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E: dpkg was interrupted, you must manually run 'dpkg --configure -a' to correct the problem.
E: _cache->open() failed, please report.
Turns out, this was an easy enough fix (sudo dpkg --configure -a for the benefit of any Google visitors who may be looking for a solution) and in fact the answer was provided in the error.
Here is my question:
(1) Why can't this happen without my input? I only have a vague idea what I did and I certainly wouldn't have tried anything else. This command line voodoo could have happened automagically without my even knowing, and my experience would have been maybe a ten second extra launch time, instead of a minor sense of foreboding!
(2) Failing that, could the process of finding a solution be more automated? By that, I mean maybe an error message that looks something like this:
I'd be curious to know why something like this couldn't be done?