Personally I have never been hit by the problem which you report.
The only other thread related to the same kind of problem seems to be this one: Mintupdate's windows do not open
I assume that you have rebooted the machine when the problem occurred. - Sometimes a reboot mysteriously
fixes problems. - No mystery involved really, just people never bother to find out was changed by rebooting.
Have you gone through the process list and checked whether more than one instance of mintUpdate.py was running and more than one set of the numerous child processes that it likes to spawn?
(This is an example where a reboot might fix such a situation, because a reboot will terminate all processes.)
The easiest way of finding all loaded instances of mintUpdate.py is by using a graphical process manager. On Cinnamon and XFCE desktops we have got "gnome-system-monitor". No idea how the corresponding graphical process manager on KDE is called.
You can configure gnome-system-monitor to display "all processes" and their dependencies. Then gnome-system-monitor will display process names in the form of a process tree.
This is pretty handy if you want to find all instances of mintUpdate and all the child processes mintUpdate may have spawned.
Of course it is feasible to determine their names and their PIDs with the help of "ps axu" as well. But it is definitely less convenient.
Anyway, the idea is to terminate all mintUpdate processes and their children and all synaptic processes and their children as well. - Doing so will require root privileges in most cases.
Next I would launch mintUpdate from the menu. This should make sure that only once instance is running.
Have you tried this?
--- Potential Workaround ---
mintUpdate is only a wrapper around Synaptic. As a consequence you can use Synaptic in order to do whatever you do with mintUpdate as well.
Would be interesting to know whether Synaptic will exhibit similar problems as mintUpdate.
(Again before trying I would make sure that no mintUpdate or Synaptic has already been loaded into memory.)
--- Further Steps ---
If the suggested tests, reboot, make sure no minUpdate is running, launch it from the menu, same procedure for Synaptic, do not help solve the problem, in this case it will be inevitable to try and find out what the root cause is: is it inside mintUpdate or as the posted error message suggests is it inside the X software?
Therefore the output the following command might be a good starting point:
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