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Capillary discharge experiments were carried out for soft X-ray laser studies. A ceramic capillary, which has an inner diameter of 3 mm and a length of 150 mm, has been used for the end-on X-ray diode observation, and a Pyrex capillary has been used for side-view observation. Spike output has been observed, when operating the device with a predischarge current of 5 to 15 A, a current of 9 to 35 kA with a rise time of 55 ns in an argon gas pressure range from 100 to 800 mtorr. It is found that without a predischarge current, spike output has been hardly observed. Observation of spike output at a low discharge current of 9 kA provides us a possibility for design of a compact soft X-ray laser device. When the predischarge is turned off, the side-view observation of the capillary discharge clearly shows the growth of instabilities during the pinch process. This suggests that the predischarge is indispensable for achieving a uniform plasma, which is required by the soft X-ray lasing in a capillary discharge.