I am noticing that recently my laptop does not go to sleep/lockout after its configured X minutes of inactivity like it did in the past. I suspect some program (like media player does) is preventing it from going to sleep. I do not have any media player running, so how can I find which program is preventing it from sleeping?

It does go to sleep if I close the lid. But I would also like for it to go to sleep after X minutes of inactivity.

Update: Upgraded to Ubuntu 18.04 with default Gnome and Wayland enabled.

  • Please mention the distro, its version, and the desktop environment. – DK Bose Sep 3 '18 at 2:50
  • Your question will probably be closed as 'off-topic' because 17.10 is no longer supported. Use 16.04 or 18.04. – DK Bose Sep 3 '18 at 3:44
  • 1
    I think it is exactly the same thing? This has not really changed between versions. – Mitar Sep 3 '18 at 3:53
  • I would be interested in the answer to your question but that's the policy followed here. Using an unsupported version could lead to problems down the road. – DK Bose Sep 3 '18 at 4:02
  • 5
    I upgraded the system. The same thing is still there. – Mitar Sep 3 '18 at 7:14

I think I figured it out.

I used:

dbus-send --print-reply --dest=org.gnome.SessionManager /org/gnome/SessionManager org.gnome.SessionManager.GetInhibitors

to get the list of inhibitors, like:

array [
   object path "/org/gnome/SessionManager/Inhibitor71"
   object path "/org/gnome/SessionManager/Inhibitor72"

Then I did:

dbus-send --print-reply --dest=org.gnome.SessionManager /org/gnome/SessionManager/Inhibitor71 org.gnome.SessionManager.Inhibitor.GetAppId

Which returned:

string "firefox"

It seems Firefox is preventing it. It seems that now when YouTube is playing it prevents sleeping.

| improve this answer | |
  • Excellent, now we just need a little script that does all of that in one go. :-) – Alexis Wilke May 13 at 19:27

If you open a terminal window you can type "top" to view a continuously updating list of all running processes. One of these busy background processes is stopping your laptop from going to sleep. For a static list type "ps aux" instead. You can then see their process identification numbers. This will allow you to use "sudo kill pidnumber" on any suspect process, to see if stopping it will then allow your laptop to go to sleep (after its timeout period). Once you have identified the problematic process, you can then make an informed decision about whether that process is important to you.

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  • The question is how to know which process causes the problem (i.e. prevent sleep), not how to find running processes PIDs. – Alexis Wilke May 13 at 19:23

Mitar is definitely the right answer, you can use dbus to retrieve the information.

The interesting aspect of it is that some tabs in Firefox will create the problem and others do not. As I tested now I can tell it's smart enough to add/remove the inhibition depending on the content of the page—i.e. on YouTube you have a video, that inhibits the screensaver.

I wrote a script in PHP in order to list the inhibitors as a simple list. I bet there are tools/libraries in python to do that (because many of the OS code uses that language) but unfortunately I don't know python enough to do that.

Copy the following in a file such as ~/bin/inhibitors and then make it executable with chmod 755 ~/bin/inhibitors. Now in your console you can type: inhibitors and you get a list of tools preventing your OS from going to sleep.

$list = `dbus-send --print-reply --dest=org.gnome.SessionManager /org/gnome/SessionManager org.gnome.SessionManager.GetInhibitors`;

$l = explode("\n", $list);

$found = false;
foreach($l as $a)
    $a = trim($a);
        if($a == "]")
        if(substr($a, 0, 13) == 'object path "')
            $inhibitor = substr($a, 13, strlen($a) - 14);

            $info = `dbus-send --print-reply --dest=org.gnome.SessionManager $inhibitor org.gnome.SessionManager.Inhibitor.GetAppId`;

            $names = explode("\n", $info);
            $n = trim($names[1]);
            if(substr($n, 0, 8) == 'string "')
                $name = substr($n, 8, strlen($n) - 9);

                echo $inhibitor, " ", $name, "\n";
    elseif($a == "array [")
        $found = true;

Here is an example of output:

$ inhibitors
/org/gnome/SessionManager/Inhibitor2414 firefox
/org/gnome/SessionManager/Inhibitor2415 org.gnome.Totem

In this case Firefox and Totem block my screensaver.

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