Ubuntu has moved on to “Unity“, and Gnome has evolved to version 3‘s “Gnome Shell“, but many people (like myself) still prefer to use the old “Classic” desktop – be it the old Gnome 2 version, or the “Fallback Mode” of Gnome 3 (users of 11.10 upwards have no choice but to use the Gnome 3 version).
While the 2 versions of the “Classic” interface do have some differences – no “System” menu in Gnome 3 (read this if this is your only concern), and having to hold Alt while right-clicking it to access options – both have panels that are much more customisable (and infinitely more useful) than what “Unity” and “Gnome Shell” currently offer.
But things can go awry, like after doing some tweaking, or installing a program, or having to do a hard reboot, and you can find your panel altered (particularly minus the menus), or even completely missing. So we’ll look at a few different scenarios, and how to rectify them, including how to force Gnome to reset your menus back to their defaults (which is probably the quickest and easiest method). Also, because I’ve seen a lot of newbies in forums say “My Applications menu is missing!” when they should be saying “My top panel has totally vanished!”, we’ll look at how to get your panel back as well.
Finally, because some will need to take a harder approach (or just prefer an easier one), we’ll look at how to totally reset your panels back to their defaults. This is by far the most drastic measure, but it’s quick and easy, and for most people there are no customisations to worry about losing. Besides, if your panel has totally died or vanished, and nothing else you’ve tried has worked, then it’s the only option left.
Try A Quick Panel Restart:
First off, it might be enough to simply refresh the panel by forcing it to close then re-open, which can be done by a reboot, or logging out, or simply entering the following command into the terminal or via Alt+F2:
It pays to do that first, in case that’s all that’s really needed, but chances are you’ve already tried logging out or rebooting, so check out the following tips.
Restore Missing Menus to Panel:
If just your main menu (the “Applications” and “Places” menus, and the “System” menu in Gnome 2) is missing, then perhaps all you need to do is add the menu back to your panel. Right-click an empty area of your panel (holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choose “Add to Panel…“, then scroll down till you find “Menu Bar” (ignore “Main Menu“, as that is a small icon version), and drag it to the left area of your panel.
If it’s conceivable that you perhaps accidentally right-clicked the menu and hit “Remove From Panel“, then it might pay to do this, especially if you have panel customisations you don’t want to lose.
Force Reset of Main Menus:
If you can’t add the menus back to your panel, for example you can’t invoke “Add to Panel…” with a right-click, it’s time to reset the menus to their defaults, which is done by deleting some configuration files. Actually, technically you’re not deleting anything, as the 2 files in question are simply renamed with .bak extensions [so they’re still there if you really need them later], forcing Gnome to recreate those files with default values.
To force Gnome to rewrite its panel menus with default values, enter the following command into a terminal:
mv ~/.config/menus/applications.menu ~/.config/menus/applications.menu.bak && mv ~/.config/menus/settings.menu ~/.config/menus/settings.menu.bak
(That should work with either Gnome 2 or 3, though the settings menu part of it probably won’t do anything in Gnome 3).
All you have to do now is log out, then once you log back in again, your panel should be back with all its menus. Or you can simply enter killall gnome-panel into the terminal and it should successfully refresh your panels without having to log out.
Make a New Top Panel if Missing:
If your panel is absent, you could have even accidentally deleted it yourself, if you unwittingly right-clicked the panel and chose “Delete This Panel” (in Gnome 2 – in Gnome 3 that is harder to do, since you need to be holding Alt while right-clicking the panel). But don’t immediately blame yourself, as all sorts of mishaps can result in a missing panel.
Whatever the case, you should be able to recreate your top panel simply by right-clicking the bottom panel (while holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choosing “New Panel“. You’d then move it to the top, then right-click it (holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choose “Add to Panel…” to add back all the various bits and pieces you had before (the “default” panel is actually a blank panel with a bunch of plugins added).
Obviously, this would be the most time-consuming method, but if you plan to customise your panel anyway, you may as well start from scratch. However, the easiest method would be to totally reset your panels, so keep reading.
Force A Complete Panel Reset:
When all else fails, it’s time to force Gnome to completely reset your panels, which is done by deleting the configuration files. That might sound drastic, and in reality this really is the last resort, but if your panel is totally messed up, chances are your old settings are useless anyway, or rather that having to stick some launchers back on a clean panel will be a welcome alternative to having no panel, or one that is buggy, or missing the “Applications” menu or whatever.
To force Gnome to recreate its panels with default values, enter the following commands into a terminal:
--recursive-unset /apps/panel (This wipes the panel’s settings)
rm -rf ~/.gconf/apps/panel (This deletes the panel’s folders and files)
killall gnome-panel (This forces the panel to close and restart)
Your panel should now be back with all its menus (but of course minus any customisations). If for some reason they don’t appear immediately, a reboot should fix it.
Alternative Commands for Panel Reset:
ΔΔΔ Some guides have gconftool-2
--shutdown as the first command (this shuts down the current user’s gconfd), though gconftool
--recursive-unset /apps/panel should work perfectly fine without it. However, if you aren’t having success, then run it first.
ΔΔΔ If you’re running the commands via the Alt+F2 Run Application box, chances are it won’t like the tilde (~) in the second command, so use rm -rf $HOME/.gconf/apps/panel instead.
ΔΔΔ Instead of killall gnome-panel, you can use pkill gnome-panel (which is basically the same thing), or nohup gnome-panel
--replace &, or nohup gnome-panel
--replace </dev/null &>/dev/null & (note that nohup specifies the command not halt when the terminal is closed, so is not needed if using Alt+F2).
ΔΔΔ If you’d rather make a backup of the panel’s files before deleting them, run mv ~/.gconf/apps/panel ~/Settings/PanelBackup (note the second path can be whatever you want; in this case, it’s a folder called PanelBackup inside a Settings folder within my home folder I have for storing various config files and settings backup). It actually moves the whole folder to a new location, which is basically the same as deleting it, so you shouldn’t need to run the second command (since there is nothing left there to delete, anyway).
Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!