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[answering because i can't comment]

We have the same problem. In our case, it was an upgrade to Fedora 16 that caused this. You didn't by any chance update to Fedora 16 at some point, did you? Seems extraordinarily unlikely, but i have to ask.

We see this under GNOME 3 and Xfce.

We have noticed that we can still use the escape key to get these behaviours - escape then dot does the same as alt-dot. That's standard; composing with escape is the traditional way of sending a meta on keyboards which lack a meta key. Chording with alt should normally do the same, but doesn't.