F9 seems to insist on using the GNOME display manager, and that display manager, I believe, no longer supports automatic logon.
get Fedora 9 to use KDM instead of GDM as your display manager!
Just create a file /etc/sysconfig/desktop
$ cat /etc/sysconfig/desktop
and you'll be using KDM the next time you boot.
If you're running KDM, the settings in the "Login Manager" in the "Advanced" tab of the "System Settings" dialog can be used to set up an automatic logon or, a safer alternative, I think, to default to a specific user and focus on the "Password" line.
The reason I thought that this wouldn't work is that the the /usr/bin/kdm
executable was missing until I upgraded to KDE 4.1 from the updates-testing repository
I would note, however, that having an auto logon feature enabled on a laptop is an "open door" if the laptop is stolen or, hopefully, just "lost." (Would you believe that some people are so foolish that they autologon to "root" on a laptop? Sheesh!)
That being said, I think
that you could set up /etc/rc.d/rc.local
to automatically do a login at the end of the boot process. Note that that is a supposition - I've never tried it.
As to your other problem, check your task-bar at the top of the screen if you're using GNOME. (Yes, I know that's obvious, but some users are so fixated on the Windows defaults that they only look at the bottom of the screen.)
Did you try the <TAB> and <SHIFT-TAB> keys? By default, they should "walk" you through all your running applications and let you select any one, even a minimized (or invisible) one.