February 22, 2010 | Linux/Unix

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The Ubuntu Panel is a system panel that appears at the top of the screen in Ubuntu. Unlike Windows, Ubuntu has two panels: one on top, and one on the bottom.

I have the top panel set to auto-hide. But, the other day, it hung for some reason. Here’s how to fix it.

The Ubuntu Panel

The top panel contains the Applications, Places (file manager and bookmarks), and System (preferences) menus. It can also contain applets, time/weather, notifications, or anything else you want to put there. The bottom panel contains a button for each running application, and a desktop switcher (there are multiple desktops in Ubuntu and other Linuxes).

Auto-hide not working

I usually set the top panel to hide automatically. This opens up 24 pixels more of screen space, which I find handy. You can set this by right-clicking on the panel, selecting Properties, and checking the Autohide checkbox:

Normally, after setting Autohide on, it stays out of your way. When you move the mouse pointer all the way to the top of the screen it appears and it’ll stay visible as long as you stay on the panel.

Once in a while, it’ll stay visible even when you move your mouse away. That’s usually fixable by moving the mouse to the top of the screen and back down again.

But, the other day, it wouldn’t hide. I could turn Autohide on and off again, but it would just stay there.

The solution: you can just kill the program responsible for the panel. Once you kill it, it’ll start again, so you won’t lose the panel for the duration of your session.

To kill it, you just enter the following into a terminal:

killall gnome-panel

You can also open GNOME System Monitor, a graphical process viewer, from System > Administration > System Monitor. The Processes tab should already be visible. Click on the Process Name column to sort by that column. Then find “gnome-panel”. It’s a sub-task of “gnome-session”. Select it, and click on the End Process button in the lower right hand corner of System Monitor.

The GNOME Panel will die and restart.

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