I useGNOME as my primary desktop at work, and periodically need to restart the Xserver / windowing environment to pick up new changes. If I have an X environment up and running, I will send a cntrl + alt + backspace to restart the X server. If for some reason I’m not able to send the key sequence above (this isn’t feasible if I’m logged in remotely), I will run the telinit command to switch to run level 3 (multi user mode w/o X), then execute it a second time to switch back to run level 5 (multi user mode w/ X):
$ telinit 3
$ telinit 5
The latest GNOME bits are pretty slick, though I’m starting to dig KDE again (I used to use KDE years ago). I plan to share my experience with the latest KDE bits in a future post.