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''[[Launchpad:~mpt|Matthew Paul Thomas]]'', Canonical

Matthew Paul Thomas, Canonical


This is an incomplete but living specification on how Ubuntu sessions should work. For each of

  • {unlock encrypted disk before startup, start up, log in automatically, log in with password, lock screen manually, lock screen automatically, unlock, switch user account, log out, suspend, hibernate, restart, shut down},

it should define how that function is made available (or not), looks, behaves, and fails gracefully, for

  • {a standard user account, an admin account, a guest session, a live/test-drive session}.

Packages currently involved


No text screen should appear before or after the startup screen (desktop-p-text-free-boot).

The startup screen should always include the Ubuntu logo. If there are multiple Ubuntu versions installed on this machine, the version number of this version should appear below the logo, as confirmation that you have started up into the right one.

How progress should be displayed in the startup screen depends on how long startup is likely to take in this Ubuntu version:

  • If less than five seconds (e.g. a future blazing-fast version of Ubuntu on an SSD), progress need not be displayed at all.

  • If between five and ten seconds, a spinner, identical to that used in the default theme.
  • If more than ten seconds (as in current Ubuntu versions), a determinate progress bar, in the style of the default theme.
  • If starting up from a CD/DVD (which is likely to take minutes), a slowly-animating optical disc and a determinate progress bar, as a visual explanation that it’s the disc that’s slow, not Ubuntu.

Disk checking

Anything else that takes unusually long

Log in automatically

Log in manually

Bugs not yet addressed by this specification

This specification should describe fixes for (or reasons for not fixing) each of these bugs:

  • Bug 833290: No indication that lock screen is suppressed

  • Bug 855556: “Restart” and “Shut Down” don't work if anyone else is logged in

  • Bug 159160: make compiz close last when shutting down

  • Bug 165065: Ubuntu reboot into other OS

  • Bug 269478: Choosing "Log Out"/"Shut Down" a second time hides the window

  • Bug 282857: logout dialog window opened on wrong screen

  • Bug 289673: close menu: allow delaying

  • Bug 290851: shutdown prompt should use XIDLE

  • Bug 313228: a program is still running but i want shut down anyway

  • Bug 328473: System/shutdown dialog are inaccessible with Orca screen reader

  • Bug 363871: Disabling user switching doesn't disable it completely

  • Bug 214370: Logout/Shutdown Sound Not Working

  • Bug 391559: RequestReboot() causes dialog to appear briefly

  • Bug 395124: logout window appears behind other windows

  • Bug 435807: Dialog buttons need mnemonics

  • Bug 485740: "Log out" shortcut should focus the logout window

  • Bug 540826: Rename "Suspend" to "Sleep"

  • Bug 607543: Logging into already logged in user (after switching users) causes user to log out

  • Bug 653860: inhibited shutdown window is not descriptive enough

  • Bug 654391: No obvious way for root to cleanly shut down a session

  • Bug 654577: "shut down" should at least log out (prohibited by multiple users)

  • Bug 686156: shutdown conflict dialogue shows "Untitled window" in task bar

  • Bug 769961: gnome-session uses Ubuntu specific branding in session name unnecessarily

  • Bug 773125: gnome-session needs a default session

  • Bug 855556: "Restart" and "Shut Down" don't work if anyone else is logged in

  • Bug 859416: Rename GNOME Classic to GNOME Fallback & GNOME to GNOME Shell

  • Bug 107672: multiple logins by same user

  • Plymouth bugs (e.g. Hibernate / Suspend should have graphical splash screens showing progress).

  • Design-related bugs in any other software involved in startup/shutdown.

Previous work

(Many of these documents are by other Canonical designers and are therefore private. They will be either made public or retired.)

Old specification

As a temporary measure until ExitStrategy is implemented, there should be separate Log Out, Sleep, Hibernate, Restart, and Switch Off commands. The Log Out, Restart, and Switch Off commands should have confirmation alerts. The “Sleep” and “Switch Off” terminology should be used consistently across Ubuntu.

Common alert elements

The primary action button should respond to the Enter key, and should not have any other access key. The Cancel button should respond to the Esc key, and should not have any other access key. None of the buttons should have icons.

Log Out

If updates that require a restart are waiting to be installed:


The “Restart” button should have the access key R. If you do not have permission to restart without authenticating, the button label should end with an ellipsis.





If you do not have permission to restart without authenticating, the button label should end with an ellipsis.

Switch Off


(The phrase “shut down” is used here in the primary text as a hint for people who are used to “shut down” from previous versions or other OSes.)

If you do not have permission to switch off without authenticating, the button label should end with an ellipsis.

When suspending or hibernating fails

There are three errors Ubuntu might receive when trying to suspend or hibernate.

Not enough swap space to hibernate

Swap space is encrypted

If you have encrypted swap but have not specified a password for the swap, you would not be able to wake from hibernate. To protect you from this, Ubuntu will not hibernate in the first place. In this case, "Hibernate" should not appear in the session menu in the first place.

In the unlikely event that Ubuntu does try to hibernate in this situation ...

Sleep has already been requested

Show nothing extra, because the sleep is happening anyway.

Implementation plan

  1. In indicator-session, implement the new alerts.

  2. In gdm, change “Suspend” to “Sleep” and “Shut Down” to “Switch Off”.

  3. In gnome-power-manager, change “Suspend” to “Sleep” and “Shutdown” [sic] to “Switch Off”.

  4. In gnome-session’s behemoth dialog, change “Suspend” to “Sleep” and “Shut Down” to “Switch Off”.

  5. In gnome-session, change “System policy prevents stopping the system when other users are logged in” to “To switch off the computer while others are logged in, you need to authenticate.” (with a period).

  6. In gnome-user-guide, change the “Ending a Session” page so that it refers to “Switch Off” instead of “Shut Down”, and has a bullet point for “Sleep” instead of wibbling about some vendors letting you suspend.

  7. Later, move the confirmation alerts from indicator-session to gnome-session.

SessionHandling (last edited 2016-01-08 12:12:56 by mpt)