aptly publish ERROR: unable to publish: unable to process packages: error linking file to

We’ve encountered the following error when issuing a publish command:

aptly@aptly-server:~$ aptly --config=/mnt/storage/aptly/.aptly.conf publish snapshot xenial-myrepo-initial ubuntu
Loading packages...
Generating metadata files and linking package files...
ERROR: unable to publish: unable to process packages: error linking file to /mnt/storage/aptly/.aptly/public/ubuntu/pool/main/s/sftpcloudfs/sftpcloudfs_0.12.2-2_all.deb: file already exists and is different

And the snapshot had failed to publish. Check if the file is “aptly:aptly” (or the user and group your installation uses) because if someone has executed commands from the user root it may create some files with the user root (or other) and after that, some commands could fail. In our case, the file was with the right user for aptly and the solution was to remove the file manually (i.e. it is safe to remove it!) it was created again by the setup in the right time. Then execute the publish command again:

aptly@aptly-server:~$ rm /mnt/storage/aptly/.aptly/public/ubuntu/pool/main/s/sftpcloudfs/sftpcloudfs_0.12.2-2_all.deb 
aptly@aptly-server:~$ aptly --config=/mnt/storage/aptly/.aptly.conf publish snapshot xenial-myrepo-initial ubuntu
Loading packages...
Generating metadata files and linking package files...
Finalizing metadata files...
Signing file 'Release' with gpg, please enter your passphrase when prompted:
Clearsigning file 'Release' with gpg, please enter your passphrase when prompted:

Snapshot xenial-myrepo-initial has been successfully published.
Please setup your webserver to serve directory '/mnt/storage/aptly/.aptly/public' with autoindexing.
Now you can add following line to apt sources:
  deb http://your-server/ubuntu/ xenial-myrepo main
  deb-src http://your-server/ubuntu/ xenial-myrepo main
Don't forget to add your GPG key to apt with apt-key.

You can also use `aptly serve` to publish your repositories over HTTP quickly.

Common mistakes to appear this error are

  • File permissions
  • File ownership. As mentioned above aptly command executed by other user (like root). Probably it is a good idea to chown recursively the whole aptly root directory
  • Inerrupting the publish command execution
  • Inerrupting the drop command execution

The solution is simple, just remove the offensive file(s) and execute the command again. It is safe to remove the file manually.

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