I was doing so well ... until.
I have downloaded linuxmint 13 xfce; I installed it on my usb 3.0 ext hd and was actually well on my way to getting the kind of system I like. I have installed most of the the apps I wanted, and by and large, they were all working well.
Then I clicked on update manager to bring in the rest of the software updates. The whole process to update the software took almost twelve hours. Eventually I cancelled it.
I then ran the software update again without going through the update manager. I went commandline because I was beginning to suspect that updates via the software center and the update manager were not exactly working as well as they should: I've been having problems with them. Synaptic seems ok, though.
The software updates via commandline completed successfully. It still took a long time -- seven hours. On reboot however, I am confronted with just the wallpaper. The panel, the icons have all disappeared from view.
I think the system is still intact and working because I can invoke gnome-do, look around, and invoke apps such as firefox. My main problem is that the panel and all the icons have disappeared from view.
I'd rather not go back and re-install . How can I get my desktop looking "normal" again?