Staring at a crashed Gnome session, CTRL-ALT-BKSPC does nothing. ALT-CTRL-F1 won’t bring you to a terminal where you could cd to /etc/init.d and restart gdm.
There’s two more options that you may not have known about
Here are two ways to first try and kill just the process on your current terminal and if that fails, to bring your machine down in a more graceful manner than a hard shutdown.
First, we’ll try and kill all the process on your current terminal. To do this, hold down the following keys –
ALT + SysReq + k
SysReq key means you need to Look for it on your PrtSc or Print Screen key. The k in this instance stands for Kill.
You’ll now enter a series of keystrokes that will tell your computer to do some housekeeping before shutting down.
ALT + SysReq + r
This stands for Raw keyboard mode.
ALT + SysReq + s
This syncs the disk.
ALT + SysReq + e
This terminates all processes
ALT + SysReq + i
Kill’s all processes that weren’t terminated nicely.
ALT + SysReq + u
Remounts all filesystems as read only.
ALT + SysReq + b
this is indeed very useful, I sometimes manage to ssh into a crashed GNOME session machine if I have a second machine nearby, else I used to do a RESET button command (and pray to the gods of fsck). Many thanks for the tip, I will try this next time I get a screen where only the mouse moves.
Is there any graphical result after each keystroke that tells me if it worked? My Fedora 10 just crashed in a way just like you describe where Ctrl+Alt+Bkspc nor Ctrl+Alt+F1 work and I did the key combinations you suggested but nothing happened, is this a debian-only feature? is there an a similar hack for red hat systems?