My desktop used to have icons… And when I right-clicked on it, a fancy little menu came up that let me do things to it. It is now missing in action – and I think I might know why.
This afternoon, I was tidying up my home folder, carelessly deleting some crap that I didn’t think I needed anymore, when I deleted a folder called file: that seemed only to contain the the directories /home/jon/Desktop. I drilled all the way down into this directory, concluded that it was empty, and deleted it. A few moments later, my desktop disappeared.
Edit: I restored the folder to it’s original location and restarted the machine; Everything was back to normal, but I don’t understand the significance of that directory. It doesn’t appear to contain anything, even from a root terminal.