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It used to be ctrl+alt+backspace to kill x server, but for some unknown reason, it was decided to disable that combination and use something else (I think it is right alt + printscreen +k).

So, how to enable ctrl+alt+backspace?

I have seen it can be done with installing dontzap, but I know there is a way to set that combination from system setup.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted


Open the keyboard preferences (Search for keyboard in Dash), go to the Layout tab and press Options. Open Key sequece to kill the X server and toggle Control + Alt + Backspace

enter image description here


I don't run KDE so I can't verify it or make a pretty screenshot, but according to the Ubuntu Wiki, you do as follows:

  • Open System Settings

KDE 4.1 - KDE 4.5

  • Select "Regional & Language"

  • Select "Keyboard Layout".

  • Click on "Enable keyboard layouts" (in the Layout tab).

  • Select the "Advanced" tab. Then select "Key sequence to kill the X server" and enable "Control + Alt + Backspace".

KDE 4.6+

  • Select Input Devices under the heading Hardware
  • Select Advanced Tab

  • Click on Configure Keyboard Options

  • Enable "Key sequence to kill the X server" and enable "Control + Alt + Backspace".
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Is that for gnome or KDE? I am using KDE, and I can not find keyboard preferences anywhere – BЈовић May 3 '11 at 7:40
Sorry, I missed it. I found a KDE solution, but I haven't verified it. – Egil May 3 '11 at 8:52
doh it was so simple. And I opened that page, but missed kill x server page. thanks – BЈовић May 3 '11 at 9:06
I tried to disable it but it seems to take no effect: that combo still kills "everything" :( any ideas what might be happening? – nutty about natty May 5 '13 at 16:34

Navigate to the keyboard preferences, choose layout and then options. You will find the ctrl+alt+backspace there, just tick it and your good to go

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Where are the keyboard preferences? Do I need to install a package? – BЈовић May 3 '11 at 7:38
You will find this in 'applications' its called "keyboard" – robin0800 May 3 '11 at 7:48
I don't see applications anywhere. Are you using KDE or gnome? – BЈовић May 3 '11 at 7:50
Perhaps you can't do this as this is a gnome setting I think – robin0800 May 3 '11 at 13:35
There is a way, but it was changed. See Egil's answer, as it is correct – BЈовић May 3 '11 at 20:10

If you are looking for a solution which is independent of Gnome/KDE/Fluxbox or any Desktop Environment or Window Manager, try the following. This command is part of the X Window System.


Using the command line

You can type the following command to enable Zapping immediately.

setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp

If you're happy with the new behaviour you can add that command to your ~/.xinitrc in order to make the change permanent.

I have provided more information in my answer to 10.10 How can I enable Ctrl+Alt+Backspace?

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