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AIX Version 4.3 Quick Beginnings

User Interfaces

How you interact with the operating system depends on your user interface. Your keyboard and display form an interface between you and your system's hardware. The user interface is between you and the programs you use. An application's user interface determines its appearance and behavior. There are several types of user interfaces, which include web-based, graphical, and command line interfaces.

Determining Your User Interface

The way you work with the system depends on your user interface. Logging in displays one of the following:

The appearance of each interface is distinct. The interface that appears when you log in does not imply that you do not have access to the other interfaces. The AIX Common Desktop Environment interface is the default interface found on many AIX systems.

Web-based User Interfaces

Web-based user interfaces provide a way to access graphical information and applications from remote computers using the Internet or intranets. Web-based user applications are often platform-independent, allowing applications residing on a particular type of computer and operating system to be accessed and operated from other types of computers and operating systems.

Many web-based user interfaces are presented in the form of web pages that you view with a web browser. Web pages can contain text, graphical user interface controls, graphics, sound, and animation. These web pages are written using HyperText Markup Language (HTML). HTML allows the web browser to determine the exact form of presenting information. You can change many characteristics such as layout, text size, color, and font independently of how the information was originally written.

User interfaces can be developed with Java that have all the features of graphical user interfaces. Java programs can be developed as applications that run locally on a computer or as applets that can be accessed and downloaded automatically using a web browser. Applets can be included in HTML web pages or they can appear in their own windows.

Web-based System Manager is a web-based user interface. You can run it as a local application on an AIX Version 4.3 system or access it remotely from a personal computer through a web browser.

Graphical User Interfaces

When a user interface has graphical objects, such as windows and menus, it is called a graphical user interface (GUI). AIX Common Desktop Environment and AIXwindows provide interfaces between you and your computer.

The graphical window system, which is part of the graphical user interface, organizes graphics output on the display and does basic text and graphics drawing functions.

AIX Common Desktop Environment is a graphical user interface that allows you to access networked devices and tools without having to be aware of their location. You can exchange data across applications simply by dragging and dropping objects.

AIXwindows is a window manager, another part of the graphical user interface, that lets you move windows around and resize them. It is also responsible for the appearance of the windows because it adds a frame to the windows.

X Window System

The X Window System, also known as X, provides a way to create a hierarchy of windows and a way to draw in windows. It also determines if a key or a mouse button is pressed. X is not a graphical user interface. It is a network window system. The actual means of user interaction is left to the graphical user interface, which is based on the X Window System and managed by AIXwindows.

Advantages of X Window System

X operates using the client/server model. This means that the server controls the actual hardware used for input and output, and the clients make requests of the server. This allows client programs to be independent of the hardware.

In X terminology, the display server is called either the server or the display. The actual hardware is called the screen.

Clients are the application programs that make requests of the display server. AIXwindows Window Manager is an example of a client.

Command Line Interface

The command line interface is also known as the shell. This interface is character-based. The screen displays a system prompt, and the commands you type from the keyboard appear next to the prompt.

AIX Common Desktop Environment

If your screen looks like the following illustration, you are in the AIX Common Desktop Environment graphical interface.

The AIX Common Desktop Environment also depends on AIXwindows. AIX Common Desktop Environment provides a graphical user interface that makes your screen seem like an electronic desktop. The AIX Common Desktop Environment displays icons that represent various functions such as files, directories, and programs. You control these icons with a mouse. By opening windows on the desktop, you can simultaneously view and easily move among several activities. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, the AIX Common Desktop Environment helps you manage your work and use the operating system to perform various tasks.

See Using AIX Common Desktop Environment for more information on working in this interface. The Common Desktop Environment 1.0: User's Guide provides detailed information about using the AIX Common Desktop Environment interface. For information about enhancements to CDE, select the CDE Help Manager icon, then select the Common Desktop Environment help volume; new features are described in the "Enhancements to AIX CDE" section.


If your screen looks like the following illustration, you are in the AIXwindows graphical interface.

The AIXwindows graphical interface allows applications to run separately and appear simultaneously in different windows on the same screen. Graphical interfaces divide your physical display screen into regions called windows, where the output of these different applications appears. Multiple displays seem to be working at the same time.

AIXwindows, a window manager, controls interactions among windows from various clients on the display. You need a window manager to control the placement and size of each window. If there is no window manager, there is no way to change a window's location or alter its size. Many applications available for your computer make use of AIXwindows. The skills you develop by using AIXwindows help you work with various applications.

You enter commands at the command line prompt in the aixterm window.

See Using the AIXwindows Interface for more information on working in this interface.

Command Line

If your screen looks like the following illustration, you are in a command line interface.

Most people are familiar with the command line interface, also known as a shell interface. It is a blank screen with a system prompt. Commands you type from the keyboard appear next to the prompt.

The system prompt informs you that the system is ready and waiting for you to enter commands. The common system prompts used are $ and %. Your system prompt may be different because your system administrator may have set up a word, such as your name, as the prompt rather than one character.

The cursor is a visible mark used to indicate where entered text will appear. It may be represented by an underscore symbol or a block symbol.

See "Using the Command Line Interface" for more information on working in this interface.

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