[Data Loss] Ctrl+Alt for switching workspaces is a bad choice.

Bug #184911 reported by Nat Tuck on 2008-01-21
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone

Bug Description

Ctrl+Alt+Bksp forcibly kills the X server. This is a good key combo for an operation that causes you to lose all your work because it is hard to hit by mistake.

But... Ubuntu maps Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow and Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow to switching workspaces. That means that Ctrl+Alt is pressed frequently in normal use, so Ctrl+Alt+Bksp becomes a *single key* mistake rather than a 3 key mistake.

Ctrl+Alt+Bksp has been the standard "forcibly kill the X server" combo basically forever, so that can't really change. But that does mean that Ctrl+Alt is basically taken as the exceptional key combo, and shouldn't be used for anything normal (like workspace switching).

Koen Beek (koen-beek) wrote :

there is a blueprint suggesting the ctrl-alt-backspace should be disabled by default

It might be useful to add your comment to this blueprint

Nat Tuck (nat-ferrus) wrote :

Yea - that blueprint and its comments covers this ground pretty thoroughly.

Red Five (nelson-butterworth) wrote :

I think the proposed blueprint is a really bad idea, and the reasons given by the originator are especially ridiculous. I've copied the arguments below, with my comments.

- There is no need for such a feature for an end user desktop system (you cannot kill the X server in MacOSX...)
Is there a need for a Windows machine to have ctrl-alt-del to get out of a bad situation? Of course that's rhetorical, but I believe that ctrl-alt-bksp is needed in all Linux variants for the same reason. And so what if OS X doesn't have it? Not everything in Ubuntu has to match OS X, does it?

- The typical end user does not know about this feature (it is undocumented and hidden) and it is relatively easy to trigger it by mistake. It can have disastrous consequences.
- If one really needs to kill the X server, he can go to a tty term and do it by hand.
Um, what typical end user is going to know about ctrl-alt-F[1-6], and be able to use that properly? It's not necessarily hidden like c-a-bksp is, but the average end-user is going to freak out if (s)he has to do anything in a terminal. C-a-bksp kills the X server and restarts it, leaving the user at a login prompt. What could be simpler and more useful to the "typical end user"?

I'm not sure that enough thought was given to this idea from the perspective of the typical end user. "...go to a tty term and do it by hand" is too geeky for Grandma, and so is having to use some buried utility to enable a very useful feature. As soon as someone tells Granny to drop to the console, or worse, mention the words tty or term(inal), I bet you'll get your mouth washed out with soap! Come on, designers, you want the average user to be able to use Ubuntu, but then you want to turn off a very useful feature because of uber-geeky thought processes?

gmerrick (at903) wrote :

I'm going to have to agree with Red Five on this. I use CTRL-ALT-Backspace to control rogue programs such as world of warcraft when task switching takes it out. It is also quite usefull when you are messing around with X and something screws up and you want to see if it will happen again.

After the 1st time a user hits backspace accidentally I guarantee you they will not hit it again unless needed. It would be far better to put a radio button or some form of "control" under preferences or control center that people can CHOOSE to enable to disable.

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