I created myself a problem just the other day. I am using Ubuntu 10.04 GNU/Linux, and the top panel wasn't showing me what I wanted to see, so I deleted it. I thought that it would be reinstated after I logged out or rebooted, but no, it wasn't. So there I am with a blank desktop, with just the bottom panel, which shows open programs, virtual desktops, and an icon to clear the desktop. Nothing to launch programs graphically.
The next day, I looked it up on the Internet, and read all about moving, resizing, adding and deleting panels, and how to add items to the panel. Last night, I created a new panel, then populated it with appropriate launchers, all by pointing and clicking. One of the items you can choose is called the 'Menu Bar', and it includes three drop-down menus. Now I am back in business. I have discovered that even with small hitches like this, and the ability to totally customize everything (which sometimes leads to confusion), I still like this version of Linux wa-a-a-ay better than Windows. It is just plain fun to use, plus I can do some development work, run a local web server, etc.