Ignore Broken Packages in Ubuntu (or any system with Aptitude Package Manager)

Ignoring broken packages in Ubuntu or any other distribution of Linux using Aptitude package manager would usually be a bad thing and it’s not recommended. Maintaining a system of broken packages kind of defeats the object.

BUT, I recently came across a situation where I had to install a 32bit version of Chrome on my 64bit Ubuntu.  I did this by completely removing previous versions of Chrome, then downloading the .deb file from the Chrome download page and installing it from command line using….

This worked.

So why the need to ignore broken packages?

Well though it worked, it left some dependency issues. The dependencies are installed, but because they are working in a sort of compatibility mode (MultiArch) they show as broken dependencies. This forces Synaptic to display it as broken package every time you try to update, not only display it as broken but prevent you from updating until you fix it. Synaptics fix is to completely remove it.

Ok then, How do I force Synaptic to ignore the ‘broken’ package?

Firstly you have to find the dependencies that are causing the errors:

  1. Open Synaptic Package Manager (you may need to install this first “sudo apt-get install synaptic“)
  2. Find the ‘broken’ package, you will probably be notified there is broken package – click the link to Broken from the list on the left of the screen – make a note of the package name
  3. Right click on the package, select Properties
  4. Go to the Dependencies tab, make a note of the dependencies listed in italics
  5. Leave Synaptic open to test the fix later

Now we need to edit a file. Open a terminal and type/copy:

This should open the file status (which can be pretty long), you now have to find the package name (Ctrl+f should help). There should be a little section for it that resembles this:

Now delete the dependencies (the italic ones you noted earlier) from the Depends line, save the file (Ctrl+S) and close.

How do I know if my ‘broken’ packages are being ignored?

Now click Reload in Synaptic. You shouldn’t receive the broken dependency message you did earlier.


The only problem I ran into with ignoring broken packages were updates. I had to update chrome which involved doing this again (because I had to completely remove it in the first place!).

Like I said before, I don’t condone ignoring broken packages, or anything broken for that matter! Sometimes these things have to be done though.

  • Judgen Edin

    Thanks, i needed to do this too when installing steam on an gtk3-free system as the package was reported broken as zenity is blacklisted. I just removed zenity from the dependencies and now i am happily gaming without a single gtk3 lib installed. Thanks.

  • Auths Wiethers

    Thanks, that’s great! Just cured my TeamViewer installation from requiring lib32asound2 and ia32-libs on my Debian Jessie machine!

  • Ricardo

    Thanks, it helped me to avoid being stuck after force installing the xerox package for my printer. Just one fix, the path is wrong:
    “gksudo gedit /var/lib/dkpg/status”
    It shoud be:

    “gksudo gedit /var/lib/dpkg/status”