Have you ever wondered what the Linux equivalent of CTRL-ALT-DEL in Windows is? Many Linux fans say in Linux an application cannot bring down the whole system. Well, it can. It happens rarely, but it does happen. Here is what you can do for example in Ubuntu, which uses Gnome:

  • With Ctrl-Alt-BackSpace you can kill the whole X-Server Window System (or your GUI session) and return to the login prompt.
  • If an app blocks the whole system, you can press Ctrl-Alt-F1 (or F2 through F6) to get a console and kill the evil process with ps aux or ps -e | grep program_name and kill -9. Finally go back to your display manager with ctl+alt+f7
  • In Gnome, you can add the System Monitor to the Panel. When you click on one of the monitors (for processor, memory, network or harddisk), a graphical list of processes opens, similar to the Task Manager in Windows, and you can stop processes through the context menu.
  • In Gnome you can also press Alt+F2, type in xkill, press enter, and kill the non-responding application. KDE is still different..

Is this so much better than the famous Ctrl-Alt-Del in Windows? I am not sure.. Anyway, it looks like this is a very operating system specific feature. For Mac OS X, there is no ALT key, but you have an option key instead and two Command or Apple keys. Option-Command-Esc brings up a force-quit menu. You can also open the activity monitor (by opening Spotlight with the shortcut Command-spacebar and typing “act”).

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