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I'm running the latest Debian (Stretch/9.3.x) and preparing my system to install the latest PHP. I removed all pre-installed PHP packages except php-common.

While invoking apt-get remove php-common I get the error as follows

Removing php-common (1:49) ...
Failed to stop phpsessionclean.timer: Unit phpsessionclean.timer not loaded.
dpkg: error processing package php-common (--remove):
 subprocess installed pre-removal script returned error exit status 5
/usr/bin/deb-systemd-helper: error: unable to read phpsessionclean.timer
Failed to get unit file state for phpsessionclean.timer: No such file or directory
phpsessionclean.timer is a disabled or a static unit, not starting it.
Errors were encountered while processing:
 php-common
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

After some digging I tried dpkg --purge php-common and get this one

Removing php-common (1:49) ...
Failed to stop phpsessionclean.timer: Unit phpsessionclean.timer not loaded.
dpkg: error processing package php-common (--purge):
 subprocess installed pre-removal script returned error exit status 5
/usr/bin/deb-systemd-helper: error: unable to read phpsessionclean.timer
Failed to get unit file state for phpsessionclean.timer: No such file or directory
phpsessionclean.timer is a disabled or a static unit, not starting it.
Errors were encountered while processing:
 php-common

In fact it's quiet the same.

dpkg --verify php-common

??5??????   /lib/systemd/system/phpsessionclean.service
??5??????   /lib/systemd/system/phpsessionclean.timer

These files are really missing. But currently I don't know how to solve this. There's no help with apt-get -f purge nor dpkg --remove --force-all.

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    Failed to stop phpsessionclean.service: Unit phpsessionclean.service not loaded. and Failed to disable unit: No such file or directory ... tried with phpsessionclean, phpsessionclean.service and phpsessionclean.timer ... --configure -a does not helped anyway. I think I'll try the latest live disc and do a c'n'p of the missing files. It may helps.
    – codekandis
    Jan 8, 2018 at 17:34
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    backup the /var/lib/dpkg/status file then edit it by removing the php-common entry with its description , run dpkg --configure -a then update your system , it is not a proper way but it can be helpful.
    – GAD3R
    Jan 8, 2018 at 17:43
  • lol ... I did, it worked, and after installing PHP 7.2 the package reappears while it's a dependency.
    – codekandis
    Jan 9, 2018 at 9:47

1 Answer 1

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As mentioned by @GAD3R I edited

/var/lib/dpkg/status

and removed the whole php-common entry.

Thereafter I run

dpkg --configure -a

The updates / (dist-)upgrades are running well now.


Edit (2018-01-09)

My purpose on wiping all default php-packages was to install PHP 7.2. While the php-common package is a dependency it was reinstalled but now the phpsessionclean.service works properly as well.


Edit (2018-01-09)

While digging in my system for other broken packages I found this article

https://raphaelhertzog.com/2011/02/21/debian-cleanup-tip-4-find-broken-packages-and-reinstall-them/

and reinstalled all found packages. But there was a package colord with a missing colord.service. So I did the same mentioned here and it worked like a charm.

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