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From the subforum here, you can figure I'm a newb. I think this is easy for you:
I just installed xfce4. At first i worked well. I really like the desktop menu. Now its gone and clicking on the dekstop takes no effect at all. I think some application like nautilus is hiding the usual desktop, since the background image has gone also. I thought i'd drop my pstree pullout here, as I'm not able to figure out which task is the thief.
my guess is that xfdesktop isn't getting started so you could try running it from a terminal then save your session when you log out so it gets started again on log in. Or you could clear out your session info which i think is in ~/.config/xfce4.