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Personal System Administration Guide



The name of the default Window Manager. See also Window Manager.


See login account.

active window

The only window that recognizes input (activity) from the keyboard and mouse; only one window is active at a time. Make a window active by placing the cursor within its boundaries.


The person who can use the most privileged account, root. This person must have his own personal login account for daily use, but, when there are serious system problems to correct, the person logs in to the root account to change system information using the graphical tools or using the IRIX shell.

The Administrator has all the capabilities of a Privileged User, plus the capability to change information in the root account (such as the password) and to log in to an IRIX shell as root. Because there is only one root account, there is only one Administrator per system. The Information Panel for a particular system includes the name of the system's Administrator so other users know who to contact for help.

ASCII text

An ASCII file contains text only. When you save a file as ASCII text, you save only the characters, not the size, the font, the style, the color, or the format.

autologin user

The user who is automatically logged in to the system each time it is powered up. You specify an autologin user in the Login Setup tool.


An NFS utility that lets you share directories with other systems as if the directory resided on your own disk. When automount is turned on, you can drag a directory icon from the Shared Resources area of another system's System Manager window onto your own desktop.

back up

To copy a certain set of files and directories from your hard disk to a tape or other storage media.

backup tape

A tape that contains a copy of a set of files and directories that are on your hard disk. A full backup tape contains a copy of all files and directories, including IRIX, that are on your hard disk.

baud rate

The speed (calculated as bits per second) at which the system sends information to a serial device, such as a modem or a terminal.

borderless window

A window with no title bar or borders.

business card

When you double-click a person's icon in the desktop, you see a business card that displays public information about the person. The information on the business card is drawn from the person's User Information window in the Users and Groups tool.

business card information

Business card information appears in the top portion of a person's User Information window in the Users and Groups tool; it includes a picture of the person and contact information about the person. Usually this information is the same for every account that belongs to a particular person.


On a mouse, a button is a switch that you press with a finger. In a window on your screen, a button is a labeled rectangle that you click using the cursor and mouse.

CD-ROM disk (CD)

A flat metallic disk that contains information that you can view and copy onto your own hard disk; you cannot change or add to its information. CD-ROM is short for compact-disk: read-only memory.

centralized network

A network where a central server controls services and information; the server is maintained by one or more individuals called network administrators. On a centralized network that uses NIS, this server is called the NIS master, and all other systems on the network are called NIS clients. See also network administrator, NIS, NIS client, NIS domain, and NIS master.


To press the left mouse button to bring up a pop-up menu, move the cursor to highlight the command that you want to run, then release the button.


To hold the mouse still, then press and immediately release a mouse button.

command line option

Options that let you specify how you want to run an IRIX command. See the man page for a command for a list of the available command line options.

confidence test

A test that you run to make sure a particular device (such as the keyboard, mouse, or a drive) is set up and working properly.

configuration file

A system file that you change to customize the way your system behaves. Such files are sometimes referred to as customization files.


The window that appears as a stowed icon each time you log in; IRIX reports

status and error messages to this window.


The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the chip that proccesses data. Depending on the type and version of a CPU, the system will run at different speeds.

current working directory

The directory within the file system in which you are currently located when you are working in a shell window.


The small red arrow on the screen that echoes the movements of the mouse. It changes shape depending on its location on the screen.


A series of SCSI devices that are connected to each other, with one device connected to the SCSI port on a system.


A magnetic tape from which you can read and to which you can copy audio and digital information.

default printer

The printer to which the system directs a print request if you do not specify a printer when you make the request. You set the default printer using the Printer Manager.

default subsystems

Portions of a product that will be installed automatically if you do not customize a product installation.


A set of behaviors that Silicon Graphics, Inc. specifies on every system. You can later change these specifications, which range from how your screen looks to what type of drive you want to use to install new software. For example, when you run IRIS Showcase, the Master gizmo opens by default You can change the default settings using the Preferences gizmo.


To permanently remove an object from an IRIS Showcase page. You can't retrieve objects you delete by choosing .


The collection of windows and icons that appears on your computer screen. You can create multiple desks and switch between them. When you switch from one desk to another, the screen changes, almost as if you had several different monitors.


The screen background. By default, several icons are placed on the desktop: a folder icon representing your home directory, a dumpster icon, several application icons, and an icon for each peripheral you have installed. You can place other icons on the desktop so that you can access them more easily.


The tool that maintains an accurate list of all network systems, users, and peripherals; it runs on the network master system. When you search for one of these resources on your network, your system contacts the directoryserver to find the information.

Directory View window

The window you see when you open a folder (directory) icon. It displays the files, folders, and applications that the directory contains.

disk directory

A directory that represents an entire disk or a partition of a disk. When you open a disk directory, you view the contents of the disk.

disk use

The percentage of space on your disk that contains information.

distributed network

A network where there is no automated central control of services or information. Each system's administrator must work with the network administrator to keep each system's network information up to date.

distribution directory

A directory that contains software that can be installed using Software Manager or inst. Typically this directory is copied from a CD into a directory on a server system so users can install software across the network from a directory rather than from a CD.


A group of hosts on a network whose hostnames have the same suffix. See also NIS domain.

domain name

The common suffix found in all hostnames that are in the same domain on a network. See also NIS domain.


To hold the mouse still, then press and release it twice, very rapidly. When you double-click an icon it opens into a window; when you double-click the Window menu button the window closes.


To press and hold down a mouse button, then move the mouse. This drags the cursor to move icons or to highlight menu items.


A hardware device that lets you access information on various forms of media, such as hard, floppy, and CD-ROM disks, and magnetic tapes.

drive address number

The unique number that identifies each drive (such as hard, floppy, and CD-ROM drives) to the system. See also SCSI address.

drive controller number

The unique number that identifies each controller (a board that controls the flow of information from the system to a drive) to the system. See also SCSI controller.

drop pocket

A drop pocket is the small blue square into which you can drop icons. You can drag a folder icon and place it into the drop pocket on a Directory View window. The window displays the contents of that folder.

You can also drag a file or application icon and place it in the drop pocket on a Directory View window. The window displays the contents of the directory in which that icon is stored.

As a final example, you can drag an IRIS Showcase icon and drop it into a drop pocket on the Search Catalog to specify the type of files you want to find - in this case, IRIS Showcase files.


A temporary holding place for icons that you remove using the "Remove" command. To retrieve files from the dumpster, double-click the dumpster icon; to empty the dumpster, choose "Empty Dumpster" from the Desktop toolchest.

electronic mail

A utility that lets users on a network send messages from one system to another.

electronic mail address

Your login name plus location information so you can receive electronic mail. The address is usually assigned by the network administrator.

Ethernet cable

The cable that connects your system to a network that runs TCP/IP.

Ethernet port

The outlet on your system to which you can connect an Ethernet cable. This connection lets you communicate on a network that runs TCP/IP.


An area in a window in which you can type text.


A container in which you store information such as text, programs, or images you create using an application.

file hierarchy

See filesystem.


A hierarchy of directories and files. Directories contain other directories and files; files cannot contain directories. The root (/) directory is at the top of the hierarchy.


A window that contains buttons that you must click and/or editable fields that you must fill in.


A hardware chip inside the system that speeds up calculations that use floating point numbers. FPU stand for Floating Point Unit.

full name

A person's actual name, as the person would like it to appear on a business card.

global desk

The desk to place windows on if you want them to automatically appear on all of your desks.


A collection of login names. Members of a group can make file permissions apply to all other members of a group. You create and modify groups using the Users and Groups tool.


The protocol that controls the flow of information between a system and a printer. A hardware handshake uses only cable wires and pins to control the flow. A software handshake (also called xon/xoff flow control) uses a combination of pins, wires, and software.

home directory

A directory in which you create and store your work. Usually, the home directory is named /usr/people/loginname, where loginname is the name of your login account. A folder icon for your home directory appears on the desktop by default.


Any system connected to the network.


The name that uniquely identifies each host (system) on the network.


A small picture that represents a stowed or closed file, directory, application, or IRIX process.

icon finder

The area of a window that contains the drop pocket, the pathname field, the path bar, and the recycle button. You use these fixtures to move from one directory to another.


A logical grouping of the parts that make up an installable product; see also product and subsystem.

incompatible products

One or more software products that cannot be installed on a system at the same time. For example, a product that runs on version 3 or higher of the operating system is incompatible with version 2 of the operating system.

input focus

Only one window at a time recognizes mouse movement and typing. The window that does is said to have the input focus.


The software tool that you use to install system software, software options, and maintenance releases that come from Silicon Graphics, Inc. It is the command-line version of Software Manager.

installation conflicts

The Software Manager and inst report these when you select a combination of software for installation or removal that cannot be safely installed or removed. The installation tool gives you choices for resolving the conflicts to complete the installation.

installed products

Products that are currently installed on your system.

IP address

The number that uniquely identifies each system on the network.


Any graphics workstation manufactured by Silicon Graphics, Inc.


Silicon Graphics, Inc.'s version of the UNIX operating system. See also system software.

IRIX processes

Tasks that IRIX carries out to keep the system running correctly or to complete an explicit command. Each process has a unique process ID number.

Kb (Kilobyte)

A standard unit for measuring the information storage capacity of disks and memory (RAM and ROM); 1000 bytes make one Kilobyte.

launch icon

An arrow-shaped icon that appears in the right margin of the IRIS InSight viewer and the Help viewer. Double-click this icon to run an application.

linked copy

A pointer to a file or directory that exists in a different location in the file system. When you make a linked copy of a file, you are not creating another instance of the file; you are creating another location from which you can access the original file.

local workstation, drive, disk, filesystem, or printer

The physical workstation whose keyboard and mouse you are using, all hardware that is connected to that workstation, and all software that resides on that hardware or its removable media.

log in

To give the system your login name so you can start a session on the IRIS.

log out

To end a session on the IRIS.

logical swap space

Actual disk space that the system uses as if it were memory (RAM). By default, your system allocates 40 MB of your disk in the /dev/swap file. See also virtual swap space.

login account

A collection of information about a person who can log in to the system. The information includes the person's full name, login name, contact information, and the name of a home directory in which the person can store directories and files.

login name

A short version of your own name or your initials; you type it to log in to the system, and the system uses it to label files that belong to you. If your system is on a network, the network administrator usually must approve of the name to make sure it is unique.

login screen

The window that you see after powering on the system, before you can access files and directories. The window contains one icon for each login account on the system.


Printing software that lets you access a printer that's connected to a system that runs the BSD version of UNIX.

Mb (Megabyte)

A standard unit for measuring the information storage capacity of disks and memory (RAM and ROM); 1000 Kilobytes make one Megabyte.

man page

Reference information about UNIX commands. You can view man pages by choosing "Man Pages" from the Help toolchest.


A list of operations or commands that the IRIS can carry out on various objects on the screen.

menu button

A button that reveals a pop-up menu. Place the cursor over the button; then press the left mouse button.

mount point

The directory on your workstation from which you access information that is stored on a local or remote disk resource.


To make a file system that is stored on a local or remote disk resource accessible from a specific directory on your workstation.


A hardware device that you use to communicate with windows and icons. You move the mouse to move the cursor on the screen, and you press its buttons to initiate operations. An optical mouse must always be on the mouse pad for the IRIS to interpret its movements; a mechanical mouse works on any clean, flat surface.

mouse pad

For an optical mouse, this is the rectangular, metallic surface that reads the movements of the mouse. For a mechanical mouse, this is a clean, soft rectangular surface that makes the mouse's trackball roll efficiently.

multi-tasking system

A system that can run several processes (such as running applications, printing files, and updating files) simultaneously.

multiuser system

A system that several users can work on simultaneously and maintain private files.


An addressing scheme that creates a logical grouping of a subset of systems on your network.


A group of computers and other devices (such as printers) that can all communicate with each other electronically to transfer and share information.

Network Access account

A person who has a Network Access account on a system can log in to the system only when the network and the optional NIS software are running properly. The information in a Network Access account is entered by the network administrator on the NIS master system. Privileged Users on other systems on the network cannot change any business card information about a Network Access account.

network administrator

The network administrator is the person who maintains a network of systems. If the network runs the optional NIS software, the network administrator maintains the master database of login account infor.

new products

The Software Manager considers a product to be new when the product is available for installation, has never been installed on the system on which Software Manager is running, and has never been available during a previous installation session.


A networking software option that lets you access files and directories that reside on the disks of other workstations as if they resided on a local disk in your own workstation. NFS stands for Network File System.


A networking software option that lets you control network information and services from a central server called the NIS master. NIS stands for Network Information Service. See also centralized network, NIS client, NIS domain, and NIS master.

NIS client

Any system on a centralized network that runs NIS other than the NIS master. The NIS client receives services and information from the NIS master.

NIS domain name

The unique name of a network (or sub-network) that runs NIS. All hostnames in the NIS domain have the NIS domain name as their suffix.

NIS master

The server that stores the complete database of information about all the hosts (systems) and users on a centralized NIS network. The NIS master periodically updates host information on all other systems on the network (NIS clients); its user information is always available to every host. The network administrator is responsible for setting up, maintaining, and troubleshooting the NIS master.

not installed products

The Software Manager considers a product to be 'not installed' when the product has been previously available for installation, but has never been installed on the system.


A form that appears when the system requires you to confirm an operation that you just requested, or when an error occurs.


The tool that tracks users and peripherals on your system, and sends the information to the network master system's directoryserver. The directoryserver maintains an accurate list of all network systems, users, and peripherals. When you search for one of these resources on your network, your system contacts the directoryserver to find the information.

downgrade products

The Software Manager considers a product to be a downgrade when the product is available for installation, and is an older version of a product that is currently installed on the system on which Software Manager is running.


To double-click an icon, or to select an icon then choose "Open" from a menu in order to display a window that contains the information that the icon represents.


The user who created a particular file or directory and can specify which other users of the system can access the file.


A distinct region within a window. Usually you can choose to display all or some panes.

parent directory

A relative term that refers to a directory that contains another directory. If directory A contains directory B, then A is the parent directory of B.


A combination of letters and/or numbers that only you know; it is an optional element of your login account. If you specify a password for your account, you must type it after you type your login name before the system lets you access files and directories.


A list of directories the system searches when trying to find a file or run a program. You can add directories to and delete directories from your path.


The list of directories that leads you from the root (/) directory to a specific file or directory in the file system.


A hardware device that adds more functionality to the basic workstation, such as a tape drive. See also external devices and internal drives.


The information attached to each directory and file that specifies which users can access it and to what degree.

permissions mask

A system setting that specifies the default permissions that the system assigns to newly created files and directories. The owners of those files and directories can later change the permissions.

prerequisite products

Software products that must be installed in order for other products to work. If product A must be installed for product B to work, product A is a prerequisite product for product B.

primary group

A user can belong to several different groups, but one group must be the person's primary group. When a user creates a new file or directory, the system automatically sets permissions on the file that determine whether other members of a group can view or change the information. By default, the system labels the file with the user's primary group. This means if the user wants members of a different group to which the user belongs to access the file, the user must explicitly change the group ownership of the file to the other group.

primary system

The system that you use most frequently. You enter the name of this system in your User Information window, and it appears on your buainess card.

Primary User

For environments in which one person uses a particular system much more frequently than anyone else (where the person is essentially the system's owner), you can designate that person as the Primary User. The Primary User does not necessarily have any special access privileges; the person's name appears along with the Administrator's name in the system's Information Panel so other users know uses the system regularly. There is only one Primary User per system.

Printer Manager

A tool that you use to set up printer software and monitor jobs that you send to the printer. You access it through either the System toolchest or the System Manager, where it is called the Printer tool.

Privileged User

A person whose standard login account includes administrative privileges. When a Privileged User logs in, he can change his personal work area, and can use the graphical administration tools to change or customize the entire system (for example, add a disk, create a login account, or install system software). There can be more than one Privileged User on the same system.


A product is the largest module of software that Software Manager or inst can install. The operating system consists of several products that are required for the system to run. See also subsystem and image.


Windows on the screen and objects in the IRIS Showcase drawing area can overlap each other. You can pop a window so it appears on top of other windows; you can pop an object so it appears on top of other objects.


An outlet to which you attach cable connectors.

power cable

The cable that connects the workstation to a grounded electrical outlet.

power down

To turn off the power switches on the workstation chassis and the monitor.

power up

To turn on the power switches on the workstation chassis and the monitor.

PROM monitor

The interface that you use to communicate with the system after it is powered up, but before it is booted up and running IRIX.


A character or word that the system displays in an IRIX shell that indicates that the system is ready to accept commands. The default prompt for regular user accounts is %; the default prompt for the root account is #.


Windows on the screen and objects in the IRIS Showcase drawing area can overlap each other. You can push a window so it hides behind other windows; you can push an object so it appears below other objects.


A list of print jobs waiting to be printed on a particular printer.


To stop running an application.

remote workstation, drive, disk, file system, or printer

A hardware device or the information or media it contains that you can access across the network; they are not physically connected to your workstation.

reset button

A physical button on the workstation that you press to cut off then immediately restore power to the workstation. You should never press this button while IRIX is running, unless all attempts to shut down the system using software fail. See also shut down.

restore (files)

To copy files that once resided on your hard disk from another disk or a tape back onto your hard disk.

root account

The standard IRIX login account reserved for use by the system administrator. This account's home directory is the root (/) directory of the filesystem; the user of the root account has full access to the entire filesystem (that is, can change and delete any file or directory). The user of this account is sometimes referred to as the superuser.

root (/) directory

The directory at the top of the file system hierarchy.

same products

The Software Manager considers a product to be 'same' when the product is available for installation, and is the same version as a product that is currently installed on the system on which Software Manager is running.


An acronym that stands for Small Computer System Interface protocol. SCSI is a standard protocol for transferring information from a computer to another device.

SCSI address

A number from one to seven that uniquely identifies a SCSI device to a system. No two SCSI devices that are physically connected to the same SCSI controller on a system can have the same SCSI address.

SCSI cable

A cable that connects a SCSI device to a SCSI port on a workstation.

SCSI controller

An internal board that sends data to and from SCSI devices. You can have more than one SCSI controllers.

SCSI device

A hardware device that uses the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) protocol to communicate with the system. The system disk, floppy drives, CD-ROM drives, and tape drives are all SCSI devices.


To position the cursor over an icon then click the (left) mouse button. Once an icon is selected, it is the object of whatever operation you select from a menu.

serial device

Any hardware device that requires a serial cable connection to communicate with the workstation.

serial port

An outlet on the workstation to which you connect external serial devices.


A system that other systems on the network access to use its disk space, software, or services.


The shelf is a place for you to put icons that you need to use frequently while working in a particular directory. For example, if the directory contains many files, you might want to place the files you use most frequently on the shelf. Or, if the directory contains many color Showcase slides, you might want to place the icon for a color printer onto the shelf.


A window into which you type IRIX commands.

shell script

A program that issues and interprets a sequence of IRIX commands.


To change the order in which windows are stacked on the screen.

Standalone Access account

An account that you can log in to whether or not the system is connected to the network or NIS is running. The account information is stored on the local system rather than on the NIS master system.

shut down

To safely close all files, log out, and bring the workstation to a state where you can safely power it down. You choose "System Shutdown" from the System toolchest menu to do this.


Standard system software that lets you connect to a network using a serial cable and a modem rather than using an Ethernet cable. Once you're connected, you can use the network as if you were connected by an Ethernet cable. SLIP stands for Serial Line Internet Protocol.

Software Inventory list

The list of available and/or installed software that the Software Manager provides when you click the Customize Installation or Manage Installed Software button, and when you have chosen to display the Software Inventory pane using the Panes menu.

software option

Any software product that you buy from Silicon Graphics, Inc. other than the standard system software that comes on your system disk.

standalone system

A system that is not connected to a network.


A logical subset of all systems on a network. Typically, all systems on a subnet are physically close to each other, for example, are all located in the same building.


A portion of a software product. Each product consists of several subsystems; some are requred and some are optional. See also product and image.


An alternate name for the user of the root login account. See also system administrator.

swap space

A portion of your disk that the system uses as if it were physical memory.

System toolchest

The toolchest in the upper left portion of the screen from which you can access all system administration tools.


All the hardware and software that makes up the computer.

system account information

System account information appears in the bottom portion of a person's User Information window in the Users and Groups tool. It includes information about the type of account the person has on this system, whether the person is a Privileged User or the Primary User of the system, and which area of the system is reserved for the person (the home directory). Often this information is different on every system on which a person has an account.

system administration

A collection of tasks and responsibilities carried out by a system's Administrator to set up the system and keep it in good running order.

system disk

The disk that contains the IRIX operating system software and Silicon Graphics tools.

system software

The standard IRIX operating system software and Silicon Graphics tools that come on the system disk and on the tape or CD-ROM that you use in the event of a system crash.

system resources

Directories and peripherals that physically reside on your system.


The standard networking software that's included in the system software.


A multiuser, multi-tasking operating system from AT&T upon which Silicon Graphics Inc.'s IRIX operating system is based.


Any person who has a standard login account on the system. When a User logs in, he can change only his personal work area. A User can run the graphical administration tools, but the features of the tools that change system information are not available.

User Manager

The tool that you start from the System toolchest which lets you add, change, and delete user login accounts.


Standard system software that lets you connect to a network using a serial cable and a modem rather than using an Ethernet cable. Once you're connected, you can log into a single system through one window; your system essentially behaves like a dumb terminal.


To make a file system that is accessible from a specific directory on your system temporarily unavailable.

upgrade products

The Software Manager considers a product to be an upgrade when the product is available for installation, and is a newer version of a product that is currently installed on the system on which Software Manager is running.

user ID

A number that uniquely identifies a user to the system.

virtual swap space

A file that the system considers to be a certain size (e.g., 40MB) but actually occupies no disk space. This is useful because many programs request much more swap space than they really need in order to run, and tie up the real swap space unnecessarily. When you add virtual swap space, the system lets you start applications even when they request more swap space than is actually available. In most cases this is fine, because there is enough real swap space for them to run. See also logical swap space.


A character, usually an asterisk (*), that you use alone to specify all files and directories that are available, or with a few other letters to specify a group of files and directories that have a common element in their names. For example, to specify all files and directories that begin with the letters "ch", you would type: ch*


A portion of the screen that you can manipulate that contains text or graphics.

window close box

The small box in the upper left corner of a window that contains a horizontal bar. You double-click this box to close a window.

window manager

The system program that draws and controls windows. It lets you create and manipulate windows - move them, resize them, and close them.

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