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Suddenly, I am not able to use any combination of meta keys. The Alt key is not working at all in my emacs. Can anyone help me on this issue?

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A quick workaround is that hitting escape before another key acts as Meta+key_you_pressed. It's better to figure out what's causing the problem but hopefully this helps for the time being. – Dason Dec 12 '11 at 18:41
@Dason Thanks for the comment. It works, but only once. I have to hit escape every time before any Meta command. Weird. I wish I can find what is causing this. – NeoJi Dec 12 '11 at 18:54
Could it be that the terminal window is capturing <key>Alt</key> and attempting to use it to access it's menus (eg: File, Edit, etc..) – drevicko Mar 2 '12 at 4:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I fixed this in my Ubuntu Terminal app by going in the menu: Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts and deselecting the 'Enable menu access keys (such as Alt+F to open the File menu)'.

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My VNC server had to be restarted with an extra option -compatiblekbd like this example:

vncserver -geometry 2549x1476 :17 -compatiblekbd

Once I added that and restarted my server, the meta key started working as I expect it to.

Note that -compatiblekbd must come after the display number (e.g. :17) or it is interpreted as an argument to -compatiblekbd.

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