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The Merits of Control-Alt-Backspace, or Geeks vs. Reality

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For the release of Jaunty, the Ubuntu developers decided to disable the control-alt-backspace shortcut for killing the graphical X session. This move prompted a lot of complaining from advanced users. Although I personally sympathize with these people, their grievances reflect the all-too-common tendency of a minority of geeky users to rise up in arms about trivial features, impeding the progress of things that matter.

As a comparatively advanced Ubuntu user, I quite liked the control-alt-backspace feature, which came in handy for logging out of Gnome quickly or dealing with X crashes. In Jaunty, I now have to go to the trouble of clicking the logout button when I want to end my session, or switching to a virtual terminal and restarting GDM if the X server freezes. This is a bit frustrating, and Canonical’s claim that control-alt-backspace was disabled for the benefit of users who accidentally pressed those keys seems silly, since a user would really have to go out of her way to kill X unintentionally using that shortcut.

That said, being an advanced user also means I’m more than capable of restoring the control-alt-backspace functionality if I want to.

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