Adding Fast User Switcher applet causes shut down options to disappear from System menu

Bug #343219 reported by Dylan McCall on 2009-03-15
This bug affects 11 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
NULL Project
fast-user-switch-applet (Ubuntu)
Nominated for Jaunty by Dylan McCall
Nominated for Karmic by Mantas Kriaučiūnas
gnome-panel (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu Desktop Bugs
Nominated for Jaunty by Dylan McCall
Nominated for Karmic by Mantas Kriaučiūnas

Bug Description

Binary package hint: fast-user-switch-applet

Upon adding the Fast User Switch applet, the log out and shutdown options in the System menu disappear. This is obviously intentional, but it is not a good idea.

* This goes against that "buttons shall not move" philosophy we generally try to uphold.
* The fast user switch applet does not properly duplicate the functionality found in the system menu. Where is our direct path to jump back to GDM while staying logged in?
* A user may just prefer using the menu. Maybe he has mobiliy problems and prefers to use Alt F1 to open the main menu than to tab over to FUSA.
* The shutdown and logout options were there with the last release.
* A user who quickly switches between user accounts may have the occasional account without the FUSA applet added, in which case logging out involves clicking a completely different button.
* Ubuntu is CONSTANTLY changing its log out and shut down GUI. Like, every release it's different. Perhaps users who follow Ubuntu but like stability would enjoy a release where this procedure does not change because it was just about right last time.

Now don't get me wrong, it's a nice thought. I like the idea of clearing up menus and not having redundant options. In this case, however, there are many usability issues inherent especially given that FUSA is optional. Further, the System menu is, if anything, too short; not too big.

Unless there is solid evidence to say that nobody but me ever used the Log Out, Shut Down, etc. items from the menu, the change needs to be reverted for the sake of usability.

Well said. I have to agree.

" A user may just prefer using the menu. Maybe he has mobiliy problems and prefers to use Alt F1 to open the main menu than to tab over to FUSA. "

A major problem here is that it is virtually impossible to reach FUSA from the keyboard. The Gnome-documentation claims that you switch between panels using Ctrl-Alt-Tab, which doesn't actually work, at least with desktop effects enabled - it just switches between open windows instead. This leaves keyboard-users unable to log out, if they have FUSA enabled.

(The panel situation needs to be resolved in a better way, too, but I guess that's for another bug)

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

I also find it somewhat counterintuitive to have shutdown, hibernate, suspend and reboot in the fusa applet. This looks as if it was to shut down or reboot the user not the computer.

jbond00747 (jeff-cowart) wrote :

I'd like to agree with Arve's comment above. The main reason I don't like this change is that I can't get to those options with the keyboard. If I could easily get there with the keyboard, I wouldn't mind this change much. (I do tend to agree that system wide settings shouldn't be part of a user switching applet, but that's not as big of an issue in my mind as the inability to get there with the keyboard.)

Martin G Miller (mgmiller) wrote :

There is more to it than as stated above. The shut down command works differently in each of these 2 locations.

1) If you have another person logged on and try to shut down from the FUSA, it won't let you. It forces you to log on as the other person and log them off before changing back to the first user and then shutting down.

2) If you attempt to shut down from the System menu entry with a second person logged on, it will tell you there is someone else logged on and ask if you want to shut down anyway.

There is an obvious difference in ease of use between these 2 methods of shutting down. There needs to be a way to add this functionality back in, preferably by default.

Grayson Peddie (graysonpeddie) wrote :

There is a work around, assuming you don't use Compiz Fusion (eye-candy desktop effects):

1. Hold down CTRL+ALT+TAB and you should hear/see a top panel and release it.
2. Tab over to where Orca does not speak anything. It does not speak your full user name, sadly.
3. Press the space bar. You now have access to the menu.

This can be quite complicated, as it can be hard to just hold down CTRL+ALT+TAB with just one hand. One thing that I've noticed is it just said "menu bar" when I navigate to that menu bar. It once said "icon," but how would the blind suppose to know what this mean? What icon is it? Orca should be able to give details that's in a gnome-panel, but that's totally unrelated to this bug report. So this bug with the gnome-orca and gnome-panel is pretty much generic, as it can happen to any Linux distro.

Gee, Ubuntu 9.04 is getting too close to release... :(

Changed in fast-user-switch-applet (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid
Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :


I don't know what version of the FUSA that you are using, but it has had Policykit support for some time now in Jaunty, so you can shut down when multiple users are logged in just like you can when using the old session dialog (System -> Shut Down). I'm not sure why you see the issue that you describe. That has been fixed for ages.

In addition to that, the FUSA now uses gnome-session to shutdown now anyway, so the behaviour is identical regardless of which method you use.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

that's a design decision and not a bug

Changed in gnome-panel (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Ubuntu Desktop Bugs (desktop-bugs)
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: New → Invalid
Dylan McCall (dylanmccall) wrote :

I, and most people here, understand it is a design decision. That doesn't make this less of a bug.

It's a short-sighted design decision which, while sensible for some use cases, absolutely decimates others. I won't go into the usability of FUSA itself, but suffice it to say it has nothing on the (very mature, tried and true) upstream System Shut down / Log out options.

This is the same kind of design decision as, for example, choosing hot pink Comic Sans as the default font. Explicitly chosen, maybe even by a committee, but a serious usability regression regardless and in need of reporting.

I'm not insisting this be fixed (I'm not the maintainer), but I do ask that you please treat this like any other bug report and only mark it invalid if it is, in fact, not a real problem - for example Ubuntu has chosen to not mention accessiblity for the disabled amongst its selling points.

Just because Ubuntu has a design team now doesn't mean people can go ignoring serious problems because they were "designed."

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

what is the issue and what do you want changed then? if you don't want to use fusa just remove it from your configuration?

ThiloPfennig (tpfennig) wrote :

I think this will be a CLASSIC wrong decision. It reminds me on the decision of GNOME to choose spatial browsing for nautilus some years ago.

Thing is: Every big change in usability does mean people will have to relearn stuff. So this should only be done if you have very good reasons. Mostly this is the case if some stuff REALLY sucks.

the current design decision means that I can not use the FUSA any more. Why? Because I am used to shutdown via system menu and do not plan to change. Also if I add the FUSA also all administration settings are gone and I still dont know where they are now.

So to make my points:

a) People dont like changes, unless they really make things only better
b) the design decisions renders the FUSA unusable for some people like me, although I really loved it until recently
c) Some settings are on new locations which can not be find easily
d) Additionally I think the FUSA is now overloaded and also confusing. I now read in german (and retranslated into english "Logged off" and "Logg off".

I think that this feature went through indicates that the community process in Ubuntu has serious flaws, as some major concerns were not heard. This decision alone may justify for some a switch away from Ubuntu. What I see is arrogance. Not that Ubuntu is the only project that has developed such arrogance, but I like to point that out in the hope that those things will not happen again.

the major problem I guess is that the way you did incorporate the new feature is that adding an applet changes the system menu. That sounds very elegant but is in fact not very logical. The clean way would have been to introduce a forked FUSA as an option and to collect user feedback.

Personally I too still habve the window chooser on the far right which I could not live without. But some other guys already decided before you that I dont need that.

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

My 2¢, about what the problem is:

1. FUSA is part of the /default/ panel config in Ubuntu, meaning that it is made harder for people who want or have to use the keyboard to execute shutdown, reboot and so forth after a fresh install. You have to opt out of it, not opt in. Also, you have to know in the first place, that it /is/ a separate component that can be removed, and you also have to know that this is the way to make another, more accessible logout dialogue magically appear. No new user will be aware of this.

2. I actually want to have FUSA. I find it hard to accept that I should have to remove it to get a working system menu back.

3. It is counterintuitive to have the shutdown and reboot command under "user", as they do not shutdown or reboot the user but the system. Therefore its only /logical/ place for people to look for it is the system menu.

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

wouldn't the best solution be to make this configurable, give users the choice?

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

Another problem: If I have to remove FUSA to get a functional system menu, I loose access to the guest session feature, as the latter one is not accessible from the system menu.

On Sat, 2009-04-18 at 19:28 +0000, Johannes Rohr wrote:
> wouldn't the best solution be to make this configurable, give users the
> choice?

In theory, that's the case now with the gconf
key /apps/fast-user-switch-applet/show_session_commands. Unfortunately,
gnome-panel does not look at it for the menus and so continues to not
provide any session exit options. If that was changed, and if
show_session_commands was disabled by default - at least for upgrades -
(maybe with an addition to the preferences dialog to configure), we
could have the best of both ends in a slightly less destructive fashion.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

the reason why it has been changed is that have several way to do the same thing by default is confusing, changes always take some getting used to for user upgradings but that's not a reason to refuse any change, having a gconf key to have the menu items showed would be fine if somebody wants to work on that change

ThiloPfennig (tpfennig) wrote :

I can understand the argument, but actually I do not think it is that confusing. In the real world and on the computer there are always more than one way to do things. The question is what is more confusing: Having the possibility to do a thing in another way or not being able to do a thing because you can not find it or at least having a hard time? I know a lot of things I can do with Ubuntu where there are dozens of ways to do it - that does not confuse me. Confusion comes if people do not know what to do. I think people make some tasks a habbit and then stick to it. So I guess many users did not even yet find the FUSA.

I think the current situation is a bit unfortunate. 9.04 is on the doorsteps and the decision was made. Even of the decision was wrong it is better to stick with it now. But maybe it is possible to get some more user feedback on major interface changes. And please include feedback of impaired users. If somebody who is perfectly healthy and fully functional and smart likes a new solution that makes a new solution only usable for such users - unless such features are approved by those who already have more problems with computers (which are also kids and or seniors).

Maybe the FUSA features can be tweaked, so that it wont be impossible for some to use Ubuntu any more (which I fear will be the case).

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

I have yesterday removed, and just now re-added fusa to the menu. The result is, well, unexected: Now the system menu has only two entries: "Info zu GNOME" and "Info zu Ubuntu". Not only the shutdown menu is gone but also the control centre menu. So there is definitely something that needs to be fixed!

Andy Ruddock (andy-ruddock) wrote :

Dylan McCall wrote:
> On Sat, 2009-04-18 at 19:28 +0000, Johannes Rohr wrote:
>> wouldn't the best solution be to make this configurable, give users the
>> choice?
> In theory, that's the case now with the gconf
> key /apps/fast-user-switch-applet/show_session_commands. Unfortunately,
> gnome-panel does not look at it for the menus and so continues to not
> provide any session exit options.

What *does* gnome-panel look for to determine whether or not to display
session exit options?
If an applet wishes to change the configuration of a panel shouldn't it
be a panel configuration option which is changed by the applet, rather
than requiring the panel to know about all applets whose configuration
might affect it?

Andy Ruddock
<email address hidden> (GPG Key ID 0xA622D452)

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

> I have yesterday removed, and just now re-added fusa to the menu. The result is, well, unexected

the issue is different than the one described there, open a new bug about it

> What *does* gnome-panel look for to determine whether or not to display session exit options?

it goes through applets to see if a fusa is there

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

After killing and restarting the panel, things are back to normal. However, I just tried again and I can repeat this behaviour. Does this warrant a separate bug?

Grayson Peddie (graysonpeddie) wrote :

Because this report is about accessibility for those without a mouse and has nothing to do with accessing the preferences and administration settings, it does warrant a separate bug report.

kroy_28 (kroykroy) wrote :

I accidentally got both the Shutdown option in the System menu as well as my FUSA.

I preferred using the Shutdown Option from the System menu, so I didn't like the default FUSA after upgrading to Jaunty, so I removed the FUSA and was using the Shutdown Option from SYstem Menu.
While demonstrating to other Ubuntu users, about how to get back the Shutdown option on System menu I had to re-add User Switcher option in the panel using Add to Panel option. I accidentally added 2 User Switcher buttons and removed one. Now both FUSA as well as the System Panel.
But it is a temporary solution, as after restarting, again only the FUSA is present and System menu is missing the Shutdown Option.

Filed as a bug

arky (arky) wrote :

This might appear as a sane design decision to most of you sighted persons however it *does* creates problems to the blind orca screen reader users. It is really difficult to access the applet with the keyboard.

Jon Ogilvie (svtdragon) wrote :

I have to agree with everyone else here. Give us an option to bring the icons back in the system menu. I don't even use the system menu per se, but I've added the "Main Menu" to get rid of all the other clutter, and I've configured everything such that it's in the place where (as a migrating user of unmentionable OSs) the Start menu would be. It used to be that I could use my keyboard shortcut to pop open the main menu and shut down from there, but now I can't.

And I don't like the idea of not being able to use FUSA in order to get my buttons back, because this is a multi-user system.

I also use compiz, so the keyboard shortcuts to navigate to FUSA from the main menu don't work for me.

This seems to be an ill-thought-out change based on principle above all, but the entire point of usability, and the reason for all of the heuristics (such as the above-quoted avoidance of duplicity) is for a user to be able to do things without thinking about them. This makes me think about them, whereas before I did not, so this design choice was adhering to a heuristic and in the process missing the point.

Johannes Rohr (jorohr) wrote :

given that this bug has a real effect on usability, I believe that tagging this "invalid" is not justified. The devs may disagree, but they should allow users voice their legitimate concerns about this.

Changed in fast-user-switch-applet (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → New
ThiloPfennig (tpfennig) wrote :

It does not make any sense to reopen the bug if the developers disagree. I think the message was clear. The made a decision. If they render it invalid we need to accept it, even if we disagree. We are free to use another Linux. Maybe the decision is reconsidered at some point. Personally I have disabled FUSA alltogether and now hesitate to recommend Ubuntu. What I wish is that those design decisions are done more carefully in the future.

MCMic (mcmic) wrote :

I really really miss the old shutdown menu of Hardy Heron...
The new menu is hidden, I have to use the shutdown button to make it appear, It's a normal window instead of a big modal menu, the icons are less big and my computer think I'm stupid :
"ShutDown : Ends your session and turns off the computer" => no, really?
"Restart : Ends your session and restart the computer" => wait, seriously? no way!

And it have less options than before, I can't anymore disconnect my session or change user. Really, I miss the old shutdown way of Hardy Heron.

Przemek K. (azrael) on 2009-06-26
tags: added: usability
Vish (vish) wrote :

This is a design decision Not a papercut.

A paper cut is a minor usability annoyance that an average user would encounter on his/her first day of using a new installation of Ubuntu 9.10.

For further info about papercuts criteria , pls read >

Don't worry though, This bug has been marked as "incomplete" ONLY in the papercuts project.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Invalid
marmuta (marmuta) wrote :

I hate to have to decide between shutdown entries in the system menu and using the FUSA. It just had to be be done again as I installed Jaunty for a friend. She expected to be able to shutdown by menu and couldn't figure out how to do it on her own. She does switch accounts for the family occasionally but values shutting down by keyboard more.
In the end we deleted FUSA. Why on earth does one have to choose one or the other?

Design decision or not, IMO this fits exactly the above description of a paper cut.

Vish (vish) wrote :

Your use case , necessitates the need to trigger , FUSA using keyboard. That *does not* necessitate the presence of a System menu item. Kindly file a separate bug for that, which would be a papercut.

Vish (vish) on 2009-08-15
affects: hundredpapercuts → null
Brian Shannon (brian.shannon) wrote :

This bug is clearly valid. It makes much more sense to click System when you want to Shutdown your System. Clicking your own name is worse than clicking Start to Shutdown.

Mantas Kriaučiūnas (mantas) wrote :

ShutDown (Quit) item was removed from System menu in Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy), this was Ubuntu developers idea, while users are requesting to return "ShutDown" button to the system menu or at least to make an option to have Shutdown button even if FUSA applet is in GNOME panel, look for example this Ubuntu brainstorm post:

Simon Gibson (terryteo) wrote :

This bug is reproducible in 10.04 LTS.

Phillip Susi (psusi) wrote :

This package has been removed from Ubuntu. Closing all related bugs.

Changed in fast-user-switch-applet (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid
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