Kill X in Ubuntu with dontzap

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They did because they now

Fernandoc's picture

They did because they now use upstart and that combo is deprecated???

Don't know that have a package

richerVE's picture

The disabled Ctrl+Alt+Backspace is a feature (problem) of 1.5 and later, not a Ubuntu's idea. In other distros you have to set DontZap to false in Section Serverflags of xorg.conf. And then edit some HAL rules for the keyboard to enable key combination. Nice touch in ubuntu

They have probably disabled

Anonymous's picture

They have probably disabled that combination to protect novice users, who doesn't know what that combination does. Just imagine: you ask your friend for help. Your friend says that all you have to do is press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to solve your problem. You press it... and your X is gone. The project you've been working on for a couple of hours (that you didn't save) is also lost.

Anyway, there *is* a reason for that, but advanced users would like it back, since it's a really useful feature.


Ubuntu has really screwed up

JimL's picture

From the Ubuntu wiki -

"however this will change starting with 9.04 "Jaunty", as a number of users have complained about accidentally restarting their X-Server."

They don't know what a "number of users" is yet. Just wait until they get 100 times as many complaints about the "new" feature.


A Possible Reason

Mark M's picture

I too noticed weeks ago that ctrl+alt+backspace was removed along with dontzap from the repository. I enjoyed having the capability when X Windows would hang due to an errant application. One possible explanation for removing this capability is to hide the functionality of the X Windows system to make Linux distributions seem more like a commercial operating system or possibly security. Frankly being able to kill the GUI and get a ASCII login prompt isn't very slick looking.

For those of us who have grown up with *nix, we understand the layering of X Windows and GNOME/KDE/etc. for our pretty GUI OS, but most users don't understand the heritage. Apple hid all of the complexities of UNIX from the user with OS X by building their own GUI on top of the Mach kernel. I think it is about time to dump the 70's technology of X Windows and build a new GUI/windowing system from the ground up for Linux.

One example why I'm sticking with CentOS

Sum Yung Gai's picture

This is why I'm sticking with CentOS. It "just works" and doesn't get in my way. It just does what I tell it to do without argument. I used to use Kubuntu Jaunty, but I finally gave up 'cause of KDE 4.x. It doesn't do what I want it to do, and therefore it's too much of a pain in the backside for me to want to use it. To a lesser degree, Fedora has the same problem.

You said we could use a new modern replacement for X11. That actually wouldn't be a bad idea. The problem is that all the existing features of X11 would also need to be supported. Sort of a "backwards compatibility" mode. Remember, X11 isn't just a graphics engine, it's also a network protocol. You've got things like LTSP and other thin client architectures that depend on X11. So, maybe what ought to happen is an "X11+", a new mode of operation w/ a new set of API's that any new programs could use, but keep all the existing API's and stuff for all the existing programs. And make it multithreaded. Sort of how Intel/AMD have done with backwards compatibility in x86 processors for the last 30 years.

Oh, it'd also need to be at least as configurable as X11. Sometimes what X11 thinks is the "right" choice isn't what my application needs. I've gotta be able to still tweak things manually when I need to.


Disabled in karmic

mniess's picture

You can completely forget this article in 14 days. dontzap is not available anymore. Editing the xorg.conf by hand doesn't work either. The only thing you can do is use ALT-SysRq-K to kill X. Unfortunately the good old option to reset the screen resolution (CTRL-ALT-+) is gone forever. That was really useful when a program (usually games) switched to a different resolution but didn't switch back. dontzap used to re-enable that, too.

Dontzap is still available

Anonymous's picture

According to the ubuntu wiki it just became an XKB option.

I'm not sure about DontZoom though.


mniess's picture

and what about ctrl-alt-+?

To clarify my above comment,

Anonymous's picture

ctrl-alt-+ = DontZoom, I couldn't find any information about its status.

That totally sucks

Shawn Powers's picture


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.

Ubuntu need to reconsider their decision

cdnmbman's picture

I have no idea why they disabled ctrl+alt+backspace, I've never done it accidentally and not sure who would. I've been using the alt-printscreen+k to kill X when needed (hardly ever have to).
I suspect new users would just reboot, figuring their is no other option.

I agree. The only time I

metalx2000's picture

I agree. The only time I every accidentally hit ctrl+alt+backspace was when I forgot I was in Virtual-Box and hit ctrl+alt+backspace to restart that desktop and I ended up restarting my real X.

But, I use ctrl+alt+backspace to restart X quite often for different reasons.
Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.


goblin's picture

I have no idea why they disabled ctrl+alt+backspace

My PC had a factory-default setting in BIOS, that enabled me to shut down my system instantly with a hotkey combination: ctrl+alt+backspace...

Wow... I can't believe

mattcen's picture

Wow... I can't believe somebody actually wrote a program to do that! Kinda goes to show that there must be *plenty* of people who get annoyed by this new "feature"!

Matthew Cengia