I installed some software yesterday and went home and had the laptop on the bed. It has a bad power cord and no battery, I moved and the lappy turned off in the middle of reading the dist files.
Now synaptic will start but locks up. I tried doing a synaptic upgrade-at-startup but the connection here at the library seems to be poor today and it won't download the package files.
I also tried doing an apt-get update with no success.
It seems that synaptic itself is broken too, as I can't kill it or close it, and have to shut the computer off.
Running LXDE 2010.
Neal, would have posted it here except I thought it a more general question than an LXDE question, sorry.
This fixed the problem:
[root@localhost ~]# rm -f /var/lib/rpm/__db.*
which removes the old data base, then;
[root@localhost ~]# rpm -vv --rebuilddb