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dpkg: unrecoverable fatal error, aborting

Today, I was upgrading my Ubuntu virtual machine, when I got the following error:

dpkg: unrecoverable fatal error: aborting:
fork failed: Cannot allocate memory
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (2)

My suspect fell on the very small size of my dedicated ram: just 768 MB.

I resized my virtualmachine, and then with gparted I resized the swap memory.

Running again

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

everything was fine without further problems.

However, I suggest you to increase the amount of dedicated ram from the virtualbox settings. That might be enough, and you probably don’t need anything more to upgrade your linux virtualbox system.


Published by Francesco Serafin

I am a PhD student at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Trento. My two greatest loves: Computer Science and Water (take three with my Lenovo!:D). As a result, the aim of my life is to make both passions coexist. My gpg public key available at

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