Dealing With “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock”

Today’s article is a rather specific article, where we examine a couple of ways to deal with the message “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock”. This is an error message that you’ll get when something is already updating (or installing) and you try to install something else or if you try to perform updates.

Basically, when you update something, apt will lock a file so that nothing can interfere with it. This is a good thing, ensuring your updates go smoothly. This is something you want to have to happen.


Things don’t always go according to plan. Things may freeze, things may take too long, and things can stop the upgrade (or update, let’s use those words largely interchangeably). You may find yourself coming across this message and not knowing what to do.

A bit on update and upgrade

First, obviously, this article only applies to distros that use ‘apt’ as their package manager. So, that’s Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, and many more that are derived from Debian or Ubuntu.

You have on your computer a database of software available in the repositories you’ve enabled. Then you update this database software with ‘sudo apt update‘. You then upgrade your software when you run ‘sudo apt upgrade‘. So, in the very specific terminology used, there’s a difference between update and upgrade. I know this, but will use the words interchangeably. 

As mentioned, when you’ve started this process (that is the updating of the database) you’ll be frozen out of further apt commands that can act on the system. You can still run queries like ‘apt-cache search foo‘ but you can’t install or uninstall software while this process is happening. The same is true during the upgrade portion of the process.

Well, that’s when you’re going to get this error message.

For example, I recently had to update a Linux Mint system and the update process was horrible – but mostly because it didn’t seem designed to work with bandwidth like mine.

There were constant timeout warnings even though things were still downloading. Things would also freeze entirely and it was during this that I realized I should write an article about what to do when you get the message “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock”. After all, I was killing that process like an assassin in a video game. I showed no mercy!

NOTE: The correct thing to do is wait. If waiting doesn’t work and much time has passed, the next correct thing to do is reboot. After you’ve rebooted, you should try the update again and follow any directions it might give you.


I don’t always follow directions well. Nor do I always do the right thing. This is hardly the first time I’ve given you answers about how to do the “wrong” thing right. This probably won’t be the last time I’ve told you how to do things that are generally considered a bad idea, sometimes an especially bad idea.

With that said and done…

Fix “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock”:

You’re going to want an open terminal for this. Yes, a terminal. You should be used to that by now. The terminal is a handy application and we use it often. In most cases, you can just press CTRL + ALT + T and your terminal should open.

We want to get rid of the message “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock”. and I’ll cover a couple of quick and easy ways to do this, meaning you can (generally) start the process all over again. With your terminal, we’re going to find the PID – that is Process ID – and kill it.

You can read this article:

Find An Application’s Process ID (PID)

Or you can skip that article…

We already know that we’re interested in apt’s PID, so we just run this command:

Take the output from that and enter it in the following command:

Of course, that’s the fun way. You can actually use a much easier command to deal with the “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock” message. It’s not nearly as fun, but it should work every time. Try this command:

That one command should always work and is fairly easy to remember. You just take the path of the lock from the command, elevate your permissions, and remove the lock. It’s not unlike using lock cutters on a real-world lock, but requires much less physical effort!

Again, I highly suggest you resolve this message in the proper manner. Wait a while, reboot if nothing changes over time, and then try the update again so that you can follow any directions it gives you. That’s the smart way to deal with this.


Yup… Here I am giving bad advice on the internet. I figure folks might just want to do this. If they want to do this, they might as well have good directions. This isn’t the correct way to deal with “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock” but it’s a way of doing so. You could end up with some currupt files and impropperly installed software, so you really should not do it this way, but it’s your computer.

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Show Files Installed With A Package (Using ‘dpkg’)

Today’s article is going to be quick and easy, as we simply cover how to show files installed with a package. Because I am reasonably compelled to optimize for search engines, the title just plain sucks. It should be much longer. Even though the exercise is really simple, explaining what we’re doing is a bit more complicated.

NOTE: The ‘dpkg’ may confuse some folks, but it means this article is only valid for those folks who are using .deb files, the apt package manager, and nothing else. So, if you’re using Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, or similar, then this article is meant for you. If you’re using a different distro, maybe I’ll cover those in another article.

So, what exactly are we doing?

Well, when you install software you don’t generally install just a single file. At least not if the software is all that complicated. 

Instead, you install all sorts of other files along with the software you’re installing. You don’t just install a single binary file, you install quite a few other files along with it.

Today, we’re going to list the files, the dependencies if you will, that go along with the applications we install. It’s not difficult, just a single command, but you can see why this would make for a very long article title.

Let’s keep this article short, as I’ve done some longer material lately:

Show Files Installed With A Package:

Yeah, you’re going to need a terminal for this. If you want to use ‘dpkg’ then you will need an open terminal. As that’s what we’re using, we need said terminal. In most distros you can just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

The tool we’re using is ‘dpkg’ and the man page describes it like this:

dpkg – package manager for Debian

The ‘Debian’ bit is important. As I mentioned above, this only works for distros that use dpkg to begin with. Anyhow, that’s an accurate description of what dpkg does.

The command we’ll use is simply:

For example, you might try:

If you have Chrome installed,  you might try this command:

As you can see from the output, you’re generally installing a bunch of files when you install a new application. It may not appear that way during the installation process, but you’re most likely installing more than a single file each time you install an application.


If you’ve ever wanted to show files installed with an application, now you know. It’s a pretty handy command to have if you’re into that sort of thing. If you’re playing the game of the lightest-possible-distro, then maybe you want to keep the number of files installed to a minimum and use the lightest software you can. Either way, it’s an informative command that should amuse my readers for five to ten minutes.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Install .DEB Files In Ubuntu

Today’s article is only useful for a subset of my readers, that is those who need to know how to install .deb files in Ubuntu. That’s a bit cheeky of a headline, but there’s a character limit to adhere to. So, if you want to install .deb files in Ubuntu, this article is for you…

What are .deb files?

The .deb file extension means that it is a package meant to be installed in Debian. So, this article will be valid for all Debian users – even those downstream, like Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Quite a few Linux distros use .deb files, not just Ubuntu. I happen to be an Ubuntu member and many of my readers use distros based on Ubuntu (which is, of course, based on Debian). To keep things short, we’re not going to type all that out over and over again.

Many new users start with Ubuntu or Mint, and Debian itself of course. You might be a new user and have reached the point where you’re comfortable installing software from the graphical installer built into your operating system of choice.

Well, this is Linux… There are all sorts of ways to do things! Assuming you’re safe, or unsafe if you want – it’s your choice, you can find software that’s not available in the graphical installer, or newer versions than what you’ll find in the graphical installer. You’ll often find this software available in .deb format and this article will show you a few ways to install those .deb files.

How To: Install .DEB files in Ubuntu:

The first way we’re going to cover will be in your terminal. You’ll likely need an open terminal for the rest of the methods, so you might as well open your terminal now. You can just smash the CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal application should pop open.

The first method is pretty easy. You’re simply using ‘apt’ in the terminal, much like you’d do if you wanted to update from the terminal. The command would look something like this:

You’ll usually have downloaded the file to your Downloads directory, so you can either navigate to Downloads using the cd command or you can just include the folder in your path to the file, kind of like this:

Of course, you’ll use the actual file name and you’ll be asked for your password (unless you’ve changed that). Enter your password and let apt do its thing. Using apt is great because it will do its best to resolve any dependency issues you might have.

Now onto some GUI ways to install .deb files in Ubuntu!

Install .DEB Files With GDebi:

You followed the directions above and have an open terminal, right? Good, because GDebi doesn’t always come installed by default. I’ve previously written an article about GDebi, but it’s actually on the old site. I won’t bother linking it.

GDebi is a great GUI, that is a graphical, way to install .deb files. In fact, on the man page, it is described as:

gdebi – Simple tool to install deb files

To install .deb files with GDebi you first need to install it. You can do that right there in the terminal. To install GDebi, just run this command:

Once you have GDebi installed, you just use it from the right-click menu. Use your file manager to navigate to the download’s directory. Then you just right-click on the .deb file and choose to install it. The first time around, you might need to do some sort of ‘open with’ exercise, but then it should appear as something like “Open with GDebi package installer” or you will pick it from a list.

I’m positive you can figure it out from there. The great thing about using this GUI method to install software in Ubuntu is that it too will attempt to deal with any dependency issues automatically.

Install .DEB Files With QApt:

Do you still have that terminal open? Good! We have one final graphical method to install .deb files in Ubuntu. This one is a fairly new application and it’s a Qt application. However, it installs with very few dependencies and takes up very little space. Functionally, it’s very similar to GDebi.

So then, let’s start with getting QApt properly installed. The name is quite a bit longer, but it’s still easy to install QApt. To install the software, try this:

It’s a nice and light way to graphically install .deb files. For the life of me, I can’t figure out the correct man page incantation to make it work. No amount of trying the various words results in a man page opening. I do not know why, but I do know that it works. If you search to install QApt, it describes itself as:

qapt-deb-installer – tool for installing deb files

That’s plenty accurate. That’s what it is and that’s what it does. While I can’t find a man page for QApt, that’s an adequate description.

This QApt is a bit different. Like with GDebi, you’ll use your file manager to navigate to the directory that contains your .deb file (usually the Downloads directory) and right-click on the .deb file you wish to install. You’ll then pick “Open With” and click on the “QApt Package Installer”. With QApt now open, you’ll just click the obvious install button and wait patiently for it to do its thing.


So, there you have it… You have another article and this one has you learning how to install .deb files in Ubuntu. There are a few ways and you can pick the one that works best for you. Much of the time, I already have a terminal open and already navigated to the ~/Downloads directory. Because of this, I’ll often just do the installation right there in the terminal, using the apt command. But, it’s up to you. You have choices!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Search With apt

Today we’ll learn how to search with apt. There are any number of reasons why you’d want to do this. You can use this to find applications by name or subject. Maybe you want to find files that meet a certain criteria? It could be that you’ve forgotten the name of the application you’re thinking of? Perhaps you want to know if an application is available in the repositories before you go seeking it elsewhere?

There are all sorts of reasons, including those, why you might want to search with apt. Obviously, this requires an operating system that uses apt, so that limits you to things like Debian, Ubuntu, official Ubuntu flavors, Linux Mint, etc… So, well, it’s a pretty sizable number of distros where this will work.

This will be a pretty simple article. It will also be pretty brief. I’ve likely mentioned searching in another apt article, but it’s important that we cover it. Alas, I’m running out of things that make for longer articles (in the notes I’m working from), so this is just another article where I’m trying to make you aware that certain tools exist.

This should absolutely be a short and easy to understand article. In some recent commentary, I realized that what’s ‘simple’ to me is something that someone else has been dealing with for the past year. Even my easier articles have the chance to help people figure out their Linux problems. Good… It makes me feel better when I write an ‘easy’ article.

So, with all that said… Let’s learn how to:

Search With apt:

This article pretty much requires an open terminal, like oh so many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, and you should by now – if you’ve been following along long enough, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Now, it should go without saying, apt is how you interact with your package manager. It’s how you install, uninstall, or otherwise manage your software in the terminal. You could insist on using a GUI to install software, in which case this won’t be of much interest to you, or you could just do it all in the terminal. Either way, if you are using a different package manager then this will be of no value to you.

Me? I prefer to do this sort of stuff in the terminal because I find it easier and faster. I’ve already got a terminal open anyhow, so I might as well use it.

Anyhow, with your terminal open, go ahead and type:

For example:

Seriously, if you’ve never used the search function, go ahead and try the above command. You might be surprised by what you find.

Now, if you’re trying to narrow it down some, you can use the –names-only flag. Which isn’t as accurate as it could be. For example, try:

But, as near as I can tell, that’s searching not just the names but also searching the one-liner description. Like, if you run the above command you’ll also see ‘terminator’, which is definitely not ‘terminal’.

However ‘terminator’ includes ‘terminal’ in the description. So, I’m not sure where that’s going with that and the man pages weren’t all that helpful. You can also use RegEx (Regular Expressions, for the uninitiated). For example,  you can run:

This, of course, only works if you have Google’s Chrome repositories enabled. Otherwise, pick something else to test this with. Or, just trust me when I say RegEx works, which the man page will confirm.

Anyhow, our example command from above would (on this computer) would have an output that looks like this:

Which, as you can see, means I have multiple versions of Chrome available. So, that’s something positive in my life! But, the point is, I did a search with apt and came away with the information I wanted. I’d normally send you to the application’s man page, but in that probably won’t make it all that much clearer. 


Yeah, that’s it. You can now search with apt and find what you’re looking for. Use some of your own search terms, like apt-cache search image editor, and see what sorta results you get. It’s not the most refined, but it’s an effective way to search with apt.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Learn Some apt Basics

Today we’ll be learning a little about some apt basics. This is only useful if your distro uses apt to manage software. If you aren’t using a distro that does (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc) then this probably isn’t an article that will interest you much, and that’s fine. With the great variety there is in the Linux world, it won’t always be an article that matters to you. Better luck tomorrow! Well, two days from now… 

In the past we’ve covered quite a few apt commands. Here are a few that are poorly formatted ’cause, you know, WordPress…

How To: Clear The apt Cache

Use ‘apt’ To Download A Program And Its Dependencies

Use ‘apt-cache’ To Find An Application’s Homepage

Those are a few – but there are actually more than that. If you’re unfamiliar with apt, you can click any of those articles and learn more about it.

For those of you whose systems use apt to manage packages, this article is for you. If you aren’t aware, apt is the package manager application that you’ll interact with more often than not (if you do things in the terminal).

Apt has a number of commands, of course. As a package manager, it’s bound to be a robust and potentially complicated application. Today, we’ll just be covering a few simple apt commands that you’re most likely to use. It will not be an exhaustive article because of time constraints, reader attention limits, and usefulness. My goal was never to replicate man pages. You’ve still gotta read ’em.

So then, without further ado…

Some apt Basics:

If you want to use apt, you have to have an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard. Press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, you can easily install applications with apt. You’ll need to know the package name for the software you want to install, however. So, you can search for packages easily enough:

For example, you can use ‘terminal’ in there as a keyword and get a ton of options, all of which should be installable easily. Again, these are just apt basics.

Now that you know, or you may already have known, the package name, you can install it with:

You don’t need to do the runaround with dpkg for local .deb files, by the way. I’m not sure why people still suggest that? If there’s a good reason for doing it that way, please let me know in the comments. You can just use apt and it works just fine – including resolving dependencies (when they’re able to be resolved). To install a local .deb file with apt:

If you want to get the information for a specific package, you can use the ‘show’ command. That’s easy enough:

If you want to see the dependencies, that is the other applications that need to be installed in order to make it work, then you just check the dependencies with:

If you want to remove a package with apt, then you can just read this article to decide which command is right for your needs:

‘sudo apt remove’ vs ‘sudo apt purge’

That’ll answer it nicely enough.


There you have it. You have an article about apt basics, and that’s all it is. You’ll note that not all apt commands need elevated permissions, so there’s no need to use sudo unless you’re adding or removing software. The other commands can be run without elevated permissions.

There’s more to apt. Yes, yes there is. Type man apt and you’ll get an idea of the available options. This article is just some apt basics, the things I think you’re most likely to need on a day to day basis. 

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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