18 Oct 2011

Oneiric Upgrade Breaks Readline (Alt-B and Alt-F) in gnome-terminal

Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot (11.10) pulls in gnome-terminal 3.0

As with all distribution upgrades, the recently-released Oneiric Ocelot (Ubuntu 11.10) pulls in a slew of package upgrades. One of those upgrades was gnome-terminal, which was bumped from version 2.32.1 to 3.0.1. Unfortunately, this upgrade introduced a major problem for someone used to using Alt+B and Alt+F to move around the command line (for moving one word backward and forward, respectively).

By default, Alt-F opens the File menu. This behavior catches me off-guard every time I begin using the terminal in a freshly-installed environment. The problem was easily fixed, however, by deselecting ViewShow Menubar. This change can be made permanent by going to EditProfile Preferences and deselecting Show menubar by default in new terminals.

The latest gnome-terminal introduces Unity awareness

With the upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10, however, this change is no longer enough. Even with the option set as laid out above, gnome-terminal swallows Alt-B and Alt-F (though it does still allow Alt-Backspace for deleting the previous word). If you are used to using shortcuts like this, you will understand the frustration of having your workflow (and thought process) interrupted when a productive habit no longer works.

The fix

Go to EditKeyboard Shortcuts and deselect Enable menu access keys (such as Alt+F to open the File menu). Breathe easy as your command-line effectiveness returns to you.

Thanks go to Bryan Murdock whose old blog post pointed me in the right direction.