Unable to install docker - invoke-rc.d: initscript docker, action “start” failed

Currently unable to install docker on Ubuntu 16.04. (when I have been able to previously). After running sudo apt-get install docker-ce (as per here) I get the following message:

Job for docker.service failed because the control process exited with error code. See “systemctl status docker.service” and “journalctl -xe” for details.
invoke-rc.d: initscript docker, action “start” failed.
docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; >vendor preset: enabled)
Drop-In: /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d └─10-machine.conf
Active: activating (auto-restart) (Result: exit-code) since Thu 2017-09-07 21:44:50 BST; 3ms ago Docs: https://docs.docker.com
Process: 15332 ExecStart=/usr/bin/docker daemon -H tcp:// -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock --storage-driver aufs --tlsverify --tlscacert /etc/docker/ca.pem --tlscert /etc/docker/server.pem --tlskey /etc/docker/server-key.pem --label provider=generic (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE) Main PID: 15332 (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)

systemctl status docker.service does not really give anymore detail. journalctl -xe shows the following (summary):

Sep 07 21:56:45 mpt systemd1: Starting Docker Socket for the API.
Sep 07 21:56:45 mpt systemd1: Listening on Docker Socket for the API.
Sep 07 21:56:45 mpt systemd1: docker.service: Start request repeated too quickly.
Sep 07 21:56:45 mpt systemd1: Failed to start Docker Application Container Engine.
The result is failed. Sep 07 21:56:45 mpt systemd1: docker.socket: Unit entered failed state. Sep 07 21:56:46 mpt sudo[16052]: pam_unix(sudo:session): session closed for user root

When I run apt-get install again I get this message:

1 not fully installed or removed.1

(In addition to the error I previously mentioned.)

The solution to that was:

sudo apt-get remove docker*
sudo apt-get autoclean
sudo apt autoremove

I had been trying to get to docker-machine to work (without success) from my laptop (Ubuntu 16.04) to this machine so I guess this could have caused some issue.

I’m a bit stuck. Any help and suggestions really appreciated.


I noticed the following files in /etc/systemd/system/

Removing these, in addition to the removal commands mentioned above resulted in the error going away.

In my case, I had kernel version greater than 3.10.0. But seems, the remnants from an older installation was preventing me from installing. So I had to remove, purge and then delete the following before installing again.

In my case, I’ve manually updated WSL to 1.2 after update of Windows 10 from 21H2 to 22H2.
Docker stopped working, service would fail with exit code.


sudo apt-get remove docker*
sudo apt-get remove docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io docker-buildx-plugin docker-compose-plugin
sudo apt-get autoclean
sudo apt autoremove

then remove:


After that install per Ubuntu Docker guide succeeded and docker is working again.