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This has always upset me and I finallly found a solution to when X freezes and you can't ctrl-alt-backspace. All you need to do is ssh in from another machine, kill X and restart X using startx, -- no need to reboot --.
I have killed X before but it just leaves the screen foobar'd and I thought that all that there is left to do is reboot, however by issuing a startx everyhting is fixed and you can once again use your machine.
1) find the pid of your X server:
ps -e | grep X
2) kill X
kill -9 PID_FROM_ABOVE
3) restart X
Hope other poeple find this,
it took me 4-ever to figure this out.
Hopefully you can use the same principles on your system.
I've had the same issue, and tried the top (kill X then restart it) in my ubuntu 10.04 w. KDE 4, and got the same problems - logged out etc. However I don't need to restart X that often, so now instead of loggin in to KDE in the first place I start with a plain console login and then start X - then the original solution seems to work, at least with GNOME.