>Ctrl-Alt-Backspace (Restarts X, don’t do it)

>So apparently some don’t like that Ctrl-Alt-Backspace is going away. Others say this will motivate us to fix bugs.

Once upon a time I was new to Ubuntu and was somehow accidentally pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace and couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. I was using multiple workspaces (key combo Ctrl-Alt-Arrow Keys and editing documents). Needless to say, it took me a long time to figure out what the cause was.

The bottom line is Ctrl-Alt-Backspace is the WRONG way to help people regain control of their computer when a runaway application or buggy driver is not letting go. What if they are doing something important?
No! Going to a terminal through Ctrl-Alt-F# is still WRONG. Why should our users need to know the command line, if there system goes crazy? They should not.

Most users aren’t going to use either of those, they are going to restart the machine, thus losing all their data.

But there is a key combo many users know that on Windows can help them kill a runaway application and get back the rest of their applications. Ctrl-Alt-Del. It is by far the most user friendly way for a user to regain control of their misbehaving computer. From this discussion we do have a need for it. I’m also not planning on holding my breath for there to be no bugs in Ubuntu or any software package for that matter (that’s not to say we shouldn’t try). Our users deserve a user friendly way to keep them (and not bugs) in control of their computer.

Oh and they just moved the key combo for Killing the X server to something less likely to be pressed. DONT DO THIS! Finish reading your tabs, close your documents, etc.
Right Alt – Print Screen – K (Alternate Screen Kill, I like 🙂

21 thoughts on “>Ctrl-Alt-Backspace (Restarts X, don’t do it)”

  1. >”Just moved”? Honey, Magic SysRq’s been around for ages!

    And it doesn’t matter which Alt key you use.

    And K isn’t “screen kill,” it’s “kill everything on this TTY, so you can do it while logged in at the console and it’ll kill your Getty too.

  2. >Wrong? No, it’s not wrong. On my Toshiba laptop ctrl-alt-delete does absolutely nothing. alt-prtsc-k spits out a zillion screen prints. The only thing which “works” (therefore rendering it perforce not “wrong”) is ctrl-alt-backspace.

  3. >@Mackenzie: Oops, you are right. But still, it basically does the same when you are in X right?

    @Distro Queen: I am well aware Ctrl-Alt-Del does nothing on Ubuntu, right now. I am saying that the way it works in Windows is better, especially for users who don’t want to learn the command line (which is most) and those that don’t want to lose everything they have open.

  4. >Come on, Ctrl-Alt-Del is not better–it’s familiar (to Windows users). I don’t see how that has any bearing on the problem.

    For reference, right now, in Ubuntu:

    1. The vga framebuffer (for higher resolutions with no splash during boot) doesn’t work out of the box.
    2. Alt+SysRq doesn’t work.
    3. Alt+Ctrl F[1-6] barely works due to GDM.
    4. Alt+Ctrl+Bkspc is being opted-out.
    5. Fn+F[1-12] (for switching display output) doesn’t work.

    I guess it’s time to switch to Debian.

  5. >Alt+SysRq doesn’t work on a lot of laptops (including mine).

    Fortunately if you use Kubuntu you have a GUI checkbox to restore the previous behavior or if you use Ubuntu you can install the package dontzap and do it on the command line.

  6. >Yeah, we need remove all ways to escape from bug halted system… just like Windows (c)(TM).

    Remove any hot-keys! Why user
    should read manuals and see to menus?

    I'm just pressed delete and all my text was deleted, so bad! I'm just pressed Alt-F4 and my browser was gone, so bad! Throw out keyboard, use only on screen keyboard without alt/control/delete/backspace and so on and right mouse click to copy&paste!

    Yeah, you are right!

  7. >@psilva – It’s not better because of the familiar shortcut keys, it’s better because it provides an EASIER way to recover a broken system, for users who are not experts at the command line.

  8. >Removing Ctrl-Alt-backspace is ridiculous. That’s a strength of Linux over Windows: providing a GUI while still providing “power user” features. Why not removing any terminal in a second step then? Since “most users will never use it”…

  9. >I Can not see why c-a-d is better than c-a-bs. It is just stupid. I don’t know whose brilliant idea was to turn off c-a-bs.
    I hate when people say, that the user shouldn’t known about how his/her machine works. She/he should know it and life would be easier for everybody.

  10. >I’m in favour of dropping the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace by default in Ubuntu, but I think you seriously misunderstand the purpose of the key combo.

    It is not the alternative to C-A-D for recovering from runaway processes, we have the System Monitor utility for that.

    The purpose of C-A-B and/or C-A-F1 is the equivalent of when the Windows desktop locks up and you need to do a cold reboot to get control back.

  11. >ow can one press accidentally to ctrl+alt+space? it’s made that way so that people don’t press it accidentally.

  12. >”Why should our users need to know the command line, if there system goes crazy? They should not.”

    but it should be possible to fallback to the cli for those who know (or who are willing to learn)

    i think it’s unfair to scrap away this possibility: IMHO it would rather be better to zap if the combo was pressed twice consecutively

  13. >+1 for keeping ctrl-alt-backspace by default, but i fear we’ll not be heard.

    Otherwise I would +1 for removing Alt-F4, as people could accidentally use it to close their terminal which might have unsaved data…

  14. >I guess it’s time to switch to Debian.

    Only if you want to go through all of this again when they update to xserver 1.6.

    CAB disablement is an *UPSTREAM* change, not Ubuntu-specific. All distros which upgrade to xserver 1.6 will get this change.

    The reason Debian isn’t affected is because they’re on xserver 1.5.

  15. >Sean, since when does a runaway process require a reboot?

    And how does the System monitor help you when the load average is running up?

    If it’s a GUI based process that has run away, C+A+BS is a better help than a reboot!

    I agree its a concern that features are being removed, undocumented!

  16. >I believe what we should be getting at here is why the button combination and functionality are being removed rather than changed.

    I’m very much FOR the ability to do what ctrl-alt-bakspace does,
    I’m against the key combination chosen.

    CTRL and ALT are common use modifiers and many applications use them, backspace is equally common in use.. thus the chance of an accidental press is high.

    But why are we disabling the functionality altogether rather than just changing the combo to something less common!

  17. >I hate ignorants, who say "it's too hard for me to remember that X does Y, so we'll remove X for everyone cos I don't like it and don't feel like reading the f.. manual."

    Why should other sane people adapt to the moronic way of doing things, just because there are so much more idiots nowadays?

    Wrong way… My ass. When it took down your X session.. it should just decapitate you instead.

  18. >If anyone is wondering why they keep getting print screens, its because the Key combo is actually: Right alt + shift + K + prtsc

  19. >SysRq needs to be turned on for people to use it on Linux. I read that. Don't know how to but it'll explain why some users can't access these useful and long standing features

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