System Suspend, Stop, and Restart

The design on this page has been generally superceded by the system status menu. It is being kept as a historical reference.

Stopping and restarting the device.


WilliamJonMcCann, JakubSteiner, AllanDay


There are various reasons why someone would want to stop the computer.

We'll focus on the following:

  • I'm done with it for now
  • I want to install an update
  • Need to disconnect power (moving system without a battery, changing battery, replacing memory)

Basically these map to:

  • Suspend
  • Restart
  • Power Off


  • Present a short and simple set of choices
  • Promote suspend/resume as a good way to stop the system




Suspend is the standard way to stop the computer. The action may be performed from the User Menu, by tapping the system hardware power button, or by closing the laptop's lid.

Power Off

User wants to shut down the system. This action may be chosen from the User Menu. When a modifier key is pressed, the standard Suspend item changes to Power Off...

When no apps are running

When 1 or more apps are running

When a user attempts to shut down or restart the system, we should check to see if there are apps running in order to prevent loss of work. In the case that one or more apps is running, we should make the user confirm that they want to proceed and there should be no 60s countdown to automatically shutting down. We should show a list of the apps that are running and if possible, indicate if there will actually be work lost, eg. indicate when there might be unsaved changes. If that is technically unfeasible, then a simple list of the apps is a reasonable fall-back. The dialog should be a fixed width and height, and the app list should scroll if needed.

When attempting to shut down the system with one or more apps running, a list of the apps is shown.


User wants to restart the system. This action is chosen from the User Menu.

When no apps are running

When 1 or more apps are running

No mockup - uses exact same pattern as shutting down with apps running.

Design Updates

Some observations:

  • 'Lock' is a better term than 'Screen Lock' (since it affects more than just the screen)
  • Suspend is typically activated by closing the lid on a laptop or with a power button on a tablet
  • The power button on desktop machines isn't always easily accessible
  • Log out and switch user don't make sense to people on single user systems (what are they logging out of, exactly?)
  • Suspending a system doesn't typically involve using the user menu:
    • Laptops - you close the lid
    • Desktops - leave it to go to sleep
    • Tablets - press the hard button

Relevant bugs:

Tentative Redesign


This calls for the removal of log out as a concept from single user systems (see bug 657011). (This is desirable independently of the user menu changes themselves.) There are a number of areas that this affects:

  • Software updates that require a session restart (see bug 674964)

  • Changing the user's display language
  • Giving a user administrative privileges (see bug 674429)


  • SriramRamkrishna - How do you communicate to the user that the shutdown option is available? When confronted with the system menu and they see no option to shut down it doesn't seem obvious there is a way to do communicate that. Also it's already understood that closing the laptop lid would suspend, why have a menu item for it at all?

    AlexWilliamson - This seems to be trading aesthetics for usability. How is the user supposed to be aware of modifier keys, where to use them, and what they do? As a seasoned Linux user and developer, I've spent the past two weeks cursing at Fedora 15 to find this magic and for some reason it still only gives me a shutdown option, not a restart. (2011/03/19)

    DanielMorante - The shutdown command should be a clearly visible option for the user. We may have users selecting the restart command and powering off during a reboot. Or worse, some users may not understand the concept behind "suspend" and remove the power source while the system is in suspend mode.

    NathanStrong - The Suspend option is useless when running Gnome 3 in a virtual machine--it simply locks the workstation (VirtualBox 4.0.8 and Fedora 15). Thus, I question the assumption that when the user clicks on the system menu, they are looking for a "I'm done for now" option. Typically, when I'm done, I just lock the host workstation and walk away, and let the power saving settings take care of turning off the monitor/disks/etc. In a VM, when I go to the system menu, it's because I want to turn the VM off. (2011/05/30)

    JuanjoMarin - I think that our preference for suspend over shutdown should be communicated to the user in another way. (2011/07/09)

    LionelDricot - I've tested that with some users never exposed to any computer before. And their reactions was always the same: how to turn it off completely so it doesn't consume any power? I have to admit that suspend is still consuming power, even if very little power. But for someone using his/her computer once a month, it doesn't make sense to suspend. We may argue about hibernate but hibernate is way slower than shutdown and is thus seen as useless. I think I understand the rational behind "suspend only" but I think that it missed the point of people not using their computer often and of those worried about the environment.

  • RichardM' - Suspend while it is the most used long-afk feature; Easy, intuitive access to a full shutdown is a core fore-front option that must be clearly visible. Given Gnome's excessive notion to make the one and only theme 'Accessibility Friendly', hiding options such as Shutdown are contradictory to this mantra. Shutdown has many uses for people not tethered to a battery, such as millions of desktop users (remember us?). Speaking of accessibility. One of the complaints I hear most about Gnome's design direction is literally how revolting and insulting it is to only have one virtually non-configurable (sans adding equinox evolution: window border, zukitwo: gtk/shell, faence: icon theme, and a litany of extensions) to make the revolting Adwaita style go away and be replaced with an aesthetically pleasing UI for the **majority** of existing non-disabled Linux GUI users. That's not to say that the >>login<< screen shouldn't have easy options to enable accessibility features for any given user, but to imply that the rest of us not! need kid-glove gargantuan rounded borders everywhere and black-on-white contrast 100% of the time implies that Gnomes team are living in their own world, or are largely made up of disabled people. I respect any project that aims to be usable to all; disabled and able, indeed I'm pretty short sighted at this stage of my life, and my wife has worsening tremors, we're not thus against accessibility features- just please tone it down. Subtle classy styling is what will win the majority of people over, that and basic customization. With that, love the project overall. Please bring us old diehards back to a productive, beautiful atmosphere to work in that doesn't take days to configure and hack:

See Also

Design/OS/SystemStopRestart (last edited 2015-06-22 14:32:46 by AllanDay)