How-To Geek

Reload the Gnome or KDE Panels Without Restarting (Linux)

If you do a lot of tweaking to the panels in Gnome or KDE, you’ve probably run into an instance where you enabled a plugin or changed a setting and need to restart to see the effect (or maybe you locked something up). Instead of logging out or rebooting, we’ll just reload the process.

In case you are wondering what the panel is, it’s the process that handles everything you see on the screen here. (and all the rest of the toolbars and buttons too)


Gnome / Ubuntu

Under the Gnome environment that Ubuntu uses, the “start” menu and other panels are all contained in a process called gnome-panel. The quickest way to restart that process is to just kill it and let it restart automatically.

Use the Alt+F2 key combination to bring up the Run dialog, and then enter in this command:

killall gnome-panel


This should immediately restart the panels. If for some unknown reason it doesn’t restart, you can just type gnome-panel into the run box.

KDE 3 / Kubuntu

The panels on KDE are in a process called kicker, but instead of just killing the process we can try and send a message to it using dcop and tell it to restart. Use the Alt+F2 key combination to pull up the Run dialog, and then enter in this command:

dcop kicker kicker restart


If the kicker panel is completely locked up it might not respond, so you could also kill the process and restart it by running these two commands:

killall kicker

This will immediately restart the panels. Note that you could run these commands from the terminal instead of the run dialog.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/18/08

Comments (14)

  1. Naresh V


    What fonts are you using there?

  2. Grant Johnson

    Another easy way to do this, although it will restart all of X, and not just the panel is CTRL-ALT-Backspace.

  3. The Geek


    That’s a good point… of course restarting X will also restart any applications you have open. I usually try to avoid that since I’ve got 40 Firefox tabs open at any given point =)

    @Naresh: I think I’m using Lucida Grande, but I can check.

  4. Justin

    You ought to be able to combine the two commands into one using &&, i.e. “killall kicker && kicker”. Not an earth shattering reduction in steps, but if you had to do it very often, it could add up.

  5. The Geek


    You know, you really should be able to, and that’s what I originally had written. Thankfully I tested it first, because it just didn’t work for me. Kept giving me weird error messages.

  6. Jonadab

    If you really want to get the whole thing down to a single command line, it might help to put a short-duration sleep statement between the two commands. Or, if you do it often, put the commands in a shell script and bind it to a hotkey :-)

  7. Tsiolkovsky

    To restart the Plasma desktop shel in KDE 4 you use this: kquitapp plasma && plasma

  8. Rob Russell

    Thanks for the tip. I created a shortcut to restart the panels. It’s happening on someone else’s computer and this will make their life easier until we get to the bottom of what’s causing the crash.

  9. Bill McGonigle

    I’ve got KDE 4.2 here – I tried some of the above, which lead me to try:

    killall plasma && plasma

    and that seems to do the trick. Thanks!

  10. Denis Howe

    Killing the panel works but it’s messy. For example, it leaves pidgin’s buddy list open and re-orders all the tasks on the task bar. I do it to get a launcher on the panel to show the new comment text I’ve just written to ~/.gnome2/panel2.d/default/launchers/ (Which launches my Perl program for rotating desktop wallpaper).

  11. Mohan

    Awesome tip, thanks man!

  12. guest

    KDE 3.5: dcop klauncher klauncher autoStart

    and the panel magically reappears!

  13. Ryan

    kquitapp plasma-desktop

    worked for me in OpenSUSE 11.2

  14. Marco G.

    Ryan man. You’re a life savior !

    The kicker command no longer works since KDE 4 dot something. I’ve been searching but it seems this update is nowhere …

    Thanks !

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