At least every Linux system that I worked with used the convention to switch to the non-graphical consoles by Ctrl-Alt-F1, Ctrl-Alt-F2 and so on.

Recently, I installed CentOS 6.3 on a machine. The installation is non-customized and uses Gnome 2.

To my surprise Alt-F4 switches to console. Alt-F1 then brings you back to the XServer. How can I change the keybinding to Ctrl-Alt instead of simply Alt?

It also seems to bypass Gnome's key bindings. In Gnome, I tried to define Alt-F4 as close window, but it does not work but still switches to the console.

  • Are you sure you don't just have a bad Ctrl key on your keyboard? Jan 1, 2013 at 2:05
  • @MichaelHampton The keyboard itself is fine, but as it seems there was a temporary software problem. After restarting the machine, the problem is gone. Jan 1, 2013 at 13:43
  • I have this problem Too... I use Manjaro... Had you solve your problem?
    – user102150
    Feb 6, 2015 at 13:41
  • @Jao I did not find the reason why it sometimes happened, nor was I able to reliably reproduce it. As I didn't use that CentOS installation myself on a daily basis, I have only seen that strange behaviour when I initially set up the system. Feb 6, 2015 at 16:37
  • Parallels Desktop on Mac, with CentOS 6.8 Virtual Machine, same problem, ALT + F4 switches to console, ALT + F1 back to the XServer.
    – Albert
    Jun 30, 2016 at 10:40

1 Answer 1


The problem vanished after a restart. I can only speculate about the reasons. It is possible to set CTRL per software. Maybe that happened. I didn't mess around with keymap or anything like that, so I don't know what caused the problem.

Sorry, for the false alarm. :-(


From time to time, the problem repeats. It vanishes with a restart. I still don't know why.


Had the problem again on two Arch Linux systems. It occurred exactly after a Linux kernel update, but before the system was rebooted. After the reboot, the problem was gone on both systems.

  • 1
    Same problem on Ubuntu 18.04 with Unity, also fixed by rebooting. Interestingly, after logging back in, the window I was trying to close actually closes. Also, Alt+Left and Alt+Right (arrow keys) also flip through TTYs when the problem is occurring. This is annoying because that's supposed to go forward an backward in a web browser.
    – Nateowami
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:24
  • Same problem here. Sep 6, 2018 at 19:29

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