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Old 11-15-2010, 07:06 AM   #1
Registered: Nov 2007
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Distribution: Debian Stable, Debian Testing
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Debian Squeeze - apt-get running by itself in the background


I am running Debian Squeeze, apt-get update runs by itself in the background, taking up 100% of one of the two processor cores.

I have kept the system updated.

heres the output of
ps -ef|grep apt-get
root     11719  3366 98 11:48 ?        05:42:50 apt-get -qq -y update
user     23270 23233  0 17:35 pts/1    00:00:00 grep apt-get
I have noticed this a couple of times now, i can kill the process and it doesn't show up again ( i haven't noticed it showing up till next reboot).

I don't have update manager to set to automatically install anything, I have set it to "Only notify about available updates".

thanks in advance

Last edited by austinium; 11-15-2010 at 07:09 AM.
Old 11-15-2010, 07:12 AM   #2
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If you want to disable update notification:

Applications-> Add/Remove -> Preferences -> Updates Tab

From here you can turn off notification (untick the box next to "Check for updates ever...") or change the type of notification. Choose between Automatic Security updates, automatic downloading, notification only--download/install when you say so.

You can also choose which types of updates (backports, security, etc)
Old 11-15-2010, 12:12 PM   #3
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Better to get rid of update manager and notifier:

aptitude purge update-manager update-notifier
And run your updates via the terminal

aptitude update && aptitude safe-upgrade

Last edited by cynwulf; 11-15-2010 at 12:13 PM.
Old 11-15-2010, 11:10 PM   #4
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Could this be a bug with the update manager?

I do use the Update Manager, its pretty handy. Thank you Caravel for the command line options and thank you prayag for the information.
Old 11-16-2010, 07:07 AM   #5
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I have never seen apt-get making updates by itself. What it does it is to update the package lists, it doesnt really upgrade anything. The process is cpu-consuming, but it stops after updating the lists.
I assume it is somewhere in the automated cronjobs that are not part of the update-managers stuff.
Old 11-17-2010, 02:23 PM   #6
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I'm having the exact same problem with a fresh Squeeze install

Just installed Squeeze using first CD (from a couple weeks ago), and specifying a mirror during install. After booting into the new install, I:

* added myself to sudoers using visudo
* sudo aptitude install gnome-do - this completed fine and gnome-do works.
* about an hour later I came back and tried to sudo aptitude update and this is when the error first popped up.

I searched my processes and find the same apt-get -qq -y update as the OP noted. But also I see that there is a daily apt cron job running, confirming gradinaruvasile's comment:

tblack@tblackld:~$ ps -ef | grep apt
root 1974 1970 0 08:05 ? 00:00:00 /bin/sh /etc/cron.daily/apt
root 2014 1974 99 08:23 ? 02:24:35 apt-get -qq -y update
root 2017 2014 0 08:23 ? 00:00:00 /usr/lib/apt/methods/http
root 2018 2014 0 08:23 ? 00:00:00 /usr/lib/apt/methods/http
root 2019 2014 0 08:23 ? 00:00:00 /usr/lib/apt/methods/cdrom
root 2022 2014 0 08:23 ? 00:00:00 /usr/lib/apt/methods/gpgv
tblack 2615 2222 0 10:49 pts/0 00:00:00 grep apt

So, this is a cron job, and it appears to be either taking a ridiculous amount of time to complete, or it is blocked in the background for some reason unbeknownst to us bc the cron script runs apt-get in quiet mode.

I have installed from the same CD onto another machine and didn't have this problem. Not sure what's going on. My software sources look like this:

tblack@tblackld:~$ cat /etc/apt/sources.list
# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux testing _Squeeze_ - Official Snapshot i386 CD Binary-1 20101018-04:31]/ squeeze main

deb squeeze main
deb-src squeeze main

deb squeeze/updates main
deb-src squeeze/updates main

and my network connection is working and I can ping and

It's been running for a total of about 6 hours so far. After a few hours, I rebooted the machine, only to find the apt-get job running silently in the background again after about 30 minutes. I am going to give it another hour or so to complete and then I'll kill it.

Let me know if you have any ideas.

...oh, I had one. So I looked in the apt log and found a list of apt operations, many of which occurred during the time I was installing Squeeze. At the end of the list was the "Install: gnome-do" operation. All operations have a Start-Date and an End-Date, so I won't feel so bad killing the current apt-get cron job.
Old 11-17-2010, 02:33 PM   #7
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But why don't you just delete the cron-job itself, instead of killing apt-get update every time?
Old 11-17-2010, 07:00 PM   #8
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So far, it doesn't happen repeatedly for me. Just the once. But I've only been paying attention for one day. I'm going to wait and see if the cron job hangs again tomorrow.
Old 11-22-2010, 12:51 AM   #9
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I removed the apt cron job. like in timblack's case apt would go on running in the background till its killed manually.
Old 11-23-2010, 12:33 PM   #10
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I never removed the cron job, and have had no more problems with hanging apt-get processes. It was only a problem for the first 2 days after a fresh install...


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