Whenever I try to use dpkg or apt-get, I get the warning:

dpkg: warning: parsing file '/var/lib/dpkg/available' near line 12674 package 'jarnal':
 error in Version string 'build901': version number does not start with digit

Looking at the /var/lib/dpkg/available file, I find the entry

Package: jarnal
Priority: optional
Section: non-free
Maintainer: David K. Levine <[email protected]>
Architecture: all
Version: build901
Depends: sun-java5-jre | sun-java6-jre
Recommends: sun-jai, sun-jai-imageio
Size: 11217466
Description: a Java Notetaker and PDF Annotator... <snip>

which corresponds to the /DEBIAN/control file in jarnal-build918_all.deb. I installed this package about a year ago (before upgrading to 11.04), but can not remove it using apt or dpkg or various frontends.

locate find files installed in /usr/lib/jarnal/, but it looks incomplete - I think it might be a failed uninstall - since I remember playing with it once, so it must have been properly installed at some point.

Anyway, how can I cleanly remove both the files and the data stored by apt/dpkg from my system?

  • What does dpkg -l jarnal say?
    – arrange
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 7:27
  • Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold | Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend |/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad) ||/ Name Version Description +++-==============-==============- ============================================ un jarnal <none> (no description available)
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 7:44

3 Answers 3


Edit /var/lib/dpkg/available and /var/lib/dpkg/status to change the Version: line of the jarnal package to something dpkg likes, such as 0build901.

If there's no entry in the status file, then by definition you don't have the package installed. It's possible that the uninstall failed and that you didn't finish cleaning up properly; check if there are files /var/lib/dpkg/info/jarnal.*. If the package is installed, there should be a file jarnal.list with the list of files provided with the package. If you're removing a badly formed package manually, you don't need to worry about the other files in /var/lib/dpkg/info.

  • There is no entry in the status file nor any /var/lib/dpkg/info/jarnal.*, so I guess I'll just edit the available file and remove the files in /usr/lib/jarnal. That covers all bases?
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 14:53
  • @Simon It looks like the package was uninstalled (no entry in status, nothing in info/jarnal.*), but there are files left behind. It's impossible to tell whether there are other files left behind. If you still have jarnal-build901.deb around, run dpkg-deb -c jarnal-build901.deb to see the list of files. You can clean up available by editing the Version line or removing the whole paragraph starting with Package: jarnal. Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 15:02

If these are for not-installed packages, simply run sudo dpkg --clear-avail (following this)


You can back up the available file and then empty it (leave it there, but empty).

apt-get doesn't need the file at all, dpkg sometimes uses it for reference, but it's not essential and it will populate it again after some time.

Another option would be to delete the problematic jarnal entry from the available file manually.

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