Can't clean a full /boot because of unmet dependencies

I got an error message explaining my /boot is full. trying to clean up old image files always seems to fail because of disk full errors or dependency errors. Could someone explain where I’m going wrong.

$ sudo apt-get autoremove
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
You might want to run ‘apt-get -f install’ to correct these.
The following packages have unmet dependencies.
 linux-image-extra-3.13.0-44-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-44-generic but it is not installed
 linux-image-extra-3.13.0-45-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-45-generic but it is not installed
 linux-image-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-45-generic but it is not installed
E: Unmet dependencies. Try using -f.

$ ls /boot
abi-3.13.0-32-generic         initrd.img-3.13.0-43-generic
abi-3.13.0-36-generic         lost+found
abi-3.13.0-37-generic         memtest86+.bin
abi-3.13.0-39-generic         memtest86+.elf
abi-3.13.0-40-generic         memtest86+_multiboot.bin
abi-3.13.0-43-generic         System.map-3.13.0-32-generic
config-3.13.0-32-generic      System.map-3.13.0-36-generic
config-3.13.0-36-generic      System.map-3.13.0-37-generic
config-3.13.0-37-generic      System.map-3.13.0-39-generic
config-3.13.0-39-generic      System.map-3.13.0-40-generic
config-3.13.0-40-generic      System.map-3.13.0-43-generic
config-3.13.0-43-generic      vmlinuz-3.13.0-32-generic
grub                          vmlinuz-3.13.0-36-generic
initrd.img-3.13.0-32-generic  vmlinuz-3.13.0-37-generic
initrd.img-3.13.0-36-generic  vmlinuz-3.13.0-39-generic
initrd.img-3.13.0-37-generic  vmlinuz-3.13.0-40-generic
initrd.img-3.13.0-39-generic  vmlinuz-3.13.0-43-generic
initrd.img-3.13.0-40-generic

I used

kernelver=$(uname -r | sed -r 's/-[a-z]+//')
dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/ii/{print $2}' | grep -ve $kernelver

to get

linux-headers-3.13.0-32
linux-headers-3.13.0-32-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-36
linux-headers-3.13.0-36-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-37
linux-headers-3.13.0-37-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-39
linux-headers-3.13.0-39-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-40
linux-headers-3.13.0-40-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-44
linux-headers-3.13.0-44-generic
linux-headers-3.13.0-45
linux-headers-3.13.0-45-generic
linux-image-3.13.0-32-generic
linux-image-3.13.0-36-generic
linux-image-3.13.0-37-generic
linux-image-3.13.0-39-generic
linux-image-3.13.0-40-generic

Then picking the first image to remove

$ sudo apt-get purge linux-image-3.13.0-32-generic
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
You might want to run 'apt-get -f install' to correct these:
The following packages have unmet dependencies.
 linux-image-extra-3.13.0-32-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-32-generic but it is not going to be installed
 linux-image-extra-3.13.0-44-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-44-generic but it is not going to be installed
 linux-image-extra-3.13.0-45-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-45-generic but it is not going to be installed
 linux-image-generic : Depends: linux-image-3.13.0-45-generic but it is not going to be installed
E: Unmet dependencies. Try 'apt-get -f install' with no packages (or specify a solution).
Asked By: Philip Howard

||

In such case I would use the dpkg tool to force the removal of some kernel packages.
This is not suggested for common use and is a bit dangerous, but in such case with unmet dependencies might help.

First of all locate the kernel in which the system is booted. The one that is currently loaded. Open a terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) and issue the following command

uname -r

It will show you the loaded kernel, you should NOT try to remove this one.

Then issue the command

ls /boot 

it will return all the installed images. Pick one or two and try to remove them. Try to force remove/purge them.
For example

sudo dpkg --force-all -P linux-image-3.13.0-32-generic

You can do the same for other images, in order to free up some space.

Then you can try to install the missing packages, or

sudo apt-get install -f 

to try resolve the dependencies.

Finally, issue the “cleanup old kernels” command

 sudo apt-get purge $(dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/ii/{print $2}' | grep -ve "$(uname -r | sed -r 's/-[a-z]+//')")

Above command will remove ALL the kernels except the one that is currently loaded.

Because you have a separate /boot partition, keep in mind you will need to track its space and cleaning up often (the frequency depends on the space of /boot)

Answered By: NickTux

This is what worked for me on Ubuntu 16.04.

sudo apt autoremove --purge
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt-get -f install
sudo apt-get upgrade
Answered By: msa

List all kernels:

dpkg --list 'linux-image*'

Display current kernel:

uname -r

List all kernels EXCEPT current one:

dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/^ii/{ print $2}' | grep -v -e `uname -r | cut -f1,2 -d"-"` | grep -e '[0-9]'

Make sure your current kernel isn’t on that list.

Remove all kernels EXCEPT current one:

dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/^ii/{ print $2}' | grep -v -e `uname -r | cut -f1,2 -d"-"` | grep -e '[0-9]' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge

Clear other stuff:

sudo apt-get autoremove

If it stills throws any error then repeat following commands to remove unwanted kernels,

sudo dpkg --purge linux-image-X.X.X-XXX-generic linux-image-extra-X.X.X-XXX-generic linux-signed-image-X.X.X-XXX-generic
sudo dpkg --purge linux-image-Y.Y.Y-YYY-generic linux-image-extra-Y.Y.Y-YYY-generic linux-signed-image-Y.Y.Y-YYY-generic

sudo apt-get -f install

dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/^ii/{ print $2}' | grep -v -e `uname -r | cut -f1,2 -d"-"` | grep -e '[0-9]' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge
Answered By: Hemant Thorat

In case you are working with unattended updates this issue will re-occur and you might want to fix it for good.

As described in the RemoveOldKernels page on the Ubuntu Community wiki, you can configure your unattended upgrades to automatically remove old kernels by adding the following line to your unattended update config file:

Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Dependencies "true";

Important: make sure you really want this, because as stated in the wiki:

It also removes other unneeded packages, as well, which is or is not what you want.

Answered By: nehtor.t