[Debconf-devel] Bug#366108: debconf: Misconfigured package can block further installs, and can't be reconfigured

Helge Hafting helgehaf at aitel.hist.no
Fri May 5 07:33:31 UTC 2006

Package: debconf
Version: 1.5.0
Severity: normal

I noticed this while doing a dist-upgrade.
The package tex-common asked for a group to own font files,
and I mistyped it. tex-common then failed in its post-install
script, and blocked further upgrading.

Now, this would be easy to fix if I could use
dpkg-reconfigure tex-common
to correct the misspelled group name.  But
dpkg-reconfigure won't touch such a package because it is
"broken".  This is a problem, because the problem cannot
be fixed.  dpkg-reconfigure should simply run and ask the
questions in such a case, so I can do a
apt-get -f install (or similiar) later.

Reconfiguring the not fully installed package proved impossible.
I tired removing it the excessive way, with 
dpkg --force-depends --remove tex-common,
but the broken config remained.  I was not asked any questions
on package reinstall, so it broke the same way!  I had hoped to
get the config questions again, so I could correct the
wrong group name.  And keep any other setting, of course.

I had to use dpkg --force-depends --purge tex-common, then
I could reinstall the package.  This is bad, as a purge
destroys each and every setting completely.  Fortunately,
tex-common only have a couple of settings, but
imagine this scenario happening with the xserver, the ldap server, 
or some other really complex software.

The solution seems simple to me - please let dpkg-reconfigure
work on packages that are broken due to a failed post-install.
It will then be possible to fix bad settings, without 
clearing all other settings for the same package.  And without resorting
to hairy options like --force-depends.  

-- System Information:
Debian Release: testing/unstable
  APT prefers testing
  APT policy: (900, 'testing'), (800, 'unstable'), (800, 'stable'), (700, 'experimental')
Architecture: i386 (i686)
Shell:  /bin/sh linked to /bin/bash
Kernel: Linux 2.6.17-rc3-mm1
Locale: LANG=nb_NO.UTF-8, LC_CTYPE=nb_NO.UTF-8 (charmap=UTF-8)

Versions of packages debconf depends on:
ii  debconf-i18n                  1.5.0      full internationalization support 
ii  perl-base                     5.8.8-4    The Pathologically Eclectic Rubbis

Versions of packages debconf recommends:
ii  apt-utils              APT utility programs

-- debconf-show failed

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