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Bug#23871: tmp.ci not a directory

Package: dpkg

I'm not sure this is exactly a bug, but I have tried everything I can
think of and can't resolve the problem.

When I try to update a few packages with dselect, dpkg complains that
tmp.ci is not a directory and aborts installation of that package.  I
have successfully installed other packages since this error cropped up. 
For instance,

[previous stuff looks fine...]
>Preparing to replace login 961025-2 (using .../base/login_961025-2.1.deb) 
>Unpacking replacement login ...  
>dpkg: error processing debian/stable/binary-i386/base/login_961025-2.1.deb
> unable to install (supposed) new info file `/var/lib/dpkg/tmp.ci/': Not a
[does this for smail,lib5c and groff and then dies]

During the above process, /var/lib/dpkg/tmp.ci does indeed exist and is a
  drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 1024 Apr 25 09:26 tmp.ci/
it contains (at the largest I caught it):
  -rw-r--r-- 1 root root   83 Apr 25 09:25 conffiles
  -rw-r--r-- 1 root root  351 Apr 25 09:26 control
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1145 Apr 25 09:25 postinst*
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   84 Apr 25 09:25 postrm*
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  122 Apr 25 09:25 preinst* 
  -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   96 Apr 25 09:25 prerm*

I am using kernel 2.0.29 and the current stable version of Debian (except
for these packages, of course).

Thanks for any help.

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