Solaris Common Desktop Environment: User's Guide


Solaris Common Desktop Environment: User's Guide describes the basic features of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE). It describes how to use the desktop and desktop applications.

Who Should Use This Book

This book is intended for users who have Solaris Common Desktop Environment installed on their workstation and who plan to use it as their default desktop. To use this book, you should also be familiar with a three-button mouse, graphical user interfaces, and typing commands at a command-line prompt.

Before You Read This Book

You should first read the following book:

How This Book Is Organized

This book contains the following chapters:

Chapter 1, Basic Skills describes the basic skills you need to work with the Common Desktop Environment, keyboard navigation, and some common interface aspects of the desktop.

Chapter 2, Starting a Desktop Session describes how to log in to and out of the desktop, and how to set the session that will appear at login.

Chapter 3, Getting Help explains how to get help about an application and how to navigate within the help viewer.

Chapter 4, Using the Front Panel describes the Front Panel, a special desktop window that contains a set of controls for doing common tasks. It explains the Front Panel controls and how to customize the Front Panel.

Chapter 5, Managing Files with File Manager explains how to work with files and folders in the graphical user interface File Manager. It describes basic skills, navigation, manipulating and finding files and folders, and the Trash Can.

Chapter 6, Using Application Manager explains how to run applications using Application Manager, the main repository for applications in CDE.

Chapter 7, Customizing the Desktop Environment explains how to use Style Manager to customize the look and behavior of your desktop. It also describes how to set personal environment variables.

Chapter 8, Using Mailer describes how to send and receive electronic mail messages through Mailer, and how to add and retrieve attachments.

Chapter 9, Printing explains how to print through the desktop, and how to change the default printer.

Chapter 10, Using Text Editor describes the desktop Text Editor, which you can use to create and edit short documents such as memos, mail messages, or resource files.

Chapter 11, Using Calendar explains how to use Calendar to set appointments for yourself or a group, and how to create To Do lists.

Chapter 12, Using Terminal explains how to display and customize terminal emulator windows on the desktop.

Chapter 13, Using Icon Editor explains how to create files for use as desktop icons or backdrops.

Chapter 14, Using Image Viewer describes how to capture snapshots and to view, edit, print, and translate the file formats of monochrome and color images and multiple page documents such as PostScript files.

Chapter 15, Using Audio describes how to use Audio to record or play audio files.

Chapter 16, Using Address Manager describes how to find cards containing information about users, hosts, and systems, and how to perform related actions.

Chapter 17, Using Process Manager describes how to display the process running on your workstation, and how to investigate and kill these processes.

Chapter 18, Using Performance Meter describes how to monitor activity levels on your system, and how to identify errant behaviour.

Appendix A, Keyboard Shortcuts for the Desktop describes desktop keyboard navigation.

Appendix B, Running Localized Sessions explains how to change the language for your desktop session, and how to change fonts for different languages.

Appendix C, Compose Key Sequences lists the keyboard commands needed to compose special characters (for the ISO Latin-1 code set only).

Appendix D, Locale Notes describes the display, manipulation, and printing of textusing CDE and the Thai and Hebrew locales.

Glossary is a list of words and phrases found in this book and their definitions.

Related Books

Once you've read this book, you may want to read more detailed information on the desktop in Solaris Common Desktop Environment: Advanced User's and System Administrator's Guide.

Ordering Sun Documents

The SunDocssm program provides more than 250 manuals from Sun Microsystems, Inc.

For a list of documents and how to order them, see the catalog section of SunExpressSM On The Internet at

What Typographic Changes Mean

The following table describes the typographic changes used in this book.

Table P-1 Typographic Conventions

Typeface or Symbol 




The names of commands, files, and directories; on-screen computer output 

Edit your .login file.

Use ls -a to list all files.

machine_name% You have mail.


What you type, contrasted with on-screen computer output 

machine_name% su



Command-line placeholder: 

replace with a real name or value 

To delete a file, type rm filename.


Book titles, new words or terms, or words to be emphasized 

Read Chapter 6 in User's Guide. These are called class options.

You must be root to do this.

Shell Prompts in Command Examples

The following table shows the default system prompt and superuser prompt for the C shell, Bourne shell, and Korn shell.

Table P-2 Shell Prompts



C shell prompt 


C shell superuser prompt 


Bourne shell and Korn shell prompt 


Bourne shell and Korn shell superuser prompt