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As far as I know, kept back packages in Debian are shown in case package can not be upgraded with apt-get upgrade because upgrade requires to install new packages. Usually this can be fixed with apt-get dist-upgrade because this will install new packages if needed.

Now for some reason db5.1-util package is kept back despite the fact that I execute apt-get dist-upgrade:

root@server:~# apt-get dist-upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following packages have been kept back:
  db5.1-util
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
root@server:~# 

I even don't need the db5.1-util package because it satisfies dependencies for packages(partimage-server and db-upgrade-util) which I don't have installed:

root@server:~# apt-cache rdepends db5.1-util
db5.1-util
Reverse Depends:
  partimage-server
  db-upgrade-util
root@server:~# apt-cache policy db5.1-util partimage-server db-upgrade-util
db5.1-util:
  Installed: 5.1.29-5
  Candidate: 5.1.29-9
  Version table:
     5.1.29-9 0
        500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ stable/main i386 Packages
 *** 5.1.29-5 0
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
partimage-server:
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 0.6.8-3
  Version table:
     0.6.8-3 0
        500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ stable/main i386 Packages
db-upgrade-util:
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 5.3.0
  Version table:
     5.3.0 0
        500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ stable/main i386 Packages
root@server:~# 

Am I correct that db5.1-util is kept back because it replaces libdb5.1 which is required by python2.6 which I have installed? Output of apt-cache can be seen below:

root@server:~# apt-cache depends db5.1-util
db5.1-util
  Depends: libc6
  Breaks: libdb5.1
  Replaces: libdb5.1
root@server:~# apt-cache rdepends libdb5.1
libdb5.1
Reverse Depends:
  python2.6
  db5.1-util
  db5.1-util
  db5.1-util
root@server:~# apt-cache policy python2.6
python2.6:
  Installed: 2.6.8-1.1
  Candidate: 2.6.8-1.1
  Version table:
 *** 2.6.8-1.1 0
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
root@server:~# 

// output of apt-cache policy db5.1-util libdb5.1 libc6 can be seen below:

root@server:~# apt-cache policy db5.1-util libdb5.1 libc6
db5.1-util:
  Installed: 5.1.29-5
  Candidate: 5.1.29-9
  Version table:
     5.1.29-9 0
        500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ stable/main i386 Packages
 *** 5.1.29-5 0
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
libdb5.1:
  Installed: 5.1.29-5
  Candidate: 5.1.29-5
  Version table:
 *** 5.1.29-5 0
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
libc6:
  Installed: 2.19-18
  Candidate: 2.19-18
  Version table:
 *** 2.19-18 0
        500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ stable/main i386 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
root@server:~# 
  • 1
    What's the output of apt-cache policy db5.1-util partimage-server db-upgrade-util? – Braiam Aug 25 '15 at 15:11
  • @Braiam I improved my initial question. – Martin Aug 26 '15 at 8:44
  • I didn't notice this but you added the reverse dependencies, instead of the dependencies, add the output of apt-cache depends db5.1-util instead. – Braiam Aug 26 '15 at 14:18
  • @Braiam Added. I also once again improved the initial question. – Martin Aug 26 '15 at 15:36
  • Ok, now replace the output of apt-cache policy db5.1-util partimage-server db-upgrade-util that you added first, with the output of apt-cache policy db5.1-util libdb5.1 libc6. – Braiam Aug 26 '15 at 16:24
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Had the same problem while doing a Jessie apt upgrade (in preparation for a dist-upgrade).

The solution was to simply

apt-get remove db5.1-util

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