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I've recently lost my window options, had to somehow manipulate my way to Xchat and ask some people how do I get it back (it was metacity --replace, and after I decided to stop the command and run it in background the X was completely useless so I had to do killall -u user). And that was after the internet connection stopped working for some reason (might've been the ISP).

The thing is, after using linux a long time, I still get the feeling that on dire situations, I don't know the good tricks (stuff like metacity --replace). I feel like a really need like a "rescue" cheatsheet for things like:

  • how to save the X no matter what without pressing reset
  • how to reset the system to "normal state"
  • how to connect to the internet through the command line
  • how to monitor what the X is doing (using ubuntu linux 10.04 btw)
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up vote 7 down vote accepted


If it's working: Ctrl-Alt-Backspace.

Ctrl-Alt-F[1-6] go to terminal.

Ctrl-Alt-F7 - go to X

Restart XDM in most distros:

/etc/init.d/xdm restart

Or find X processes PIDs

ps aux|grep "[Xx]"

and kill them. Then start new X


X logs: /var/log/Xorg.0.log


Using dhcp:

dhclient interface 

Interface could be eth0. Without

ifconfig ...



(see man for more)

Not sure how Ubuntu works, but i think you can restart your network connecting using some kind of /etc/init.d script. Check server guide. Not sure, but I think that works for desktop edition too.

Other stuff

Useful terminal programs:

  • lynx,links - internet browsers
  • irssi - IRC client
  • mc - file manager
  • mcedit - simplest file editor ever
  • GNU and system utils - basic like: cat, tail, head, cp, rm, mv - must know!
  • top, ps - display Linux tasks
  • free - memory usage (but remember to look at buffors table, not mem)
  • man :)

Magic Resq Key

Wikibooks Freezes

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I may add that from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, you can't directly call /etc/init.d. Just call "service" instead. Also, xdm can refer to kdm or gdm, whichever desktop you use. Also, of "useful terminal programs", I would add "pico" as a text editor. Or "vim", if you know how to use it, but it is not installed by default on Ubuntu (though I think it is on most other distros). – petersohn May 20 '10 at 18:04
I have two more apps on my mind. mc - file manager mcedit - very basic and very simple editor. – gogiel May 20 '10 at 19:18
@petersohn: you can still use /etc/init.d/<service> <action>, and not all services have been converted to use Upstart yet anyway. – ThatGraemeGuy May 20 '10 at 20:07
ohh, I printed it out before you added the extra commands :) – Asaf May 20 '10 at 20:16
@Graeme: But you must use "service" for gdm/kdm (for me it only worked that way). @gogiel: Do not forget find, dd. Anything else? – petersohn May 20 '10 at 21:27

I'm a programmer, so I use git daily.

I have found git very useful for monitoring changes (and eventually restoring in emergency cases) changes in config files.


On my Ubuntu 10.04 LTS I do:

sudo /etc/init.d/network-manager restart


sudo service network-manager restart
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I also use git, however I don't really understand where does git come to place on these commands? – Asaf May 20 '10 at 20:48
Well, my answer has two parts: git for undoing things when in trouble; and the commands extending @petersohn's comment. – takeshin May 21 '10 at 20:18

I know this isn't exactly what your looking for, but I found this .pdf to be a good resource for figuring out ubuntu. (Plus its free...which is always nice.)

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