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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > Who is "nobody" (user) and what is "find" (process name)?

Who is "nobody" (user) and what is "find" (process name)?
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Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Mar 13, 2007, 01:29 PM
I've been noticing a lot of CPU activity while I'm not doing anything very CPU intensive (like reading a long PDF document). I checked Activity Monitor to see that the culprit is a process called "find" by a user called "nobody".

Anybody know who/what these are and what they're doing?

(by the way, I'm on an iBookG4 running OS 10.4.8)
Dedicated MacNNer
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Mar 13, 2007, 02:21 PM
User nobody is atleast generally used in Linux by system processes. It's a system user, meaning it has no login. Looking at /etc/passwd on my mac nobody is listed:

nobody:*:-2:-2:Unprivileged User:/:/usr/bin/false

The default shell is /usr/bin/false so the user can't log in.

Don't know about the process find, could it maby be spotlight updating it's database?
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Oct 2000
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Mar 13, 2007, 03:30 PM
Regarding nobody, Apple explains its existence here: An Introduction to Mac OS X Security

I think find is just a service the Unix layer uses. Don't worry about it unless it's sapping your performance.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
Mac Elite
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Mar 13, 2007, 05:23 PM
The system is doing maintenance on itself. It is rotating log files, flushing some caches, etc.

There are system scripts that are run daily, weekly, and monthly. One of the weekly or monthly ones is to rebuild the 'locate' database (locate is a UNIX executable which can find nearly any file on your system -- try opening a terminal window and typing something like locate pizza:

[quadzilla:~$] locate pizza
/Applications/Proteus.app/Contents/PlugIns/MSN Emoticons.emoticons/Contents/Resources/pizza.png
/Volumes/Backup/Applications/Proteus.app/Contents/PlugIns/MSN Emoticons.emoticons/Contents/Resources/pizza.png

I see that Proteus has an icon in it that must look like a pizza :-)

Anyway, rebuilding the locate database uses the UNIX 'find' command to do its work. It goes through all the file names on your system and stores info about it to make lookups very quickly. This needs to be updated every week or month so you get accurate results. In case you were wondering the UNIX find command has been around > 20 years, and has nothing to do with Spotlight so they don't share a database.

Let the process go -- this is normal and the Mac is *supposed* to run these tasks. Prior to 10.4, these processes were called 'cron jobs' and typically ran at night. Problem is, most people shut down or sleep their Macs at night, and UNIX systems need these things to run and do maintenance. When 10.4 shipped, these things were then updated to run via launchd, which will run them in the daytime if the system wasn't awake when they were *supposed* to run at night.
krx  (op)
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Mar 13, 2007, 06:51 PM
Very cool to know. You've put my mind to rest. Thanks, all!
Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Mar 17, 2007, 11:11 AM
awesome, my computer just did this, i thought "what the heck is this?!" my macbook was looking and acting like it had spyware or something. thanks for the info, it put my mind at ease and it stopped in about 2 or 3 minutes.
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