Restoring C-A-backspace to Xorg server

Recent versions of Xorg have removed the old stalwart key combination of pressing CTRL-ALT-BKSPACE to kill the X server. I’m not sure why this was removed. I can only guess that such a drastic way of exiting your X session, without of course asking if you need to save any of your documents, was regarded as a non-desktop way of doing things. Although I like this key combo I can see this reasoning only too well.

If, like me, you like this behaviour to be restored then there are a few ways of doing so.

  • If you use .xinitrc or .xsession to manage your X session, then simply run this command from there:

    setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp

    On Gentoo (the distro I use) you’ll need to emerge the following package:

  • If you use HAL to manage input devices, copy the following few lines into the fdi file from /etc/hal/fdi/policy/ which you use to control your keyboard.

    Incidentally HAL was deprecated as of 1.8 in favour of udev. So if your distro uses Xorg.18 or higher you’ll need to find a different way

     <merge key="input.xkb.options" type="string">terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp</merge> 

    (If you do not have any custom keyboard rules, you can copy and adapt rules from /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-x11-input.fdi)

  • Finally you can edit xorg.conf with the following code to your keyboard’s InputDevice section :

     Option "XkbOptions" "terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp".




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