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High CPU Load: Why is update-apt-xapi starting itself?

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Linux users may have come across strange entries in their Process Tables displaying extremely high processor load and system resources usage for a process called update-apt-xapi. In case you’re one of them, and you see this happening on your machine too, you may be wondering what’s going on inside the system.

What Is the update-apt-xapi Process?

What Is update-apt-xapi, and why or how does this process start itself?

That process seems to kick off and consume 100% of the CPU. There is no manual page for it. People often assume it is something to do with the apt database.

Most frequently, this system behavior is observed on Ubuntu Linux systems running some graphical user interface or other.

Which Systems, Which Flavor of Linux

In fact, this behavior is not limited to Ubuntu linux but rather can be seen on any type of Debian-based system, for example Linux Mint (no matter which GUI is used), throughout all versions of the very wideliy used Ubuntu systems, or Debian Linux (pure style, that is).

Is that normal?

When update-apt-xapi is running, CPU usage stays at 100% (for about a couple of minutes). Users are wondering wjhether or not that is normal.

The update-apt-xapian-index command’s purpose is to trigger an update of the Debian-typical apt or A Package Tool and index of installed software packages.

Users are often worrying whether such high CPU usage for a couple of minutes is acceptable or if this system behavior could actually cause hardware damage. Also if it could be harmful, what precaution could be taken by any non-technically proficient user or by a contractor hired to solve this?


The process and its high CPU load are completely harmless.

Other than potentially slowing down your system during the minutes the process runs, there is no risk or harm to your system. You may still be offended by the process slowing down your system significantly or you may still be annoyed by this process for any reason and want to get rid of it in order to free your system resources.

If it were to go on and on and on, you could run:

sudo killall update-apt-xapian-index

to save your CPU from frying, but again this could only be a risk when your system has bad cooling. This may happen with faulty fans, poorly designed low-cost laptops, faulty custom-builds, or in rare circumstances worn out or defective cooling measures (including faulty fans, as mentioned above).

To answer whether this is “acceptable”: it is not really acceptable so much as it is not what is ideal, but it is okay in the sense that it does not stay going for long enough to cause damage.


When this program is running, stop doing what ever it is you are doing on the computer at the time unless it is critical or important, and if you have the CPU-frequency indicator, set it to performance for the moment, and let the application run through its paces. This way, it will finish faster, and your system will be smoother to use when it’s over (because of less of a lock on the resources).

Could only be solved satisfactorily with:

apt-get purge apt-xapian-index

This removes the annoying program from the system and prevents your desktop or laptop computer from starting to use 100% CPU and hard drives again.

Listing some alternatives to the package removal solution.

You can make /etc/cron.weekly/apt-xapian-index-update non-executable:

chmod a-x /etc/cron.weekly/apt-xapian-index-update

Alternatively, edit that script to pass the parameter –update to the update-apt-xapian-index command, so that it will update the index rather than rebuilding it. (For example, on Ubuntu, replace the parts $CMD --quiet with $CMD --update --quiet).

Note that removing the package (or preventing its execution) will not break the system, but it will slow down searches in Synaptic and APT.