I got this message on one pc today.
“Failed to contact configuration server; some possible causes are that you need to enable TCP/IP networking for ORBit, or you have stale NFS locks due to a system crash. See http://projects.gnome.org/gconf/ for information”
According to a discussion in bugs.launchpad.net I will try a suggestion posted by a friend right there.
mv ~/.gconfd/saved_state saved_state.old”
Restart the computer and it works.