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I noticed a very strange problem on Ubuntu 18.04 after Ubuntu recently had an apt update and apt upgrade. After the user has been logged in to the system for a while, the system seems to abruptly log the user out. The logouts happened while the user is using apps. Why is this happening? How to fix it?

The apps would suddenly freeze, become unresponsive, keyboard keys will be unresponsive, the system background wallpaper in the background changes to another while the app windows freezes, and then the user account is logged out.

I accidentally found a way to reproduce my issue. Every time I go into Ubuntu Software --> Installed and click the Remove button of an installed application, my system wallpaer would change to another and freeze and would automatically log me out and I would loss my session. I have to log in again to start a new session.

May know Ubuntu 18.04 or gnome-shell 3.28.4 logout procedures so I may know how to troubleshoot this issue?

I found a webpage talking about restarting gnome-shell. It mentioned a terminal command gnome-shell --replace. I tried it and when nothing else happened, I pressed the Ctrl+C keys to regain the command prompt in the terminal. The outcome from that appears similar to my issue and the system logouts. The comment by CRogers in this answer for Gnome-shell version 3.30.1 appears similar to my issue but I am on Ubuntu 18.04 which is using Gnome Shell 3.28.4.

Update:

I found a way to reproduce my issue. Click on Settings --> Privacy --> Screen Lock or --> Location Service. The syslog for doing this, the abrupt log out of user and subsequent relogin of the user account is seen in this pastebin. I suspect the problem started from these lines (see below).

Appreciate advice on how to trouble shoot and solve this matter. Thank you.

Sep  2 20:32:02 Machine systemd[1]: Starting Location Lookup Service...
Sep  2 20:32:02 Machine gnome-control-c[12799]: Failed fetch permissions from flatpak permission store: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.portal.Error.NotFound: No entry for geolocation
Sep  2 20:32:02 Machine dbus-daemon[1358]: [system] Successfully activated service 'org.freedesktop.GeoClue2'
Sep  2 20:32:02 Machine systemd[1]: Started Location Lookup Service.
Sep  2 20:32:02 Machine wpa_supplicant[1398]: dbus: fill_dict_with_properties dbus_interface=fi.w1.wpa_supplicant1.Interface dbus_property=Stations getter failed
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine gnome-shell[11374]: gdk_cairo_surface_create_from_pixbuf: assertion 'GDK_IS_PIXBUF (pixbuf)' failed
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine org.gnome.Shell.desktop[11374]: **
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine org.gnome.Shell.desktop[11374]: mutter:ERROR:core/window.c:5332:get_default_window_icon: assertion failed: (default_icon)
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine org.gnome.Shell.desktop[11374]: == Stack trace for context 0x5640ee0c9330 ==
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine gnome-session[11253]: gnome-session-binary[11253]: WARNING: Application 'org.gnome.Shell.desktop' killed by signal 6
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine gnome-session-binary[11253]: WARNING: Application 'org.gnome.Shell.desktop' killed by signal 6
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): CRT-0: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): CRT-0: 400.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: 330.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): connected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: 165.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: 330.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: Internal DisplayPort
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: 960.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): CRT-0: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): CRT-0: 400.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: 330.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): connected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Acer G277HL (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-2: 165.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: Internal TMDS
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-3: 330.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: disconnected
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: Internal DisplayPort
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-4: 960.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine /usr/lib/gdm3/gdm-x-session[11241]: (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine gsd-media-keys[11551]: g_variant_get_va: assertion 'value != NULL' failed
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine gsd-media-keys[11551]: g_variant_unref: assertion 'value != NULL' failed
Sep  2 20:32:04 Machine org.gnome.Shell.desktop[12827]: current session already has an ibus-daemon.
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I found the cause of my issue. The Icon-Theme, Cupertino-Catalina-iCons, selected for the user account was causing the problem. When other icon-themes were selected, the abrupt user logout phenomenon did not occur.

I came to this discovery after googling org.gnome.Shell.desktop[11374]: mutter:ERROR:core/window.c:5332:get_default_window_icon: assertion failed: (default_icon) that was reflected in the syslog.

Apparently, this mutter error message has been reported by a user of another icon theme in 2018 and was also reported to mutter in the same year and remains open to date. Seems that when an icon theme is deemed incomplete by mutter and asserting certain default icon failed, a user can be abruptly logged out from his account and the gnome-shell desktop environment. Another user also discovered that an icon theme conflicting with mutter can force the user's account to be logged out.

I think this phenomenon of abruptly logging out of a user due to icon conflicts isn't helpful. I think a more robust failsafe is needed and the experts can look into mitigating this issue.

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