I had an interesting situation today where my NetApplet icon just disappeared. I hunted around the gconf panel settings – but no luck.
One quick mail to Guy and the answer came back:
Netapplet is a ‘systray’ application. I suppose you are missing the “Notification Area” applet in your of your panels for Netapplet to show up on your desktop.
If you have not already, simply add a new panel at the top of your desktop. Right-click on the panel “Add to panel > Utility > Notification Area”. Once there, you may need to restart netapplet to get it to show up there.
Working just great now – and shared so others may have a googleable fix.