15, 2022 at 6:29

I had the same error, this worked for me:

This error indicates that you (or some program/script) changed the permissions of the file /var/lib/dpkg/status. Please change them back via: "sudo chmod 644 /var/lib/dpkg/status" in order to fix the issue.

I ended up opening terminal:

sudo nautilus

navigating to the folders/files, and changing permissions to



The problem came when my permissions got screwed when trying to fix a kernel issue I had with an Nvidia driver... but that's another story..

I hope this helps...

  1. sudo -s (gives the root access)
  2. apt-get update (get the updates)
  3. apt-get upgrade (upgrades the system)

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade doesn't work on every system so run the commands separately.

  • 2
    This isn't different than previous answers.
    – Braiam
    Aug 2, 2013 at 3:43

Run this command:
sudo mv /var/lib/apt/lists{,july12}

sudo apt-get update
Then sudo apt-get upgrade

  • This potentially can damage your system.
    – Braiam
    Aug 2, 2013 at 3:43
  • The answer was written assuming apt package utility. This software has enough code to take care of situations where some other process (mv in this case) fiddles with the directory where apt-get was writing/trying to write (/var/lib/apt/lists here). And if any software being installed on Un*x system doesn't have this safety, we should start writing an if statement to take care of it
    – drake01
    Nov 24, 2013 at 3:00

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