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The shutdown option from the gnome-menu or a starter in the panel, that shows the active shutdown-options like Shutdown, Restart, Suspend, ..., has a default timer to shutdown after 60 seconds if no other option was selected.

Is there a way to go automatically to suspend instead of shutdown after countdown?

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I don't think it is possible, its default..shutdown will shutdown it would be damn weird to click on shutdown to suspend your computer, click on suspend =) – Gerep Feb 28 '12 at 1:08

By default you are selecting shutdown as the action so it it not likely that this can be changed.

If you intend to suspend your system you can simply select suspend from the menu option.

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