I get this error whenever I try to install programs using the terminal:

home@ubuntu:~$ apt-get install myunity
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?

Also I'm unable to install updates using the terminal.

  • 4
    This isn't a duplicate, same error, but different reasons. – Jorge Castro Dec 1 '12 at 18:56
  • 5
    Try sudo apt-get update – Avinash Raj Feb 28 '14 at 12:21
  • i think your gui update manager is open while you running apt-get update and one thing you must be super user or use sudo before using apt-get update – smn_onrocks Feb 28 '14 at 12:24
  • Do you even own that computer, if yes then you need to show that by being the root owner (sudo) before any installation please – Zuko Mar 10 '14 at 8:10
  • 1
    See also askubuntu.com/questions/427479/… – Avinash Raj Mar 10 '14 at 13:34

The solution is to read the error message: are you root?. Use sudo to run a command with root privileges, like so: sudo apt-get update

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According to the community documentation about using the terminal,

sudo: Executing Commands with Elevated Privileges

  1. Most of the following commands will need to be prefaced with the sudo command. This elevates privileges to the root-user administrative level temporarily, which is necessary when working with directories or files not owned by your user account. When using sudo you will be prompted for your password. Only users with sudo (administrative) privileges will be able to use this command. You should never use normal sudo to start graphical applications as Root (Please see RootSudo for more information on using sudo correctly.)

So, because apt-get installs software and thus affects the system, you need to use the sudo command to give yourself administrator privilages.

Thus, you command should be sudo apt-get install myunity

If you want to update your system, run

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

This will update your system's package database and then install any upgrades.

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  • 10
    This does't help in getting rid of the error: unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root? – IgorGanapolsky Jul 24 '16 at 20:59

Before running any administrative task: installing, removing, changing system wide preferences, etc. you need to be root. This is specially true for apt-get. The message itself tells you where the problem is:

are you root?

If you are not root, the install command will not work at all.

The way to fix this is using sudo before the command:

➜  ~  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?
➜  ~  sudo apt-get update
Fetched 616 kB in 25s (23.9 kB/s)

As you can notice, it completed without problems when I used sudo. If you have any open (13: Permission denied) it is almost sure that you are not root and need to use sudo.

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  • Thanks for the help gents,as I have not set root I didn't think I'd need to use sudo but for me it's all a learning experience.Just wish you could stipulate updates in terminal – Frenchman Feb 28 '14 at 21:14

Try with

sudo apt-get update 

If u still get lock error try this command It will give the process detail

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

Then kill the process using process ID then execute the update command

And also u can delete this file your problem will solve

rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock 
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Remember to close down the Software Center before using apt-get. Or else the updater gets locked. – Dan Johansen Feb 28 '14 at 12:50
  • 1
    The lock exists to protect your repository configuration files. Killing processes and removing lock files without care can lead to a badly misconfigured system. This answer is really DANGEROUS. Before removing a lock file you have to be triple sure that the process holding it has closed, or crashed, or whatever. The correct answer is @braiam 's one. – Rmano Mar 10 '14 at 14:02
  • No such file or directory: /var/lib/dpkg/lock – IgorGanapolsky Jul 24 '16 at 21:00
  • The updater held the lock, so I could not run apt-get install. I had to wait until the update finishes (couple of minutes only), then it worked, – gaborsch Jul 11 '17 at 13:00

just run

sudo apt-get update

sudo is for running it as super user

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Just read the error output: are you root? because you are not. As a regular user you don't have enough privileges to install packages.

Prepend sudo to the command to elevate the privileges. Provided that account has sudo privileges that will work.

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I had this error and in my case I had to remove noexec on /var in /etc/fstab

which works fine on my CentOS, Fedora and Alpine Linux

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