This is an oldie but worth mentioning in case you don't know. To kill the GUI, for whatever reason, such as a crash, hit [Ctrl ]+[ATt|+[Backspace]. There's no warning dialog boxes when you do this—any open applications will be terminated, and data lost. You'll be returned to the GNOME login screen, where you can login afresh.
if you're working on a virtual console and want to kill the Gui for any reason, typing the following will kill GNOME Display Manager (gdm), which "owns" the desktop processes: $ sudo killall gdm
To get the Gui back following this, start gdm again:
$ sudo gdm
To go on a virtual killing spree within Ubuntu, see Tip 133, on page 176.
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