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.

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.

Smash a button!
[Total: 3 Average: 5]

How To: Update A Single Package In Ubuntu

Today’s article should be short because it’s late in the evening and I have decided to write about how to update a single package in Ubuntu. It’s an easy topic to write about, as there are really just a couple of choices. It shouldn’t be complicated and, for the most part.

First, let me state this…

I firmly believe that you should keep everything updated and updated the minute the update is available.


That assumes a perfect world. We do not live in a perfect world. We live in the real world. Because of this, people delay updates for various reasons. The biggest delay I can think of at this hour of the night is the delays added in the business world.

Rather than push an update to production, they’ll run it through testing first. It can take quite a while before an update makes it into production.

The reality is that many of our updates are security updates. As a byproduct of their update policy, at any given time they’re running insecure software. I understand why they’d do this. They don’t want things to break. They certainly don’t want public-facing things to break.

Again, I can understand why regular people follow a similar process. They’ll wait and watch to see if the updates cause problems for other people. But, that’s like waiting for the first person to jump in the river to see if the water is cold.

In all my years of using Linux, I’ve had updates bork the system fewer times than I have fingers on one hand. I’ve had updates bork the system so completely that it hoses everything exactly zero times. As in, not once was I screwed over by an update that really did any damage.


Again, I can understand those who would rather be cautious.

This article is for you. It’s for you people who want to update a single package in Ubuntu. It’s for those people who do what they must in order to maintain a stable system.

This isn’t just applicable to Ubuntu. I tend to use Lubuntu and, as such, am a fan. So, I used Ubuntu in the headline. This applies equally to Debian, Mint, and other Ubuntu derivatives. It should even work in derivatives of derivatives. It’s pretty basic stuff.

Update A Single Package In Ubuntu:

So, you might be able to do this with a GUI. I don’t actually know and I didn’t test to see if there was a way to do so graphically. Check your software manager while the rest of us open a terminal. You can (more often than not) open your default terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T.

With your terminal now open, you need an application to update. If you’re a good netizen, you hopefully don’t have many upgrades available. You can check and see by running this command:

You can then get a list of applications that can be updated, assuming there’s an application that can be updated, with the following command:

The next step is to use one of the following two commands to update a single package in Ubuntu (neither of which are all that difficult):

Yes, that looks like it’s going to install a new application, but you substitute the <package_name> with the package name that you want to update in Ubuntu. The ‘install’ will happily upgrade to the next passage.

The next one is bit more jargony. Jargon-y? Maybe? It’s more complicated looking (but easy enough to memorize). So, if you want to update a single package in Ubuntu, this too should also do the trick:

Once again, you replace the obvious with the obvious. Just doing so would help you sort out how to update a single package in Ubuntu. Either of these commands should work, so you do have a choice.


As I said, it’s not going to be all that difficult to update a single package in Ubuntu. You have a choice in commands. While I think it’s best to avoid all update delays, I do understand why you might want to be more cautious.

I go full blast at updates, but I’ve lately been a bit slow about major upgrades. In my case it’s a bandwidth issue. I had one box running like Linux Mint 20 or something like that…

Wait, it still says 21 is the version – but I’m quite literally nearing the end of the upgrade process. That may have already changed. I was so far behind that I needed more than 4 GB worth of downloads. When I’m done we’ll have an OS that’s missing almost all the stuff I installed on top of it! 

It can sure be a pain in the butt. Alas, as least I’m not trying to update a single package in Ubuntu!

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.

Smash a button!
[Total: 3 Average: 5]

Let’s Update Ubuntu In The Terminal

Today’s article will be a nice basic article, where we discuss how to update Ubuntu in the terminal. It seems like a fine article to write and one that not everyone will be versed in. There are lots of folks who don’t use the terminal for much of anything. Then, there are people like me who use the terminal for all sorts of stuff.

If you know how to update Ubuntu in the terminal, this really won’t be a very interesting article. We’ll just be covering the basics and I’ll explain how I do it. You’ll see that I tend to throw caution to the wind and just blindly hope for the best. This strategy is fine for me, ’cause I can fix pretty much anything. (I can fix pretty much anything because I’ve broken pretty much everything.)

Of course, this article applies to Debian. This article applies to Linux Mint. This article should apply to anything that uses apt as the package manager. So, if your distro is related to Debian then this will probably work just fine for you.

Well, there’s no reason to make the intro any longer… I think I’ve covered all that you need to know to get started.

Update Ubuntu In The Terminal:

As you can guess, we need an open terminal if we’re going to update Ubuntu in the terminal. That only stands to reason… Press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, let’s update the list of software that’s available. Let’s see what software can be updated. To do that, you just run:

That will tell you the software that’s available to update. You can see what those updates are with the following command:

You can then upgrade those applications one by one if you want to. Some cautious people do this. Some businesses do this – and do this to a staging environment to test – ’cause they need to keep things running. If you want to upgrade just a single package, try this:

Now, most folks are probably going to want to upgrade all the software that has new versions. They get it easy, they just type:

This will give you the chance to see everything that’s going to be upgraded and the chance to decline or agree. Me? I automatically agree. You might want to be more cautious, but I like running the command closer to this:

That automatically says yes that I’d like to upgrade all the things. After all, even if stuff were to break, I’d have had to have upgraded to find it anyhow. 

I go a step further and just tie the two commands together. The command I run would look closer to this:

That will find all the available upgrades and install them automatically, that is without any further input from me. I’ve done this for years and it hasn’t been a problem or any more of a problem any other method would cause me. So, in short, that works for me.


I don’t know that you wanted to learn how to update Ubuntu in the terminal, but that’s today’s lesson. It’s not very complicated. I could keep going, as my actually command also includes the ‘clean’ option. I use an alias to tie it all together, rather than typing it out each time. There are also similar commands you can use for other distros with different package managers.

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.

Smash a button!
[Total: 5 Average: 5]

Let’s Upgrade Fedora From The Terminal

Today’s a good day for a short article, like one on how to upgrade Fedora from the terminal. It’s a pretty easy task, yet one I have in my notes. I see no reason to not turn it into a nice, short article. After all, you might not know how to upgrade Fedora from the terminal!

Obviously, you’re going to need Fedora installed for this. Though, technically, I’m sure you could do this if you were trying the live instance of Fedora. I mean, you could…

Anyhow, all operating systems should get updates. If you’re not getting updates, something is wrong. The most obvious ‘wrong’ in this is that you’re using an operating system that’s no longer supported. By doing so,  and doing so online, you are not just a risk to yourself – but you’re a risk to other users.

For example, you could be compromised and become a part of a botnet. That’d be bad. So, stay updated – not just for yourself but to be a good member of the community. Use a distro that’s still supported.

Lest you think this is a weird article, I’ve actually also written:

How To: Update Ubuntu From The Terminal

See? ‘Snot the first time we’ve had this sort of article. 

Well, let’s get into it. Let’s learn how to …

Upgrade Fedora From The Terminal:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal open,  you can start with a very simple command:

That’s “it”, I guess… Well, no… That’s all you need to do to upgrade your system. If your system requires a reboot, you do that with:

Now, here’s a little trick…

Let’s say your upgrade screwed something up. You upgraded to a new version of Thunderbird and you want to roll back to a previous version. You can do that without much effort. 

Obviously, change the name of the application to the application you’re having problems with. Well, each upgrade will have a number assigned to it and it’ll show that number when you run the above command. You use that number in this command:

That will undo the most recent upgrade to that application, restoring a usable application for you. You can then try it again when the application is next upgraded.

See? It’s a neat little trick with ‘dnf’. Feel free to check the man page, with man dnf, to see what other little gems you can find.


See? I told you that it’d be a nice and easy article. This one isn’t difficult – but does have a neat feature not everyone knows about, that is how to rollback upgrades with DNF when you have chosen to upgrade Fedora from the terminal.

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.

Smash a button!
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

How To: Update OpenSUSE Tumbleweed From The Terminal

It’s time for an article that describes how to update openSUSE from the terminal. After all, I’ve done so for Ubuntu and Fedora. I might as well do one for openSUSE. It seems like a good thing to do.

While most of this site is aimed at bringing you up to speed, making Linux easier, it’s also biased towards desktop Linux users. Well, today’s distro isn’t really all that popular in the desktop sphere, it’s more a server distro. There is a desktop version, and it’s a pretty great distroy.

So, to avoid confusion, “SLES” stands for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. It is a paid product with an excellent pedigree and a great reputation in the community. openSUSE is the community edition of that software. openSUSE is mostly used on the desktop, as a workstation distro.

Over the years, I’ve tried openSUSE here and there and found it to be functional, stable, and easy enough to figure out. There’s a lovely rolling-release version of openSUSE that’s called ‘Tumbleweed’. If you have a hankering to try openSUSE, go for it and give Tumbleweed a shot!

A shout-out to a user: Gecko Linux is based on openSUSE.

Oddly, it’s often harder to write the intro than it is to write the meat of the article. It can even take more time to write the intro than it takes to write the rest of the article. This article is likely to be one of those. 

Ah well… On to the article!

Update openSUSE From The Terminal:

You’ll need an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

First, you need to refresh the database of what software you have vs what software is available. Obviously this means comparing version numbers. This is a necessary step, otherwise it’d be updating blindly and that’d make no sense! So, the command you’re looking for is:

That will run its course and take some time. On a rolling release, you can expect quite a lot of updates to be available. When it is finished, and you’re ready to do the updates, you can just enter:

That’s actually all there is to it, at the base level. There’s still more, as there always is. There’s always more! If you have run the refresh command and want to see what upgrades are available, you can do that with this command:

But, that’s about all you’re going to need to know. Like always, check the man page. It’s not terribly difficult to update openSUSE, anyhow. It’s straight forward in both the terminal and GUI. My personal preference is to use the terminal.


Woohoo! There you have it! Here’s another article and this one is showing you how to update openSUSE in the terminal. It’s not terribly difficult, but it’s worth knowing. Not too many people use openSUSE and even the best of us might be unfamiliar and need a hint.

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.

Smash a button!
[Total: 6 Average: 5]
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Get notified when new articles are published! It's free and I won't send you any spam.
Linux Tips
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.