Four clicks to Power Off

I have Ubuntu 18.04 (Gnome 3.28.2) and Ubuntu 20.04 (Gnome 3.36.2) installed. When I want to power down Ubuntu 18.04 PC, I click in 3 different places: 2 times on “power” icon and once on “Power Off” button. The same operation with Ubuntu 20.04 takes 4 clicks: 1 on “power” icon and 3 on various forms of “Power Off” button. Is there a good reason for an extra level of difficulty?


Not a designer, but if you’re going to add a “Power Off” button that just needs one click, you can be 100% sure that people will accidentally click it, which means they lose all their unsaved work. In other words, think you don’t really want it to be very easily accessible.


Agree. One click is too dangerous, but three should be more than sufficient. Why add one more?

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Because we’re not speedrunning through a desktop? Why do you feel the need to optimise for shutting down your machine, instead of optimise it for running it?


Maybe to save power? Not on all hardware the sleep modes like suspend to ram work reliable. I turn of my monitor whenever I go away for more than ten minutes, and power off the PC when I go away for longer than 3 hours. And PC is a Intel NUC which consumes only 17 W in idle, I assume some of us may have still PCs which consume more. Fessenheim was shut down today finally!

You’re still not going to constantly power off your machine, so what’s the point of making the process of shutting down the computer faster? What’s the difference between 3 and four clicks? A second? Less than a second? What’s the total travel time of the pointer?

What are we trying to optimise things for?

There are two issues I see here.

  1. Slippery slope: “What’s the difference between 3 and four clicks?”. You may repeat this argument every minor release and it will soon become: what’s the difference between 13 and 14 clicks? [the number is artificially exaggerated to make the point clear].

  2. Why change something, which worked perfectly well? Gnome 3.28.2 has a clear, uncluttered path to power down. Why muddy it with more components and a longer path? I’m not calling to make the shutdown faster or optimize it in any way. On the contrary, I’m calling to leave it the way it was.


The “slippery slope” argument would make sense if we actually moved the power off action to a whole new menu. It’s in the same place, but we need to have more actions alongside it that semantically belong to the same “terminate this session” group. We can’t add more items to the system menu without making it unwieldy; the rule of thumb for menus is between 10 and 15 items, and when you have wired, wifi, VPN, bluetooth, night light, and battery items, you get 10 items already.

Because clearly it didn’t? It’s not like the menu was changed because it was a Monday, and the Shell designers and maintainers didn’t know what to do that day.

The rounded buttons did not scale in number; they were icons, which added cognitive load—for instance, in user testing and issue reporting, very few people understood what the “orientation lock” icon even meant, let alone that pressing Alt would turn the Power off button into a Suspend one—and turning them into text would have broken the layout anyway.

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Now you are getting to answering my original question. I’m an early user of Ubuntu and Gnome. I switched from Windows to Linux a month ago and I had no idea that older shutdown procedure was problematic for anyone. It was perfectly clear and useable for me, but I may be an outlier as I don’t use suspend.

If this is of any value for you as a designer of Gnome, my initial impression of looking at newer Gnome was a bit along the lines of “changed because it was a Monday”. Power off was one thing, another one was redesigned icons. After a couple of weeks, the older Terminal and Files icons become familiar and easily recognizable to me. Seeing the new oval round corner iteration, where they are very similar to each other (in my eyes), made me silently scream why?!

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That’s just unlucky timing of your entrance to the GNOME world, we’d had the old icons for about a decade (which of course is longer than Windows or macOS normally goes without redoing everything)


image image

Wildly different colours and I wouldn’t call them oval

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Yet another redesign? Here is what I see on Gnome 3.36.2:


That’s not GNOME, that’s whatever 3rd party icon set you (or your distro) have decided to use

We’ve only had one icon redesign (in 3.32) though a few applications (such as Videos) have been tweaked since then

I have Ubuntu 20.04 LTS standard desktop installation:


Blurb from Ubuntu blog:

“The Ubuntu Desktop team have worked closely with the upstream GNOME developers and the wider community to deliver a solid GNOME desktop experience for our users. Thereby, joining our friends in the Debian project to update packages to the latest GNOME software packages.”

Are they lying?


The article I quoted,, shows screenshot with the icons I have, but they also show a video with icons you’ve shown. I have no clue what is going on here.


To get the icons you’ve shown, one has to use Tweak Tool and change icons from Yaru to Adwaita.

They are not lying, no. What’s going on here is that Ubuntu is not shipping GNOME but rather the Ubuntu Desktop for the Ubuntu Operating System. This happens to be based on GNOME and its technologies, but its not GNOME. Its a customized shell designed by Canonical to meet their requirements. Its not what GNOME designs for or looks like, although they can be very similar in places given Ubuntu’s DE base.

Ubuntu is changing a lot of things, included but not limited to:

  • Default application Icons
  • Stylesheet of the shell and GTK applications
  • Layout of the Shell, as well how certain aspects of the shell behave. For example the static Dock is a completely custom thing that isn’t part of GNOME’s design
  • Includes Application tray indicators
  • Includes Desktop icons, GNOME itself hasn’t had desktop-icons since GNOME 3 a decade ago.

To that end what you get isn’t GNOME but Ubuntu Desktop.


Yes. And do you know what you had to do to suspend? You had to click the power off icon while having Alt pressed. Not something anybody would reasonably discover, and it was that way because more than 3 icons won’t fit properly.


Just use an extension. Many even has only two clicks. With mouse it just power off -> ok/shutdown dialog.

Ubuntu may use this way as well. They don’t particularly like default behaviour.

The Ubuntu desktop is a tweaked version of the GNOME desktop. The ALT+TAB behaviour, the dock, the minimize and maximize buttons, the desktop icons … these are some of the differences implemented by the Ubuntu desktop team which changes GNOME default behaviour.

Aside from that, Ubuntu uses its own default theme and icons, called Yaru, which explains the differences that you see. I followed the switch from Ubuntu’s own Unity desktop back to GNOME closely and remember there being a discussion about the icons. Originally, Ubuntu wanted to use their own icon set, which they had started using for the now defunct Unity 8. But after two Ubuntu releases and discussions with the GNOME developers, they decided to re-base their icons and theme on Adwaita and the actual icons.

I must say, I do feel, with the release of 20.04 LTS, the convergence has somewhat stopped. I don’t know why.

I personally think this is a shame, because on the one hand, I want to stick with the biggest Linux distro, i.e. Ubuntu, but on the other hand, I would like it to be as close to vanilla GNOME as possible. This sort of convergence implies concessions on both sides, and I feel that this has somehow stopped short.


Indeed, — I’ve noticed this too. It was done rather silently or I missed the discussion. I was dismayed to see that the filing cabinet for Nautilus was changed back to a file icon instead of the gnome default (which in my opinion is far better in resembling what it stands for). Often I think designers do a change just for the sake of change …
I did what I always do - Changed everything to a vanilla gnome look, with one change. I added a toolbar. :sweat_smile:


Ha, nice. I kind of switch back and forth between ubuntu-session and gnome-session. Can’t decide: love sticking to default settings, but am really fond of vanilla GNOME experience and theming as well.

What do you mean by ‘toolbar’? Do you mean one or another extension? The dash-to-panel? I use that from time to time as well :slight_smile:

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Agree. Probably the case of UI designers with too much time on their hands.