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"Software Update" seems to take a long time. What's it doing?

Utilities -> Activity Monitor yields:

  • CPU usage low ( 1% - 2% ) by the "Software Update" process.
  • + network traffic inbound,

[picture of Network activity after starting "Software Update"] Network activity from Activity Monitor

[Network activity after ~30 seconds to ~90 seconds] enter image description here

[Network activity after ~90 seconds]
enter image description here

*note: pictures modified to remove "Data received: [total] and Data Sent:[total]". Network activity recorded after shutting down all other applications.

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It's impossible to objectively answer this question. – Philip Regan Apr 15 '11 at 20:16
I disagree. Answers might include: "the duration depends on the available network speed." or "the duration depends on the how quickly servers determine the necessary updates." Would you suggest re-phrasing, such as "What is 'software update' doing when 'checking for new software?'" – jpwco Apr 15 '11 at 20:55
It would be a lot of guesswork, likely it is waiting for a response from the update server on if there are any updates, I see behavior similar to this on networks with redirected dns records for the apple update server, where it never responds. – ConstantineK Apr 15 '11 at 21:07
I think that one could answer this objectively. For example, someone could use some of the command line 'snoop' utilities to find out what SO is doing, or someone might know more about exactly what SO does than the rest of us. Of course, please make sure that all answers are factual; speculation probably isn't useful. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 15 '11 at 21:14
@Nathan: iI'll concede that it may not be impossible, but it will certainly be difficult, so much so that I think there will be more speculative answers than worth the trouble of finding out what's going on. Seeing as how this question is about guessing then behavior of Apple software, and therefore Apple policy which we consistently close, I really don't see what change will be affected by lgeaving this open. It's not as though Apple is going to improve their software as a result of this. I don't see this question as having much benefit to the community at large. – Philip Regan Apr 15 '11 at 22:03

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