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I just ran apt-get upgrade on my debian 5 vps and I got this error:

tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'

Now when I try to install other packages e.g: imagemagick I get the same error:

li197-162:~# apt-get install imagemagick
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
  pkg-config comerr-dev libssh2-1-dev libpcre3-dev libdb4.6-dev libsqlite3-dev libmysqlclient15-dev libldap2-dev libpcrecpp0 libexpat1-dev libpq5 libidn11-dev
Use 'apt-get autoremove' to remove them.
The following extra packages will be installed:
  fontconfig-config imagemagick-common libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libglib2.0-0 libice6 libjasper1 libjpeg8 liblcms1 liblqr-1-0 libltdl7 libmagickcore4 libmagickwand4 libpng12-0 libsm6 libtiff4
  libx11-6 libx11-data libxau6 libxcb1 libxdmcp6 libxext6 libxml2 libxml2-dev libxt6 ttf-dejavu-core x11-common
Suggested packages:
  imagemagick-doc autotrace cups-bsd lpr lprng enscript ffmpeg gimp gnuplot grads hp2xx html2ps libwmf-bin mplayer povray radiance sane-utils texlive-base-bin transfig xdg-utils libjasper-runtime
  liblcms-utils
Recommended packages:
  libmagickcore4-extra ghostscript netpbm ufraw-batch libglib2.0-data shared-mime-info gsfonts xml-core
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  fontconfig-config imagemagick imagemagick-common libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libice6 libjasper1 libjpeg8 liblcms1 liblqr-1-0 libltdl7 libmagickcore4 libmagickwand4 libpng12-0 libsm6 libtiff4
  libx11-6 libx11-data libxau6 libxcb1 libxdmcp6 libxext6 libxt6 ttf-dejavu-core x11-common
The following packages will be upgraded:
  libglib2.0-0 libxml2 libxml2-dev
3 upgraded, 25 newly installed, 0 to remove and 190 not upgraded.
Need to get 0B/11.2MB of archives.
After this operation, 22.4MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
Preconfiguring packages ...
x11-common template parse error: Template parse error near `Choices-sr@latin.UTF-8: Samo glavni korisnik, Samo za korisnike konzole, Svako', in stanza #1 of /tmp/x11-common.template.65052

tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libfreetype6_2.4.6-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/ttf-dejavu-core_2.33-2_all.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/fontconfig-config_2.8.0-3_all.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libfontconfig1_2.8.0-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/x11-common_1%3a7.6+9_all.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libice6_2%3a1.0.7-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libpng12-0_1.2.46-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libsm6_2%3a1.2.0-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libjpeg8_8c-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libtiff4_3.9.5-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxau6_1%3a1.0.6-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxdmcp6_1%3a1.1.0-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxcb1_1.7-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libx11-data_2%3a1.4.4-2_all.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libx11-6_2%3a1.4.4-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxext6_2%3a1.3.0-3_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxt6_1%3a1.1.1-2_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxml2-dev_2.7.8.dfsg-4_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libxml2_2.7.8.dfsg-4_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libglib2.0-0_2.28.6-1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/liblcms1_1.19.dfsg-1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/liblqr-1-0_0.4.1-1.1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libltdl7_2.4-4_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libjasper1_1.900.1-10_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/imagemagick-common_8%3a6.6.9.7-5_all.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libmagickcore4_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/libmagickwand4_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
tar: unrecognized option `--warning=no-timestamp'
Try `tar --help' or `tar --usage' for more information.
dpkg-deb: error: subprocess tar returned error exit status 64
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/imagemagick_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
Errors were encountered while processing:
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libfreetype6_2.4.6-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/ttf-dejavu-core_2.33-2_all.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/fontconfig-config_2.8.0-3_all.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libfontconfig1_2.8.0-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/x11-common_1%3a7.6+9_all.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libice6_2%3a1.0.7-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libpng12-0_1.2.46-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libsm6_2%3a1.2.0-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libjpeg8_8c-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libtiff4_3.9.5-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxau6_1%3a1.0.6-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxdmcp6_1%3a1.1.0-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxcb1_1.7-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libx11-data_2%3a1.4.4-2_all.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libx11-6_2%3a1.4.4-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxext6_2%3a1.3.0-3_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxt6_1%3a1.1.1-2_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxml2-dev_2.7.8.dfsg-4_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libxml2_2.7.8.dfsg-4_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libglib2.0-0_2.28.6-1_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/liblcms1_1.19.dfsg-1_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/liblqr-1-0_0.4.1-1.1_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libltdl7_2.4-4_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libjasper1_1.900.1-10_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/imagemagick-common_8%3a6.6.9.7-5_all.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libmagickcore4_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/libmagickwand4_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb
 /var/cache/apt/archives/imagemagick_8%3a6.6.9.7-5+b1_i386.deb
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)
li197-162:~# 

I really have no idea what is wrong and how to fix this. Is it possible to undo an apt-get upgrade?

share|improve this question

migrated from serverfault.com Sep 28 '11 at 17:25

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

1  
what version does "apt-cache policy x11-common" list for "Candidate". I ask because I suspect that you might be upgrading a debian 5 (currently "oldstable") server using sources pointing at debian 6 (currently "stable"). –  stew Sep 28 '11 at 16:02

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I've just had exactly this problem. As Gilles suggested, upgrading tar is the answer but (surprise surprise) tar can't be upgraded in the usual way because dpkg requires version 1.23 or later before it'll unpack and install the latest tar deb. dpkg really needs an explicit dependency to ensure that when a later version of dpkg is installed, the latest tar version goes on first, but I guess it's a risk with combining different testing and unstable releases in unsupported ways. It's still undesirable and this seems an unfortunate way to cripple a system.

My first idea was to look for the latest binary of tar at the GNU project, but unfortunately they only have source downloads, which aren't helpful if (like me) you don't have the various compiling tools installed.

If you download the latest tar binary .deb to match your system from packages.debian.org and drop it into a temporary place somewhere (just to be tidy), you should be able to get inside it with the ar command, e.g. ar x tar_1.26-2_amd64.deb in my case.
Then unpack the resulting data.tar.gz file with a command like tar zxvf data.tar.gz, using your existing earlier version of tar, which should work as long as you don't try and do anything silly like use a --warning parameter that won't be available until version 1.23. :) This will then let you get at the tar binary, which (within the data.tar.gz file) was probably at bin/tar.
Having done this, I added the path for that binary to the front the PATH variable in my shell, which in my bash shell could be done with the command export PATH=/root/temp/bin:$PATH, but adjust the path to fit wherever the new tar binary is now sitting. After that, running a regular dpkg --install tar_1.26-2_amd64.deb worked wonders, because dpkg will look in the path and find the latest tar binary before it finds the older version in the regular bin path.

I hope this helps.

share|improve this answer
    
perfect thanks for your answer! –  DanielZ Oct 5 '11 at 17:27
    
Worked for me. For those that reach this page debugging installing Debian on an NSLU2, you need this .deb file: packages.debian.org/squeeze/armel/tar/download You can use another machine (mac okay) to do the "ar" bit above. I use curl to sync to my NSLU. Thanks again izogi. –  Mauvis Ledford Nov 13 '11 at 7:20

You may not need to worry about downloading the tar package.

Chances are, to get to this point because you were in the middle of an upgrade, and your package management system will have already downloaded the latest tar package for you, so it will be waiting for you in:

/var/cache/apt/archives/tar_(version-release_platform).deb

e.g.:

# ls -t /var/cache/apt/archives/tar_*|head -1

/var/cache/apt/archives/tar_1.26-4_amd64.deb

This is how I fixed my system:

Find the latest version on your system:

root@host:~# ls -t /var/cache/apt/archives/tar_*|head -1
/var/cache/apt/archives/tar_1.26-4_amd64.deb

Create a temporary working area and unpack the .deb archive:

root@host:~# mkdir fix_tar
root@host:~# cd fix_tar
root@host:~/fix_tar# ar x /var/cache/apt/archives/tar_1.26-4_amd64.deb

Unpack the data.tar.gz file to find the new tar binary:

root@host:~/fix_tar# ls -l
total 972
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2536 2012-02-03 12:20 control.tar.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 978996 2012-02-03 12:20 data.tar.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root      4 2012-02-03 12:20 debian-binary
root@host:~/fix_tar# tar xzf data.tar.gz
root@host:~/fix_tar# find * -name tar
bin/tar
usr/share/doc/tar
usr/lib/mime/packages/tar

Check the existing version on your system:

root@host:~/fix_tar# /bin/tar --version
tar (GNU tar) 1.20
Copyright (C) 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by John Gilmore and Jay Fenlason.

Backup the old version in case something goes horribly wrong and you need it back:

root@host:~/fix_tar# mv /bin/tar /bin/tar_1.20

Put the new copy in place:

root@host:~/fix_tar# mv ./bin/tar /bin/tar

Check the new version:

root@host:~/fix_tar# /bin/tar --version
tar (GNU tar) 1.26
Copyright (C) 2011 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by John Gilmore and Jay Fenlason.

You're done! :-)

I was then able to carry on with another:

root@host:~# aptitude update
root@host:~# aptitude safe-upgrade
share|improve this answer
    
Fantastic answer! –  mikewaters Feb 25 '12 at 0:05

I didn't have ar on my system, so I did this horrible kludge:

mv /bin/tar /bin/tar.real
echo "tar.real xpf -" >/bin/tar
chmod +x /bin/tar
cd /
# put in the correct path
dpkg-deb -x /var/cache/apt/archives/tar_1.26-4_armel.deb .
# check things are working and then
#rm /bin/tar.real
share|improve this answer
    
+1. I needed this question answered when an upgrade was badly broken enough that I had only an old ‘tar’ and no ‘ar’ at all. Thanks! –  bignose Mar 19 '12 at 21:16

Do you have the latest version of tar handy somewhere else (a different computer)?
If so, just scp it to /usr/local/bin, assuming /usr/local/bin precedes the regular tar in your command path. Then, you can upgrade:

apt-get install tar
share|improve this answer

Replacing tar with the new version which was available from /var/cache... totally worked for me. I'd spent a long time trying to figure out how to fix my debian squeeze install to allow me to install new packages after messing things up by tinkering with sources list and stupidly letting webmin attempt an upgrade (bad mistake). Thanks so much to the straight to the point answers from you guys.

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