I'm running Debian Wheezy on a computer with ATI / AMD graphics and no Nvidia hardware. A week ago, with no obvious cause, apt decided that it needs to configure Nvidia graphics any time it runs, causing erratic behavior and failures during updates.

The apt log (relevant portion shown below), lists various failures revolving around an Nvidia kernel (nvidia-kernel-amd64 and its dependency, nvidia-kernel-3.2.0-4-amd64). It looks like it thinks the Linux kernel isn't configured, so it is unable to configure the Nvidia kernel. Note that this is on a system that's been running for over a year on Debian and no hardware has been changed.


The system runs normally, despite these reported errors.

  • Even stranger, it thinks it needs to configure something that isn't even there. Neither of those is listed in Apper as being installed.
  • Though not installed, there are some artifacts in various folders on the drive. The Nvidia kernel is non-free, so it is not a standard part of the base Debian distribution and should not contain anything required for Debian to work. My Debian installation is actually a Wheezy spin that came bundled with an array of free and non-free drivers and software, so that may well have been the source of the artifacts.
  • Checking the system (via lspci) verifies that the system correctly recognizes the ATI graphics and doesn't see any Nvidia hardware, and the correct (radeon) driver is being used. There is no apparent reason why any action should occur involving Nvidia.
  • As an experiment, I attempted to see if I could install and then uninstall nvidia-kernel-amd64 and nvidia-kernel-3.2.0-4-amd64 on the chance that the process might clean up some potentially corrupted or incomplete prior installation. Apper went through the download, prepare, and install steps for both, then added installation of linux-image-3.2.0-4-amd64 to the list, which failed (same issue as shown here). When I reopened Apper, the two Nvidia packages were still showing as uninstalled, and the problem persists.
  • well, its part of the non-free driver, so I would be suprised if it was installed by default by the distro maintainers. packages.debian.org/wheezy/nvidia-kernel-3.2.0-4-amd64 – Frank Thomas Jun 10 '16 at 8:16
  • @FrankThomas, thanks for the response. It is actually Kwheezy that's installed. It's a Wheezy/KDE spin-off that added every conceivable driver and a huge software bundle, all pre-configured to work out-of-the box for newbies from Windows. It's been flawless until a week ago. I was one of those newbies, and I'm still pretty green. It sounds like I should be able to simply uninstall the Nvidia stuff. Any words of wisdom to be aware of? – fixer1234 Jun 10 '16 at 8:31

This was an off-the-wall problem that made no sense, other than something being corrupted. Apt has some built-in cleanup tools, which I tried:

apt-get check

This command is a diagnostic tool. It does an update of the package lists and checks for broken dependencies.

apt-get -f install

This command fixes broken packages when you get complaints about "unmet dependencies".

Neither helped. Since neither of the Nvidia packages is needed on the system, I used:

apt-get remove <package_name>

This command removes an installed package (this couldn't be done in Apper because the system didn't think these were even installed).

The messages about problems trying to configure Nvidia disappeared.

Unfortunately, it turns out this was just an unexplainable artifact of another problem, an issue with the Linux kernel. The basic problem with updates still occurs, only now it doesn't use Nvidia as an excuse. Since this revealed a different underlying problem, I'll put that in a new question.

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