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.

3 Answers 3



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

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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".
  • Is that for gnome or KDE? I am using KDE, and I can not find keyboard preferences anywhere May 3, 2011 at 7:40
  • Sorry, I missed it. I found a KDE solution, but I haven't verified it.
    – Egil
    May 3, 2011 at 8:52
  • doh it was so simple. And I opened that page, but missed kill x server page. thanks May 3, 2011 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? May 5, 2013 at 16:34
  • For Ubuntu 21.10, I now find that this is available as part of the Gnome Tweaks application wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Tweaks
    – RobertG
    Nov 17, 2021 at 9:48

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.

From https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Config/DontZap#Using_the_command_line

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?


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

  • Where are the keyboard preferences? Do I need to install a package? May 3, 2011 at 7:38
  • You will find this in 'applications' its called "keyboard"
    – robin0800
    May 3, 2011 at 7:48
  • I don't see applications anywhere. Are you using KDE or gnome? May 3, 2011 at 7:50
  • Perhaps you can't do this as this is a gnome setting I think
    – robin0800
    May 3, 2011 at 13:35
  • There is a way, but it was changed. See Egil's answer, as it is correct May 3, 2011 at 20:10

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