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To setup a laptop owned by a complete PC novice any settings that may become hard to tackle remotely need to be avoided. The laptop will be administrated via SSH. One thing in my list are problems arising from improper wake-ups from suspend or hibernate as they may also affect network accessibility.

This is why I thought setting up power management to "shutdown" on closing the laptop lid could be a good idea. However I am not sure if this is a safe way to do. What problems in addition to software not closing properly (and thus not saving their data) could I be faced if I proceeded as planned?

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As you mention, you may have problems with software not closing properly. Apart from that, the shutdown occurs as a proper shutdown sequence, exactly as if you had invoked it from the menus, so you're not going to have additional problems.

This is how I set up my own lapotop and my girlfriend's netbook, which cannot resume from sleep/hibernation properly. In two years, I haven't had any single problem related to shutdown via closing the lid.

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A couple of things that might become annoying, due to a sudden halt or shutdown, would be:

  • Apps like firefox, deluge, cleaners etc might not save session data, making it a difficult process to resume and restore them afterwards.
  • Some apps might fail in logging session details
  • Driver settings might automatically get restored (I had this issue with laptop brightness)
  • If it isn't a forced halt then some GUI apps might veto the shutdown and prevent the computer from turning off. (apps like text-editors)

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