Rebuilding corrupted RPM database on a CentOS/RHEL

last updated in Categories Howto, RedHat/Fedora Linux, Troubleshooting

One of our clients reported that he is getting an error and RPM database is corrupted. He is using Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Sometime it is possible to fix RPM database errors. I am surprised that many Linux admins do not make back up of RPM DB (/var/lib/rpm). Anyways if you ever messed up with RPM database, here is a quick guide to fix it (you must have rpmdb tools installed). This page shows how to rebuild RPM database on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux system or CentOS Community Enterprise Linux or Oracle Linux system or Scientific Linux.


Typical error message you get from rpm/yum

You might something as follows:

rpm command terminates with “cannot open Packages database in /var/lib/rpm”


rpmdb: Lock table is out of available locker entries


rpmdb: /var/lib/rpm/Packages: unexpected file type or format
error: cannot open Packages index using db3 – Invalid argument (22)


error: rpmdbNextIterator: skipping h# 1601 Header V4 RSA/SHA1 signature: BAD, key ID 2142eef7

Rebuilding corrupted RPM database on a CentOS/RHEL

Rebuilding corrupted RPM database on a CentOS/RHEL
Take system to single user mode to avoid further damage and to make backup/restore process easy:
# init 1 # [ DO NOT RUN on remote system ]

Method # 1

Let us verify integrity of the packages file. Make a backup of /var/lib/rpm/:
# mkdir -vp /backups/rpm/
# cp -avr /var/lib/rpm/* /backups/rpm/

Remove /var/lib/rpm/__db* files to avoid stale locks using rpm command:
# cd /var/lib/rpm/
# rm -vf __db*

Rebuild RPM database:
# rpm --rebuilddb -vv
# rpmdb_verify Packages

Method # 2

If you are still getting errors, then try your luck with following commands:

# mv Packages Packages-BAKUP
# db_dump Packages-BAKUP | db_load Packages
# rpm -qa
# rpm --rebuilddb

Further reading

  • rpm command – rpm is a powerful Package Manager for Linux. Often used to build, install, query, verify, update, and erase individual software packages
  • yum command – yum is an interactive, rpm based, package manager. It can automatically perform system updates, including dependency analysis and obsolete processing based on “repository” metadata. It can also perform installation of new packages, removal of old packages and perform queries on the installed and/or available packages.
  • I recommend all of you visiting Daniel Berrange excellent guide for more information.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.


16 comment

  1. Method 2 does not work, as the db_load and db_dump commands were not found. Needless to say if what came before worked I wouldn’t have gotten to 2.

  2. whereis db_dump db_load
    db_dump: /usr/bin/db_dump
    db_load: /usr/bin/db_load

    These utilities get installed by default using db4-utils package. Above instructions are tested on Fedora Core and RHEL 4 only.

  3. I found the same post/solution before in nixcraft and it is really a great solution but my question is how to recreate /var/lib/Packages if the original got “DELETED”.

  4. Thanks for a great site. It’s a fantastic resource for the sysadmin community.
    The code in Method 1 should be “cd /var/lib/rpm” rather than “cd /var/lib”. Please fix? 🙂

  5. remove that init 1 command from above, it will take the remote machine off network .. and someone from DC or physically reboot the server.

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