How to enable Control Alt Backspace to Kill X server on Debian / Ubuntu Linux

kill-X-server-switch-revert-back-to-ctrl-alt-backspace-howto
Being a long time GNU / Linux user, I've been quite dissatisfied for the fact that in latest Debian and Ubuntu Linux, the default Key combination to Kill X (CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE) is no longer working.

Though nowdays Xorg (XServer) is pretty stable it still happens from time to time for some application to overload the PC badly and make Gnome or KDE environment little or no responsive at all and here comes the goody CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE it is pretty much  like  (CTRL + ALT + DEL) did restarted the computer in DOS and earlier Windows OS-es once the environment became unusable with the only difference that just Xorg server is restarted and the other using programs that are in background work just like they used to. 

CTRL + ALT + Backspace is a great thing to use especially if you're running some homebrew server and you use it both as a Server with some few little websites and as a Desktop environment to browse the net and do basic stuff.

So here comes the question how to make the CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE keyboard combination be killing Xserver like in the good old days?

The easiest way to do it interactively in ncurses interface is by  running:

 

root@noah:~# dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

 

If somehow on the machine you don't have dpkg-reconfigure or you prefer to do set CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE Kill Switch manually edit /etc/default/keyboard 

inside change value of

 

XKBOPTIONS="terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp" 

 

like shown below file:

root@noah:/home/hipo# cat  /etc/default/keyboard

# KEYBOARD CONFIGURATION FILE

# Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.

XKBMODEL="pc105"
XKBLAYOUT="us"
XKBVARIANT=""
XKBOPTIONS="terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp"

BACKSPACE="guess"

The configuration should be working across Debian 7, 8, 9 as well as Ubuntu 12 ..14 .. 16 and hopefully in future releases too, just as many other Linux distributions like Mint etc. the Xserver Kill Switch setting should be located in same file.

Finally if even after that change the Control Alt BackSpace Kill Switch sequence refuses to work in GNOME Desktop environment, it might be due to a local setting typical for GNOME and this should be fixed via the good known gnome-tweak-tool

So GNOME users should run it from command line and check the setting there, e.g.:

 

$ gnome-tweak-tool


You should check:


 

Typing -> Kill Sequence to Kill the X Server

 


it should look like shown in below screenshot:

how-to-set-X-server-kill-switch-in-GNOME-gnak-tool-screenshot-debian-stretch

 

 

 

 

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