Alt-Tab and Workspace Switcher shortcuts aren't working on Xubuntu 21.10

dz flag

I have switched from Ubuntu Desktop to Xubuntu desktop because Ubuntu no longer supports desktop icons. Unfortunately, in the move I seem to have lost the ability to cycle windows with Alt+Tab and the ability to change workspaces with Ctrl+Alt + cursor keys.

I've tried:

  • checking the contents of ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts.xml: it has the expected (and confusing) contents that seem to work for everyone else

  • changing the key definition in Settings → Window Manager → Keyboard. Even deleting them, logging out, logging back in, redefining them makes no difference.

  • checking that the keys on my preferred keyboard are generating the right scan codes using xev.

There may be some conflicting setting hanging about from the regular Ubuntu installation, but I can't locate where they might be. I have tried the answers in How to restore app switcher hotkey Alt Tab in xfce4? to no avail.

sa flag

For me (and many other people) Alt-Tab somehow gets disabled when using Thunderbird and Wayland together, seemingly after one sends a first message with Thunderbird. It's probably something about the "sending message" window not getting terminated correctly. Anyway, see bug 1932328, but the comment 18 fix, putting Thunderbird into XWayland mode, which worked for me, seems to be a fix for many other users.

Another workaround can be to go to keyboard shortcuts and swap Alt-tab and Alt-esc. The latter is "direct window switching" and is similar but different to alt-tab switching. More visually distracting but same functionality.

scruss avatar
dz flag
I'm not running Wayland, but this answer might help someone else
dz flag

I've solved this, but not in a way that identified the cause.

Because this is a system that's been upgraded through many versions of Ubuntu Desktop (possibly starting with 16.04), and now migrated over to Xubuntu Desktop 21.10, my ~/.config folder was full of extraneous and perhaps contradictory junk.

Here's how I resolved the issue:

  1. moved the contents of ~/.config to a new ~/Desktop/dotconfig folder
  2. logged out
  3. logged back in. At this point, Alt+Tab started to work again, confirming that there were conflicting configuration settings before
  4. Carefully restored files/folders from ~/Desktop/dotconfig back to ~/.config that I knew I'd have a use for. Any new files or folders in ~/.config that Xubuntu had recently created I didn't overwrite.

There are a few settings that I still need to restore - I've lost my beloved Compose key bindings, for one - but the system behaves much more like I'd expect now.

scruss avatar
dz flag
... and now there's seemingly no way that <kbd>Compose</kbd> will work. All the tools I have available say the correct key is defined, yet it does nothing

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