Ubuntu 13.10 - Enable "Control+Alt+Backspace to terminate the X server"

Having loaded up Ubuntu GNU/Linux 13.10 on my computer which previously ran the 13.04 version, I have to say that I am quite impressed with the speed improvements and polish this new version brings to this already awesome operating system!! Way to go Canonical and Ubuntu developers!!

One of the things I really love about GNU/Linux is the power I have to customize things in the system to my liking. Rather than force changes down your throat like the other operating systems out there, GNU/Linux gives you the power to choose!! You have the power!!

Usually, after installing the base system, I come back and tweak things a bit to my liking. After all, per the license - I already own this copy of Ubuntu GNU/Linux that's installed on my computer, so I might as well customize it to my liking as much or as little as I like!! This is what Freedom in computing is all about!!

Of course, the developers behind Ubuntu, have made it so I don't need to customize anything at all if I don't want to, and it's still a very easy to use this awesome Ubuntu GNU/Linux anyway!! But when I do want to customize,  I can do this as little or as much "tweaking" as my geek appetite calls for.

Something I always customize in my Ubuntu GNU/Linux, is having Control+Alt+Backspace "kill the session".  This makes it easy to jump out of my logged in session if I've launched something that failed or otherwise screwed things up so I can't operate in the current session.

In Ubuntu 13.04, the aforementioned option was a few short steps to being enabled. It was done by clicking the gear menu by the clock, then System>Preferences>Keyboard, then on the Layouts tab, then clicking Layout options, then under "Key sequence to kill the X server", putting a check by "Ctrl+Alt+Backspace".

In Ubuntu 13.10, it seems the option has been moved around again, because they've polished up the menus a bit more. But, unlike some other systems out there that don't let you easily change things around, in this Ubuntu GNU/Linux - we can still change this setting(and much more) rather easily. So here's how I enabled "Use Control+Alt+Backspace to terminate the X server?":

1.) Hit Control+Alt+t to launch the terminal

2.) Type or paste in the command below into the terminal, hit enter, then authenticate with your user password necessary (below is a one liner):

sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

3.) Hit enter 5 times, or as necessary, to accept the already-set values for the keyboard settings and arrive at the screen to change the behavior for "Control+Alt+Backspace" (see picture above).

4.) At the screen that says, "Use Control+Alt+Backspace to terminate the X server?", hit the left arrow key to select yes, then hit Enter to save the setting and complete the kbd configuration.

Voila! At this point, if you hit Control+Alt+Backspace, you will be exited from your current session! Just make sure you save any open work before testing this out, as it will not save anything automatically.

User Customizations - Another reason to love GNU/Linux!! Get Yours!!

Shannon VanWagner



  1. nice, I was looking for this for quite a while and the option to enable it through the keyboard preferences was not there anymore

  2. Thanks, Shannon! Not exactly a user friendly setting if you have to Google it.

  3. Thanks for this tip. By any chance, do you know a way to set this up directly into command line?

    In the previous version, """echo "setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp" >> ~/.xinitrc""" was the way to do this, but it does not seem to work anymore.

  4. @Autiwa - Something like this should do the trick:
    echo XKBOPTIONS="terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp" >>/etc/default/keyboard
    Note: I suggest you backup /etc/default/keyboard first, just in case.

  5. thank you for this tips, kill x server is a must!

  6. Thank you, Shannon! (pingback from https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/1245064)


Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Comments are moderated by the blog owner and will appear once approved. Need to email me directly? Go to http://shannonvanwagner.com/email-me.php

Popular posts from this blog

How To Connect Ubuntu Linux to Cisco VPN with openconnect (anyconnect-capable alternative)

(updated) How To: Ubuntu 16.04 GNU / Linux - Netgear Wireless AC Adapter AC600 ( AC6100 ) Dual Band

How To Set Default Grub / kernel / boot option on Ubuntu GNU/Linux 14.04