Ubuntu – How to fix a “Problem with MergeList” or “status file could not be parsed” error when trying to do an update


The computer gave me this output in a window:

E: Encountered a section with no Package: header
E: Problem with MergeList /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_natty_main_binary-i386_Packages
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

How can I fix this?

Best Answer

  • These terminal commands should solve your problem:

    First remove the Merge List by opening a terminal (Press Ctrl+Alt+T to launch) and run this command*:

    sudo rm -vf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

    Next, generate a new one by running a simple update:

    sudo apt-get update

    Here is the bug report (and another) for this problem, which is now fixed so it shouldn't create new malformed files, however if you already have the malformed files you need to remove them as explained in this post.

    *The options used for rm are -v verbose

    -v, --verbose explain what is being done

    and -f force

    -f, --force ignore nonexistent files and arguments, never prompt

    If you are ever unsure about a command line or the options being used always refer to the manual page for the command. These can be accessed on the internet by searching for man and the command for example man rm or you can access the same information by typing exactly the same command in the terminal for example man rm instructions for quitting the page will be at the bottom of the terminal like this

    picture of man page options

  • Related Question