Panels and taskbars missing in Xubuntu (Xfce)

Q I am new to Linux having loaded Xubuntu. Since loading this has been upgraded by the inbuilt facility and the Grub screen now tells me that I am loading 'ubuntu 7.10, kernel 2.6.22-14-generic'. My problem is that I have lost the panels, or taskbars, from the desktop and can therefore no longer reach and activate the various applications. This occurred once before, but at that point I was still using the Xfce desktop and so a right-click brought up the Applications menu and I was able to change settings. This time I had changed to a Gnome desktop and the right-click only enables me to bring another icon on to the desktop or a few other unhelpful alternatives. It would seem to me that if I could reactivate the Xfce desktop from a terminal I could get a useful computer back.

A There are two separate questions here: how to switch back to Xfce and how to restore the Gnome panel. The first is the simplest to answer, at the login screen, click on 'Session' below the login/password box and select Xfce as your desktop. You will now log into the Xfce desktop you had before, after having the option to make this the new default. Gnome is not installed with Xubuntu and is not included in an update either, so you must have installed Gnome yourself at some time. While it is possible to delete panels, Gnome will not normally allow you to delete the last one - ie, there must always be one panel running. To check that gnome-panel is running, and restart it if necessary, run gnome-panel from a terminal. This should give you an error dialog about a panel already running. You can kill this panel process, forcing Gnome to start a new one, with

killall gnome-panel

Your panel may now reappear - if it doesn't, the panel is either hidden, invisible or of a very small size. To change the properties of your panel, even when you cannot see it, run gconf-editor in your terminal. Navigate to Apps > Panel > toplevels > panel_0. From here you can change many of the settings for the panel, even if you cannot see it. Click on an item in the Name column to see a description; click in the Value column to change it. Once you have got your panel back, you may find that it is empty, in which case you will need to reinstate the applets you need. Right-click on the place in the panel you want an applet to appear and select "Add to panel..." To add the main application menus, choose Menu Bar (not Main Menu) from the bottom of the list.

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