Does anyone know if the ctrl-alt-keypad+ to zoom or change resolution is removed from the nouveau driver?
I've never heard of such a binding. I assume that is WM/DE depentent. I'd be surprised if the video driver did any key binding, but you can easily bind a combination in X to call xrandr to change the resolution.
No, this is an old function that has always been around since the early days of Xfree86 and of course xorg, it has nothing to with the WM/DE. Just google and you see really a lot about it:
It is a way to cycle through the different resolution modes and can be set up to either change resolution or to zoom (to make the view larger than the screen).