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I believe this to be a serious bug having to do with the root account malfunctioning badly. I have reproduced it several times. I have restarted the machine, verified the hard disk, and repaired permissions. It is still reproducible.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Enable the administrator (root) account.
  2. Go to Login Window.
  3. Login to root account. 4.Attempt to logout of root account ==> nothing appears to happen. That is, the root account cannot be logged out; neither can the system be shut down from the root account. As far as I know, this is not part of the Lion design, but I could be wrong.
  4. Go to Login Window.
  5. Login to my regular user.
  6. After logging in to the regular user, the logout dialog box is displayed.

My conclusion: the attempt to logout of the root account, while apparently "doing nothing" is instead invoking the logout of the other logged in account. This should not be happening!

During the several times when I performed the above steps, I had attempted to both logout from the root account and shutdown from it. While neither apparent to have any effect on the system, when I quickly logged back to the regular user, there were dialogs present for both logout and shutdown on the screen, with the countdown timer running. I would not expect having both of those dialogs at the same time either.

During one time when this procedure was performed, after logging back to the regular user, the full system was malfunctioning, with many user interface functions not responding at all, such as quitting programs or attempting to logout the regular user. Re-launching the Finder did not help. The system had clearly become unstable and I was forced to shutdown.

I have also sent this as a bug report to Apple Feedback.

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Have you checked the system logs in Console for any relevant information? –  jtbandes Apr 18 '12 at 15:38
    
I do not see a smoking gun in the log. About the only entry that could possibly be relevant is the following: 4/24/12 3:56:28.881 PM warmd: [_bootcachectl_playlist_dir_for_user:1908] Assertion failed: (0 != uid): root playlist dir should no longer be used and maybe the following4/24/12 3:59:42.023 PM com.apple.launchd.peruser.0: (com.google.keystone.root.agent[21769]) Exited with code: 1 –  Jeffrey Simon Apr 24 '12 at 22:33
    
However, I have seen a significant number of people complaining of the exact problem in the apple support forums –  Jeffrey Simon Apr 24 '12 at 22:35
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