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Just annotations of little "how to's", so I know I can find how to do something I've already done when I need to do it again, in case I don't remember anymore, which is not unlikely. Hopefully they can be useful to others, but I can't guarantee that it will work, or that it won't even make things worse.
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Getting out of a dependency hell without reinstalling

Posted 04-18-2013 at 01:07 AM by the dsc
Updated 04-18-2013 at 10:44 PM by the dsc

I'm not suggesting it's really preferable in any situation or in any specific situation, I just found myself in a "what the hell" point and thought it worth a try, and it worked.

I was just thinking that it would be nice that for slideshow videos there was a variable frame rate, and turns out that it exist. I've found that the program handbrake can handle that easily, so I decided to install. Unfortunatelly it's only on Debians unnofficial multimedia repository, which can have some serious conflicts with official packages. That's what happened after I naively upgraded just one or another additional package that I thought that wouldn't cause the same sorts of bugs I already had once, but it did. These are packages somewhat indirectly related with (g)mplayer, like libavcodec53 and related packages.

Once you install the multimedia repo versions, you can't mark to uninstall them on synaptic without marking to uninstall also something like 300 other packages, which would leave your system just with bare-bones x-server or something. Even though most of these packages haven't been upgraded, so they theoretically couldn't depend on those new packages "for real".

And they don't. With some guesswork it's possible to uninstall manually the newly upgraded packages and reinstall the official versions, all with "dpkg -r <package> --ignore-depends <package>" magic.

This is NOT a "tutorial", this is reference for myself just in case I do something stupid again in the future, or in case I stumble in some collateral problem. Try anything at your own risk, don't blame me. There's even lots of commands that just gave error outputs, as I haven't cleaned it up yet. Downloading of packages via web-browser usually precedes a "dpkg -i", which requires a previously downloaded package.

Code:
00:09:01 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb 
Selecting previously unselected package libavcodec-extra-53:i386.
dpkg: regarding libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb containing libavcodec-extra-53:i386:
 libavcodec-extra-53:i386 breaks libavcodec53
  libavcodec53:i386 (version 7:0.10.3-dmo1) is present and installed.

dpkg: error processing libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb (--install):
 installing libavcodec-extra-53:i386 would break libavcodec53:i386, and
 deconfiguration is not permitted (--auto-deconfigure might help)
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb
01:16:38 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb --auto-deconfigure
dpkg: regarding libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb containing libavcodec-extra-53:i386:
 libavcodec-extra-53:i386 breaks libavcodec53
  libavcodec53:i386 (version 7:0.10.3-dmo1) is present and installed.

dpkg: error processing libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb (--install):
 installing libavcodec-extra-53:i386 would break libavcodec53:i386, and
 deconfiguration is not permitted (--auto-deconfigure might help)
dpkg: error processing --auto-deconfigure (--install):
 cannot access archive: No such file or directory
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb
 --auto-deconfigure
01:18:38 - root /home/d # dpkg --auto-deconfigure -i libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb
dpkg: considering deconfiguration of libavcodec53:i386, which would be broken by installation of libavcodec-extra-53:i386 ...
dpkg: yes, will deconfigure libavcodec53:i386 (broken by libavcodec-extra-53:i386)
dpkg: regarding libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb containing libavcodec-extra-53:i386:
 libavcodec54:i386 conflicts with libavcodec-extra-53
  libavcodec-extra-53:i386 (version 6:0.8.6-1) is to be installed.

dpkg: error processing libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb (--install):
 conflicting packages - not installing libavcodec-extra-53:i386
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb
01:18:58 - root /home/d # dpkg -r libavcodex54:i386
dpkg: warning: ignoring request to remove libavcodex54 which isn't installed
01:19:38 - root /home/d # dpkg -r libavcodec54:i386
dpkg: dependency problems prevent removal of libavcodec54:i386:
 vlc depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.4).
 libavformat54:i386 depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.0).
 libavfilter2:i386 depends on libavcodec54 (>= 7:0.11.2).
 libavfilter3:i386 depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.0).
 vlc-nox depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.4).
 libmlt5:i386 depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.2).
 libavdevice54:i386 depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.0).
 ffmpeg depends on libavcodec54 (>= 8:1.0.0).

dpkg: error processing libavcodec54:i386 (--remove):
 dependency problems - not removing
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavcodec54:i386
01:19:46 - root /home/d # dpkg -r --ignore-depends libavcodec54:i386
dpkg: error: --remove needs at least one package name argument

Type dpkg --help for help about installing and deinstalling packages[*];
Use `dselect' or `aptitude' for user-friendly package management;
Type dpkg -Dhelp for a list of dpkg debug flag values;
Type dpkg --force-help for a list of forcing options;
Type dpkg-deb --help for help about manipulating *.deb files;

Options marked[*] produce a lot of output - pipe it through `less' or `more' !
01:20:30 - root /home/d # dpkg --ignore-depends -r libavcodec54:i386
dpkg: error: --ignore-depends needs a valid package name but '-r' is not: illegal package name in specifier '-r': must start with an alphanumeric character
01:20:43 - root /home/d # dpkg --ignore-depends libavcodec54:i386 -r libavcodec54:i386
(Reading database ... 266993 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing libavcodec54:i386 ...
01:21:40 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb 
dpkg: regarding libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb containing libavcodec-extra-53:i386:
 libavcodec-extra-53:i386 breaks libavcodec53
  libavcodec53:i386 (version 7:0.10.3-dmo1) is present and installed.

dpkg: error processing libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb (--install):
 installing libavcodec-extra-53:i386 would break libavcodec53:i386, and
 deconfiguration is not permitted (--auto-deconfigure might help)
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb
01:21:52 - root /home/d # 
01:22:20 - root /home/d # 
01:22:20 - root /home/d # 
01:22:20 - root /home/d # dpkg --ignore-depends libavcodec53:i386 -r libavcodec53:i386
(Reading database ... 266985 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing libavcodec53:i386 ...
01:22:48 - root /home/d # 
01:22:48 - root /home/d # 
01:22:49 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb (Reading database ... 266978 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libavcodec-extra-53:i386 (from libavcodec-extra-53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb) ...
Setting up libavcodec-extra-53:i386 (6:0.8.6-1) ...
01:22:56 - root /home/d # apt-get download mplayer
Get:1 Downloading mplayer 2:1.0~rc4.dfsg1+svn34540-1+b2 [2,885 kB]
Fetched 2,885 kB in 24s (119 kB/s)                                             
01:29:00 - root /home/d # dpkg -i mplayer
dpkg: error processing mplayer (--install):
 cannot access archive: No such file or directory
Errors were encountered while processing:
 mplayer
01:29:07 - root /home/d # dpkg -i mplayer_1.0~rc4.dfsg1+svn34540-1+b2_i386.deb 
(Reading database ... 266988 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace mplayer 2:1.0~rc4.dfsg1+svn34540-1+b2 (using mplayer_1.0~rc4.dfsg1+svn34540-1+b2_i386.deb) ...
Unpacking replacement mplayer ...
Replaced by files in installed package mencoder ...
Setting up mplayer (2:1.0~rc4.dfsg1+svn34540-1+b2) ...
Processing triggers for mime-support ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
01:29:41 - root /home/d # 
01:30:20 - root /home/d # 
01:30:20 - root /home/d # dpkg --reconfigure mplayer
dpkg: error: unknown option --reconfigure

Type dpkg --help for help about installing and deinstalling packages[*];
Use `dselect' or `aptitude' for user-friendly package management;
Type dpkg -Dhelp for a list of dpkg debug flag values;
Type dpkg --force-help for a list of forcing options;
Type dpkg-deb --help for help about manipulating *.deb files;

Options marked[*] produce a lot of output - pipe it through `less' or `more' !
01:30:35 - root /home/d # dpkg-reconfigure mplayer
01:30:48 - root /home/d # dpkg-reconfigure libavcodec-extra-53
01:31:02 - root /home/d # dpkg-reconfigure mplayer
01:31:05 - root /home/d # 
01:32:31 - root /home/d # 
01:32:31 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb 
Selecting previously unselected package libavformat-extra-53.
dpkg: regarding libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb containing libavformat-extra-53:
 libavformat54:i386 conflicts with libavformat-extra-53
  libavformat-extra-53 (version 6:0.8.6-1) is to be installed.

dpkg: error processing libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb (--install):
 conflicting packages - not installing libavformat-extra-53
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb
01:32:39 - root /home/d # dpkg --ignore-depends libavformat54:i386 -r libavformat54:i386
(Reading database ... 266987 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing libavformat54:i386 ...
01:34:13 - root /home/d # 
01:34:13 - root /home/d # 
01:34:13 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb dpkg: regarding libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb containing libavformat-extra-53:
 libavformat53:i386 conflicts with libavformat-extra-53
  libavformat-extra-53 (version 6:0.8.6-1) is to be installed.

dpkg: error processing libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb (--install):
 conflicting packages - not installing libavformat-extra-53
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb
01:34:20 - root /home/d # dpkg --ignore-depends libavformat53:i386 -r libavformat53:i386
(Reading database ... 266979 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing libavformat53:i386 ...
01:34:36 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb (Reading database ... 266972 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libavformat-extra-53 (from libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb) ...
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of libavformat-extra-53:
 libavformat-extra-53 depends on libavformat53; however:
  Package libavformat53:i386 is not installed.

dpkg: error processing libavformat-extra-53 (--install):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:
 libavformat-extra-53
01:34:39 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavformat53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb 
Selecting previously unselected package libavformat53:i386.
dpkg: considering removing libavformat-extra-53 in favour of libavformat53:i386 ...
dpkg: libavformat-extra-53 is not properly installed; ignoring any dependencies on it
dpkg: yes, will remove libavformat-extra-53 in favour of libavformat53:i386
(Reading database ... 266977 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libavformat53:i386 (from libavformat53_0.8.6-1_i386.deb) ...
Setting up libavformat53:i386 (6:0.8.6-1) ...
01:36:05 - root /home/d # dpkg -i libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb 
Selecting previously unselected package libavformat-extra-53.
(Reading database ... 266983 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libavformat-extra-53 (from libavformat-extra-53_0.8.6-1_all.deb) ...
Setting up libavformat-extra-53 (6:0.8.6-1) ...
01:36:11 - root /home/d # dpkg-reconfigure mplayer

Mplayer and VLC were not playing .flv files before that, but I managed to make it work by repeating the same sort of process with one more package (libavutils50 or something). It doesn't do that alone though, I can't simply reinstall the official package normally, as there are still quite a few broken packages, something like 20. But these are more obviously only video/multimedia-related, and then I could mark to uninstall them all on synaptic, uninstall, then install only those again (mostly by virtue of simply being a dependency of something like VLC, no need to add them individually for the most part). For some reason sometimes I have to click on "apply" once, I'll receive some error message related with broken packages, but it will work when I click on apply for a second time, without changing anything.
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