Per the attached screenshot of htop, about five minutes after I log in to Mint Linux 17.3 it automatically starts a background process for /usr/bin/find, USER nobody, at which point that process consumes 84-percent to 100-percent of the (virtual machine's) CPU. (At that point I can tell without using htop that the process has been started because the system barely responds to user commands...)

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I tried using htop -> nice to set NI as high as 16 without apparent effect: The /usr/bin/find process continues to consume essentially all of the system's CPU cycles. The only way I've found to seize control back from this process is to KILL it.

I've searched for ways to manage this process so that it either (a) behaves nicely or (b) isn't started at all. The GUI tools I've tried don't list the runaway process. So I suspect there's a config file somewhere one must edit to make this process behave better but I don't know which file or what edits to apply.

  • look at /etc/cron.d/ or /etc/cron.daily/ – Ipor Sircer Dec 11 '16 at 22:53

This find process is running as part of the updatedb task, which updates the database for locate, a command to locate a file given (part of) its name. It is triggered by anacron, a service that runs scheduled tasks when the computer is turned on. Anacron complements cron, which runs tasks at a predefined time: the updatedb task would run every night if your computer was turned on, and anacron runs it if it didn't get a chance to run the last night.

Updatedb is the most demanding daily task. It runs with a lower I/O priority and a lower CPU priority (the lower CPU priority is what the 10 in the NI (nice) column means), but even so it can be disruptive. You can disable it altogether by.

sudo dpkg-divert --add --rename --local --divert /etc/cron.daily/locate.noauto /etc/cron.daily/locate

If you want to update the database, run sudo /etc/cron.daily/locate.noauto manually.

If you have /etc/cron.daily/mlocate, the same applies (it's a different implementation of locate; both can be installed on the same machine).

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