Possibly your config got corrupted. You can put back the original config by copying the .e directory from /etc/skel to your homedir or reinstall the econfig package with synaptic.
There are 3 econfig packages:
econfig: default for pclinuxos-e17
econfig-itask: default for e17-light
econfig-light: alternate for e17-light with a classic full lengh shelf instead of itask-ng launcher
When you have setup your e17 to your likings just copy your .e somewhere or put it in an archive so you can easily put it back. Simply removing ~/.e will give you the default e17 config if your prefer to set it all up yourself.
I have the default econfig
I attempted to copy the default .e directory as you said, but something would not allow me to paste into home for some reason. Then i simply deleted .e from my home directory, I went through the initial setup , and again... the applications portion of my menu remained empty.
I ended up doing this the hard way (backed up all my stuff and did a reinstall) "yes, I know... but what can I cay...
I'm used to ***dows"
I have installed this on two other computers... mostly out of curiosity... both of them also had instances where the applications portion of the menu came up empty... I love this OS. but I need to determine what is happening to my menu... or I need to learn an easier way to recover it... I have everything working at the moment and have followed your advice and made a backup copy of it. I hope you can point me in a direction that will help me identify the source of the corruption so I can eliminate it.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer... and if you need any more info about the problem just let me know
all my best