# gsandie online notebook

## apt-get update failing with method died error

If you’ve tried to install or update a package on debian based systems (debian, ubuntu, etc) and you’ve had the following error:

Failed to exec method /usr/lib/apt/methods/
E: Method  has died unexpectedly!
E: Sub-process  returned an error code (100)
E: Method /usr/lib/apt/methods/ did not start correctly


You might find this a pain to debug. There are a few things that seem to cause this problem:

• corrupt sources.list entry, you have an entry in your sources.list file (or a file included from sources.list.d) which contains a deb or deb-src line which has a malformed uri method (see sources.list(5) for a list of valid methods) or is just an incorrect entry. Fix the malformed entry, run apt-get update and then all should be well.

• corrupt entry in /var/lib/apt/lists - if your sources.list files are ok, you may have a corrupt entry in one of the lists that have been downloaded. To resolve this you can backup the files somewhere, remove the existing files, and then run apt-get update, it’ll download a new set of lists. You then should be able to install/update packages.

## Debugging the problem

I debugged this problem with the apt-get manpages, strace to find out what the process was trying to load, and the apt sources to explain what the error message was saying and why it would occur.

## Edit

This has been happening a lot on my servers. I’ve further dug into it and found that the eu-west-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_natty_multiverse_i18n_Translation-en and eu-west-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_natty_main_i18n_Translation-en files appear to be the ones causing the problem. After performing an update these files are no longer present. I’ve not had a chance to dig into why this is yet.