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When I try to install ANY application through terminal, I get this error:

Reading package lists... Error!
E: Read error - read (21: Is a directory)
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

And software center is also not opening.

Neither is Synaptic Package Manager. It gives the following error when I try to open it:

E: Read error - read (21: Is a directory)
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.
E: _cache->open() failed, please report.

Solutions I tried so far, but didn't fix the problem:

sudo rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_precise_restricted_binary-amd64_Packages
sudo apt-get update
sudo rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
sudo apt-get update

Any suggestions? I cannot even use apt-get install.

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If you delete the whole /var/lib/apt/lists hierarchic, you must create the partial directory under it:

sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/apt/lists/partial

Also, check that all the permissions are set:

sudo chmod -R 644 /var/lib/apt/lists
sudo chown -R root:root /var/lib/apt/lists

Then do apt-get update again.

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