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unstable system dies: apt-get dist-upgrade

Yesterday, 3 July (GMT+10) I attempted to resolve dependency problems 
for the dist-upgrade that I'd left running overnight.  My system
is now dead.  I have installed a new installation on a different 
filesystem, and am starting from scratch.  

I do these upgrades fairly often.  Sometimes I'll let it go a
month, or even two.  In general I have few real problems.  

Fairly often however I am harassed by messages from 
"install-info".  I have developed a standard operating 
procedure in these cases: edit the offending file (eg 
*.prerm or *postinst) and run "dpkg --configure".  I'm not 
happy of course, but this or some other similar procedure
*usually* (TM) takes care of these things.  

I have posted to these lists in the past my feeling about
this install-info.  Why should installation of documentation 
be the most common pediment to upgrades?  Rarely do I have
any other problem.  

I have begun to think it's time to reinstall.  I am sure there
is major cruft I am not taking care of.  After over perhaps two
years of incremental upgrades, one or two major partition shifts, 
it's time.  

Well, it happened.  I don't even know what.  I am embarrassed that
I cannot even relate to the list what messages I received.  After 
a number of vexing complaints from apt-get/dpkg, which I overcame
in the way I have described, as well as by "force-overwrite", etc.,
the system came to total loss.  

No keyboard input into login prompts.  Messages about init.  I think
that sysvinit might have been hosed.   I had to reinstall login a few 
weeks ago, to solve a somewhat similar problem.  THis is not the libpam
issue, as I had gotten through that one in an hour.  

I am reinstalling, but if I can figure this one out, I will save myself 
a month of work.  This was a well loaded system with lots of 
self-installed packages.  I am starting from potato, now have upgraded to

Does any of this mean anything to anyone?

Alan Davis

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