set] MATH DEPT Computer News, Volume 18

A new computer just for you!

I explain here how to give your computer a nice new look and feel, the look and feel of a brand-spanking new machine.

Click on RELOAD now. This page is frequently updated and you might be looking at an old version saved by your netscape cache.

If you are like me, you have let your DOT files rot over the years. In particular, your .cshrc might be a relic of the pre-solaris era. To freshen up your machine, you will need to install the newest, latest version of the math dept dot files that come with new accounts. I will explain two ways to do this, a fast way and a slow way. First the fast way:

There is a new command on our system that will give you all new dot files in one fell swoop. Type

cd /pkgs/misc/bin

You will see a command called make_standard that Dan Shaw has designed to allow users to give themselves all the newest and most improved standard dot files. The command is just a standard shell script and is plain text. You can type

more make_standard

while you are in the directory /pkgs/misc/bin and hit the space bar to scroll to see what the command will do for you. If you want to give it a try, type the command

make_standard -f

(or type /pkgs/misc/bin make_standard -f from your home directory) and all your old dot files will be placed in a directory called

Dotfiles-<today's date>-<process id>

in your home directory, and new dot files will be put in your home directory. After you log off and back on, you will notice that suddenly your X-windows have a nice new feel and many other things might work better, too. (I explain below how to use the new X-window system, Ice Windows).

Now the slow way:

If you are afraid to use the make_standard script, you can go through the process manually as follows.


First move your current antique .cshrc file out of the way (but don't trash it) by typing

mv  .cshrc  .cshrc.old

Next, you will need to copy the new standard .cshrc file to your home directory. Do this by typing

cp  /pkgs/share/local/sample-files/.cshrc  ~

Notes: the tilde (~) in the command above is UNIX shorthand for your home directory. There are no spaces in the long string,
Long strings like this are such a bear to type that I suggest that you use the following standard method to copy and paste text. Left mouse click and drag over the whole long cp command above. Now left click in the window where you want to run the command and then click on the middle mouse button. The text you dragged over will be spit out at the command line. Now push RETURN.

Now repeat the process for your .login file, i.e., type

mv  .login  .login.old
cp  /pkgs/share/local/sample-files/.login  ~

Next, you should examine your old .cshrc and .login files for aliases and special settings commands that you like and copy the relevant lines to the new versions. For example, I copied

alias lo logout

from my old .cshrc to the END of my new one, and I copied

# Choose a printer:
setenv PRINTER lpub7

to the point in my new .login file where it suggests that you set your personal environmental variables.

NOTE: If you try to edit one of your new files and the system tells you that the file is read only, you will need to "change the mode" of the file to give yourself write permission. For example, to give yourself write permission on your new .cshrc file, just type

chmod  u+w  .cshrc

For the whole story about UNIX file permissions, see

Unix file permissions


There is a new window manager available and it is very nice. I just love it. It is called Ice Window Manager (icewm). I will explain its main features and how to set it up.

To start using icewm, you will first need to copy the new standard .Xdefaults file that comes with new accounts to your home directory. (The make_standard command described above does this for you. The instructions that follow explain how to do this manually.)

First, move your old .Xdefaults file out of the way:

mv  .Xdefaults  .Xdefaults.old 

Next, type

cp  /pkgs/share/local/sample-files/.Xdefaults  ~

You probably don't have a .Xrc.math file at the moment. However, if you do, you'll need to move it too by typing

mv  .Xrc.math  .Xrc.math.old 

Now you are safe to copy the new .Xrc.math startup file by typing

cp  /pkgs/share/local/sample-files/.Xrc.math  ~

Finally, you should move any old dot files you might have with the following names out of the way:


e.g., by typing

mv  .xinitrc  .xinitrc.old

NOTE: If you end up with so many .old files that they are cluttering up your home directory, you might consider making a separate directory to stash them in. For example, type

mkdir Oldstuff
mv .cshrc.old  Oldstuff/cshrc.old

to create an Oldstuff subdirectory in your Home directory and to move .cshrc.old from your home directory to a file called cshrc.old in your new subdirectory.


Next, get a bottle of WINDEX and clean your keyboard and monitor. Then log off and log back on. Voila! You've got a new computer!

How to personalize your colors, windows, fonts, etc. in icewm.

I'll tell you here what I did to make icewm look and act the way I wanted it to. I'll also explain some of the nifty features about icewm that you will probably like. I learned this stuff from the online documentation that is available at


that you can access from a math machine by clicking on the link above or by typing

netscape /pkgs/X11/src/PURDUE_MATH/icewm/icewm-1.0.1/doc/icewm.html &

I wasn't very wild about the black/white feel of my xterm windows and some hard to read fonts, so I changed the following lines in my new .Xdefaults from

! Defaults for Xterm

XTerm*VT100*geometry: 80x24
XTerm*VT100*font: -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--15-140-*
XTerm*scrollBar: on
XTerm*saveLines: 200
XTerm*loginShell: on
XTerm*reverseWrap: on
XTerm*foreground: White
XTerm*background: Black
XTerm*reverseVideo: true
XTerm*cursorColor: Green
XTerm*pointerColorBackground: Black
XTerm*pointerColor: Red

to the following:

! Defaults for Xterm

XTerm*VT100*geometry: 80x35
XTerm*VT100*font: lucidasanstypewriter-18
XTerm*VT100*font2: lucidasanstypewriter-10
XTerm*VT100*font3: lucidasanstypewriter-12
XTerm*VT100*font4: lucidasanstypewriter-14
XTerm*VT100*font5: lucidasanstypewriter-18
XTerm*VT100*font6: lucidasanstypewriter-bold-24
XTerm*font: lucidasanstypewriter-14
XTerm*scrollBar: on
XTerm*saveLines: 500
XTerm*loginShell: on
XTerm*reverseWrap: on
XTerm*foreground: black
XTerm*background: gray65
XTerm*cursorColor: ivory
XTerm*pointerColor: black
XTerm*pointerColorBackground: red

WARNING: The .Xdefaults file is very sensitive to things like extra spaces at the ends of lines. Make sure there aren't any.

You can experiment with different colors to see what you like best. (NOTE: You'll need to log off and back on again to see the effect of your changes.) A nice way to see the names of all the available colors is to type

xco &

in an xterm window.

I also didn't like some of the settings that were chosen by default in the system file. The system reads the default preferences in


To change them, I first created a .icewm directory in my home directory by typing

mkdir  .icewm

Then I copied the system preferences file to this new directory by typing

cp  /pkgs/X11/lib/X11/icewm/preferences  ~/.icewm

Then I edited certain lines of my personal copy of the preferences file in ~/.icewm to read as follows. (NOTE: You'll need to log off and back on again to see the effect of your changes.)

#  Pass focusing click on client area to client
PassFirstClickToClient=0 # 0/1

This is important if you like to left-mouse-button drag over text to select it and then middle click to spit it out. (If you don't change this, you will find that if you have selected text and then click in another window to make it active, you will unselect the text you had and select a little glob of text where you slipped when you clicked the new window.)

#  Beep when new mail arrives
TaskBarMailboxStatusBeepOnNewMail=1 # 0/1

Of course! Get real. How else can I keep up my perfect record of answering or deleting e-mail within fifteen seconds of receipt?

#  Show workspace switching buttons on task bar
TaskBarShowWorkspaces=1 # 0/1

One feature of icewm that I really like is that there are four separate windows in a row for you to use to do different things. It's like having four different computers in a row. I do text editing in window one, e-mail in window two, netscape in window three, and connect to other computers in window four. You have this feature, but you might not have realized it. By changing the line above, I also get little buttons that say 1,2,3,4 on them so I can click on them to switch to a different space. (I'll explain how to use the window spaces below.)

#  Confirm logout
ConfirmLogout=0 # 0/1

Don't bug me! Just do it.

# Theme

I didn't like the blacks and greys of the default window colors in the default (warp3) theme. This change makes the bars at the top of the active windows blue instead of black.

That's all there is to it.

Nice features of the Ice Window Manager

Left mouse click on a patch of background in your window. A menu pops up. (If you can't find any background window because your screen is covered with windows, just close some of them by clicking on the X or minimize them by clicking on the _.) The list of numbers,

2. 2
3. 3
4. 4

in the menu represent your other three separate window spaces. Select window space two by left or right mouse clicking on the 2.2 in the menu and you will move to that space. There's probably nothing there. Your different spaces will be empty at first. To get an xterm going in window 2, for example, click on the little terminal icon on the task bar at the bottom of the screen. Go back to space 1.1 by left mouse clicking on a patch of background screen space and selecting 1.1 from the menu (or by clicking on the little box numbered 1 on the task bar at the bottom of the screen if you made the change to the preferences file that I suggested above).

Here is another good way to get something going in window space two. Start netscape by typing

netscape -install

in an xterm in window space 1. (Note: the -install option of Netscape makes the colors in Netscape local. If you don't start Netscape this way, you'll find that you run out of colors to run other programs like the greyscale colors of xdvi, etc. You can also start Netscape by clicking on the little Netscape icon on the task bar at the bottom of the screen, but it will hog colors that way.)

Now that Netscape is up and running in window space 1, right mouse click on the bar at the top of the Netscape window. A menu pops down. Select

Move to

from the list and then select 2.2 to move the Netscape window to window space 2.

I find it very convenient to move through my window spaces by pushing and holding the Alt key and then pushing the left or right arrow keys.

icewm will make your machine feel quite a bit like a Microsoft windows machine. For example, you can minimize a window by clicking on the little dash in the box at the upper right corner of the window and an icon for it will appear on the task bar at the bottom of the screen. You can bring the window back up by clicking on its icon on the task bar. You can make the window fill the whole screen by clicking on the maximize box in the upper right corner of the window. Click on it again to return to the previous size.

Here's a nifty feature. Click on the funny little up arrow in the upper right hand corner of an xterm and you roll the window up like a window shade. Click on it again and it rolls back down.

Here are some other features you'll want to try out. If you left mouse click on some background, a menu list pops down. If you select "Windows list," a list of all your windows in all your work spaces will pop up. If you select a window on the list, you will automatically suddenly get moved to the window space where that window is and it will become the active window for input. The "Windows list" is also opened if you middle mouse click in the background.

If you right mouse click in the background, you'll get another menu. You can launch certain applications like an xterm or netscape by selecting them from this list. You can also other start programs like xdvi by selecting them from the appropriate menu category. Next on the right mouse menu is the "Windows list" again. Under that is a rather interesting item. If you select "Themes," you can change the look and feel of your windows without messing around with the preferences startup file. For example, choose "nice" and then click on the little arrow and select "blue" and wait a few seconds to see the edges around your windows and your menus turn blue. If you like this blue stuff better than the default blacks and greys of the default "warp3" theme, you will be disappointed the next time you log in and find that your new selection has been forgotten. You can change the entry about themes in your preferences file to

# Theme

to make the nice-blue one become your default that starts every time you log on. (If you want your window bars to be maroon instead of blue, I explain how to change them here.)

To LOGOUT of icewm, right mouse click on some background and select the bottom entry, Logout, of the menu that pops down. To get totally logged off, you might also need to type logout at the UNIX prompt that might show up after you exit icewm.

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