So, all the desktop icons, including Computer, Home and Mounted Volumes, disappeared without a trace. Worse, rebooting had no effect. However, when I loaded the home folder in Mint’s Caja file manager, suddenly all the icons reappeared – but, only to be lost once more on rebooting.
A check on the desktop settings (Menu – Control Centre – Desktop Settings) showed that the boxes for Computer, Home and Mounted Volumes were all checked. However, I thought I had found the culprit when I checked Menu – Preferences – CompizConfig Settings Manager – Desktop and saw that Show Desktop was unchecked. But, interestingly, checking this box had no effect on the desktop display – or lack thereof.
Web postings suggested (a) that Caja should run in the background and display the desktop icons but, if Caja is terminated, the desktop icons disappear, and (b) if the desktop icons are not being displayed on boot-up then Caja may not be starting automatically.
The fix offered by Cigydd in the Linux Mint Forums was to add the command caja -n as a start-up application (Menu – Preferences – Startup Applications). This runs Caja on boot-up, with the switch producing no-default-window.
While this is probably a rather inelegant solution to the problem of the sudden disappearance of desktop icons, it worked on my system.
undo disappearing MATE desktop?
Desktop icons gone in MATE, caja not started automatically