When I try to install a package with apt-get install, I'll occasionally see a message of the form

Package somePackage is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package somePackage has no installation candidate

Does anyone know how to find out what package(s) it is actually referring to?


I looked at "But is referred to by another package." - Finding that package and it suggested using apt-cache search to find the package that refers to it. Yet if I do this for somePackage, I won't get any output.

For example, apt-cache search openoffice.org-hunspell returns no output, but apt-cache search gcc returns several packages.


There are several different packages that have caused the first part of the problem for me in the past, but the apt-cache search not turning anything up has (so far) only happened for the openoffice.org-hunspell package.

I guess that what I want to know the most is this: when I see the error message "Package somePackage has no installation candidate," I'd like to have a sure-fire way to know

  1. Was it replaced with another package (in which case knowing what the new package name is would be helpful); or
  2. Was it just removed altogether; or
  3. Is there some problem with /etc/apt/sources.list that means I can't get it.
  • I very rarely see that message. – user25656 Jan 16 '14 at 17:38
  • 1
    Is there only one package this is happening to for you, or many? And if one, which package? (synaptic might be another possible tool for checking packages you want to install, as well) – Jez W Jan 16 '14 at 17:38
  • Bad Example - OpenOffice is now Third party, use Libreoffice instead. If you want to install it, see here. Anyway, what version of Ubuntu are you using? – Wilf Jan 16 '14 at 17:39
  • I'm on 12.04. So technically Libreoffice is already installed. Yet there doesn't seem to be a corresponding package with the libreoffice prefix. For example, there doesn't seem to be a package called "libreoffice-hunspell". – Bob Hogg Jan 16 '14 at 21:26
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    You've done an apt-get update right? I've heard that message can show up when a package has been removed from a repo, but you're APT cache doesn't know it yet. – Xen2050 Dec 12 '14 at 14:43

I had this kind of errors when the universe repos were not enabled (it was a minimal server install). Enabling them solved the issue (the package were provided by such repos). HTH.


Package somePackage is not available, but is referred to by another package. This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or is only available from another source

It means that a package have dependency, suggestion or recommendation to "somePackage", but somePackage itself and any associated meta data is not available. You should look, by yourself, for the replacement of somePackage (if the package was in the official repositories, it's very likely that there's a empty package that points to the replacement), in case the package has been renamed, or forget about it, in case you are trying to get a package that was removed from the repositories for any motive. There's simply no way to do this programmatically.

  • This is effectively a restatement of part of the question -- the questioner is aware it indicates that a package has been removed, he's trying to find a general way to determine what package is depending on the one named in the error message. – Zeiss Ikon Dec 16 '16 at 12:37
  • @ZeissIkon This is effectively a restatement of the answer: you can't. – Braiam Dec 16 '16 at 12:40
  • May want to clarify that in your answer, then. I didn't get that from what you wrote. – Zeiss Ikon Dec 16 '16 at 13:11

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