Restore ctrl+alt+backspace Usage in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
By on October 30th, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala has ctrl+alt+backspace turned off by default. ctrl+alt+backspace is the key combination used to restart the X server. The reasons for this disabling are unclear. One good thing though, is that it is only disabled and not removed.

To re-enable the ctrl+alt+backspace behavior you need to edit two files. This will enable the setting for all distros with a  Xorg Server version 1.6.0 and lower.

Edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file as root. Add the section:

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "DontZap" "false"

For Karmic Koala, with Xorg 1.6.3, you need to edit a second file. Edit the file /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-keymap.fdi as root and add the line:

<merge key="input.xkb.options" type="string">terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp</merge>

That will do the trick.

It you are uncomfortable with all these editing, you can simply do it the Lifehacker way.

Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard Settings. Look for the Layouts tab, expand the “Key sequence to kill the X server”, click the check box next to “Control + Alt + Backspace”. See the post at Lifehacker here.

Author: Chinmoy Kanjilal Google Profile for Chinmoy Kanjilal
Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

Chinmoy Kanjilal has written and can be contacted at

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