I've got a strange error preventing me from installing anything on my Debian box.

When I run apt-get upgrade (or apt-get install) it produces this error message:

# apt-get upgrade
E: dpkg was interrupted, you must manually run 'dpkg --configure -a' to correct the problem.

If I do at it tells me - to run dpkg --configure -a it produces the following output:

# dpkg --configure -a
Setting up initramfs-tools (0.93.4) ...
update-initramfs: deferring update (trigger activated)
Processing triggers for initramfs-tools ...
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-2.6.26-2-686

gzip: stdout: No space left on device
update-initramfs: failed for /boot/initrd.img-2.6.26-2-686
dpkg: subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1

If I do a df -h /boot it shows that the partition is almost full:

# df -h /boot
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              38M   31M  5.5M  85% /boot

If I check the directory it seems that quite a lot of the stuff is duplicated:

# ls -la /boot
total 26495
drwxr-xr-x  4 root root    1024 2009-11-02 05:00 .
drwxr-xr-x 22 root root    4096 2009-10-25 07:46 ..
-rw-r--r--  1 root root   70682 2009-08-20 23:14 config-2.6.18-6-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root   91690 2009-08-19 11:49 config-2.6.26-2-686
drwxr-xr-x  2 root root    1024 2009-09-20 15:48 grub
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 4495693 2009-09-20 15:32 initrd.img-2.6.18-6-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 4495471 2008-12-18 12:50 initrd.img-2.6.18-6-686.bak
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 7175680 2009-09-20 15:54 initrd.img-2.6.26-2-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 6239705 2009-09-20 15:48 initrd.img-2.6.26-2-686.bak
drwx------  2 root root   12288 2008-08-29 12:21 lost+found
-rw-r--r--  1 root root  723580 2009-08-21 05:08 System.map-2.6.18-6-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root  928010 2009-08-19 11:49 System.map-2.6.26-2-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 1261508 2009-08-21 05:08 vmlinuz-2.6.18-6-686
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 1506032 2009-08-19 11:48 vmlinuz-2.6.26-2-686

Can anyone help me get out of this misery? ;-)


As a stopgap measure, you can remove the .bak files in /boot, however I'd really recommend getting a bigger /boot partition. As you've found, 38MB is a bit slim, and the last thing you want to be doing is nuking kernels that you turn out to need.

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  • Yes, I thought about that, but isn't expanding the boot partition quite a hazardous task? – phidah Nov 2 '09 at 4:18
  • Depends on how your system is setup. Could be trivial, could be painful. I'd make sure my backups were solid and then parted resize to shrink the partition after sda1, use parted move to move that partition a little further along the disk, then parted resize again to make sda1 bigger. – womble Nov 2 '09 at 5:24

What kernel are you currently running? You can check that via uname -a. Once you have that information, you can delete the config-, initrd.img-, System.map-, and vmlinuz- files that don't match your current kernel version.

For caution's sake, don't actually delete those files. Rather just copy them to another partition if possible.

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  • Linux localhost 2.6.18-6-686 #1 SMP Fri Dec 12 16:48:28 UTC 2008 i686 GNU/Linux -- So files with 2.6.18-6 must be kept? – phidah Nov 2 '09 at 4:12
  • That's correct. Womble's advice is wise, though, you really need a larger /boot. – EEAA Nov 2 '09 at 4:16
  • Also sensible to remove the packages which contain them, rather than just vaping the files themselves. Search for packages containing the files with ``dpkg -S /boot/filename'' and you'll see which one to remove. – David Gardner Nov 12 '09 at 13:43

Another option is also to make a new /boot partition which would be bigger not to enlarge existing one.

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