I'm using Ubuntu 12.04 with Xfce 4.8. Only in some applications, namely TexStudio (v2.6.6) and TexMaker (v4.1), Ctrl+I inserts one Tab character instead of making text italic.
How do I troubleshoot such a keyboard shortcut (mapping) issue?
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Control I is Tab (I is character code 73 and control subtracts 64 leaving character code 9 which is TAB). Whether that code inserts a character into your document or does something in your editor depends on your editor. Personally I have never used an editor where Ctrl-i makes anything italic, but there may be one I suppose.