How to Fix sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1) in Ubuntu

March 31, 2019


The error message “Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)” indicates a problem with the package installer. This can happen in Ubuntu after a failed software installation, or if the installer becomes corrupted.

The key phrase in this error is /usr/bin/dpkg. This refers to the dpkg package installer for Linux. A package installer is an application that tracks software, updates, and dependencies. If it is damaged, any new software installation will cause this error message.

We cover several possible solutions, from easily-solved and straightforward solutions to more complex processes. This guide will help you resolve the dpkg returned an error code 1 on an Ubuntu operating system.

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Options to Fix sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

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Method 1: Reconfigure dpkg Database

If your package database has become corrupted, reconfiguring it can repair it.

Enter the following command:

sudo dpkg --configure -a

This command reconfigures packages that have been unpacked but not necessarily installed. An interruption at the wrong time can cause this database to become corrupt. This is especially helpful if you were running installation and the process was interrupted.

Method 2: Force-Install the Software

If Method 1 does not work, you can attempt to fix the dependencies in the package installer.

Enter the following:

sudo apt-get install -f

The -f option means fix-broken. It repairs any broken dependencies in your package manager. Broken dependencies occur when a download is interrupted, or there is a problem with the cached download.

Note: Dependencies are other software packages that are required by the software you are installing. A package manager helps keep track of dependencies for you.

Method 3: Remove Bad Software Package

If you know which software caused the errors on your system, you can remove it.

Enter the command and package_name with the name of the software that is causing the problem:

sudo apt-get remove --purge package_name

The --purge option directs the system to remove config files in addition to uninstalling. This helps get rid of all traces of the offending software.

Method 4: Clean Out Unused Software Packages

If an old, outdated, or unused package is causing the problem, you can solve the problem by removing unused software packages.

Enter the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt autoremove

Note: Avoid the next 2 options unless all other methods have failed.

Method 5: Remove Post Files

If you know the name of the package that is causing problems, you can delete the files manually. The installation files are usually located in the /var/lib/dpkg/info file.

Type in the following command and replace package_name with the name of the broken software.:

sudo ls -l /var/lib/dpkg/info | grep -i package_name

This will generate a list of all references to the software you installed.

You can then remove them by entering:

sudo mv /var/lib/dpkg/info/package_name.* /tmp

This command moves the files to the /tmp directory, where they cannot affect your package manager.

Next, update the package manager:

sudo apt-get update

After which you can re-install the broken software again.

Method 6: Overwrite Package File

If you know the name of the package that is causing a problem, you can force an overwrite.

Use the following command and replace full_name_of_package with the actual package name:

sudo dpkg -i --force-overwrite /var/cache/apt/archives/full_name_of_package

Note: If you do not know the actual name of the package, you can search for it with the following command:

ls /var/cache/apt/archies/*package_name*

Replace package_name with the name of your software. This should return any instances of that package name. Note the exact filename, and type it into the previous command.


The dpkg error message indicates that there is a problem with the package installer, which is  commonly caused by an interrupted installation process or a corrupted database.

By following these steps, you should now have several methods to fix the dpkg error message and attain a working package installer.

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Dejan Tucakov
Dejan is the Head of Content at phoenixNAP with over 8 years of experience in Web publishing and technical writing. Prior to joining PNAP, he was Chief Editor of several websites striving to advocate for emerging technologies. He is dedicated to simplifying complex notions and providing meaningful insight into data center and cloud technology.
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