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(similar to the question Uninstalling default VBoxGuestAdditions on Debian but a Ubuntu install, and the solution there isn't working for me?)

and really the issue seems to be with dpkg/apt-get not virtualbox or its linux guest additions:

host:/media/VBOXADDITIONS_4.2.10_84104$ dpkg -l | grep virtualbox
rc  virtualbox-guest-utils                 4.1.12-dfsg-2ubuntu0.2                  x86 virtualization solution - non-X11 guest utilities
rc  virtualbox-guest-x11                   4.1.12-dfsg-2ubuntu0.2                  x86 virtualization solution - X11 guest utilities
host:/media/VBOXADDITIONS_4.2.10_84104$ sudo apt-get remove virtualbox-guest-utils virtualbox-guest-x11
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Package virtualbox-guest-utils is not installed, so not removed


Package virtualbox-guest-x11 is not installed, so not removed
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 20 not upgraded.
host:/media/VBOXADDITIONS_4.2.10_84104$ sudo sh ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run 
Verifying archive integrity... All good.
Uncompressing VirtualBox 4.2.10 Guest Additions for Linux..........
VirtualBox Guest Additions installer
You appear to have a version of the VBoxGuestAdditions software
on your system which was installed from a different source or using a
different type of installer.  If you installed it from a package from your
Linux distribution or if it is a default part of the system then we strongly
recommend that you cancel this installation and remove it properly before
installing this version.  If this is simply an older or a damaged
installation you may safely proceed.

Do you wish to continue anyway? [yes or no]
no

Cancelling installation.

so dpkg sees the virtualbox-guest-utils and virtualbox-guest-x11 but apt-get can't remove them?!

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

rc virtualbox-guest-utils 4.1.12-dfsg-2ubuntu0.2

The first two flags in this output tell you exactly what is going on:

The 'r' means the package is in remove state. It's still technically installed, but most of it is actually gone.

The 'c' means that the configuration files are still installed.

Read man dpkg-query for more information if you're interested.

This state (rc) is common - pretty much any time you remove a package with configuration files, it'll end up in this state.

To fix it, use the --purge option to either dpkg or apt-get remove to clean these entries up.

share|improve this answer
    
bingo bango! thanks so much Daniel, that did it. – rikb Mar 21 '13 at 5:19

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