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I know that there are several commands that shutdown an Ubuntu computer. I was just wondering if there is a right one to use and what the implications are for using the other ones; or what the various scenarios are for using each of the available commands and their parameters.

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The right way to shutdown Ubuntu using the CLI(Command Line Interface) is sudo shutdown now.

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  • 4
    Wow! That was fast!. Just saw a similar question and was about to delete this one
    – muyiscoi
    Mar 2 '13 at 22:44
  • On my Ubuntu 12.04 system, this doesn't work. The command completes, but no shutdown is initiated. Adding -h doesn't change this. Dec 9 '15 at 15:34
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You can shutdown safely running:

sudo poweroff
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I suggest using shut down preceded with sync - probably old school but it commits unwritten data to disk - especially useful in multiuser systems. Linux System Administrators Guide

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