YOu don't mention what version of GIMP you are running, but in 2.6.10, 
to access the layers menu I think you are looking for, try looking under

Windows > Dockable dialogs > layers.

My installation also included a default group of dialogs, under a menu 

"Layers, paths, channels, undo".


Bob Meetin wrote:
> I am running Ubuntu Linux 10.04.  On my older linux pc GIMP included a menu 
> option I think to access Layers, might have been Dialog -->  Layers, I don't 
> remember.  This version of GIMP has Layer -->  New Layer, but it's not 
> immediately obvious in looking through all the menubar options where to get 
> to a Layers dialog where I can move layers, rename them, etc.  Advice please?
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