Our workstations use a graphical display system called X11, designed at MIT. If you don't have a strong preference for the alternative, Sun's OpenWindows, we urge you to use X11 which requires less memory.
All software which uses graphics (Netscape, PostScript and DVI previewers, image viewers) must run under such a graphical user interface; moreover many ordinary non-graphics programs run better under X-Windows. That's why it is important to learn using it.
Just after you log in type the command xinit and press Return. The screen should become gray, and some windows will start popping up. On the slower machines the whole process can take half a minute or so.
From now on you'll be doing many things with a mouse. Most of the time the left mouse button is used. The interface is somewhat similar to Microsoft Windows or the Macintosh Finder, but there are several differences and it will be confusing at first.
Now click the box with a circle inside, in the top left corner of the window. The window goes away, but not entirely - it just shrinks and becomes an icon again.
Open a window again; press and hold the left mouse button in the middle of the title bar, the shaded bar at the top of the window. When you "grab" the title bar like this, the window will move about along with the mouse until you release the button. That's how you can rearrange most of the windows on the screen.
To resize a window, do the same - click and hold the button - but this time inside the box in the top right corner. When you move the mouse and it hits any edge of the window, that edge will start moving. This lets you make a window smaller or larger. But it's not a good idea to do that while the window shows some application (like elm or an editor) which displays things depending on the original size of the window - such programs will get confused and you may see bizarre results.
If one window is partially covered by others, you can bring it to the front of the display by clicking it once on the title bar. This is fine when the title bar is visible - but what if the window you want to get at is completely covered up? You can tell the window in front to jump all the way to the back by clicking the title bar with the middle mouse button. It is somewhat difficult to describe this with words, so you should now spend some time playing with the windows.
Other programs, such as netscape or nedit will open their own window - when a "wireframe" outline shows up, move it with the mouse where you want it to be, and click the left button to place it on the screen.
The computer can run several processes at once. To take advantage of that try saying nedit &. The ampersand will make the program "run in the background", so you can continue doing other things in that window. But be careful about starting up too many programs - some, especially Netscape, eat up quite a bit of memory. This may slow the computer down to a crawl, or make it stop responding altogether. In that case use another workstation to send mail to the system manager who will try to clear things up.