Solaris Common Desktop Environment: User's Guide


access privileges

Permissions granted to a user or group of users to perform various operations on a file or folder (directory). See permission.


A desktop construct that provides a method for running applications, executing commands, and other activities such as printing, removing files, and changing directories. Actions are defined in a database of configuration files.

action icon

An icon that represents an action in a File Manager or Application Manager window, or in the workspace. An action icon is created by creating an empty executable file with the same name as the action it represents.

action label

The name displayed under the icon of an action. See action name.

action name

The name associated with an action, which by default is displayed under the icon for the action. See action label.


A window, window element, or icon that is currently affected by keyboard and mouse input. Active windows are differentiated from other windows on the workspace by a distinctive title-bar color or shade. An active window element is indicated by a highlight or selection cursor.

active window

A window that receives keyboard input.


An electronic mail location of a user.

address card

A file (conforming to the vCard standard) containing contact information about a user. Address cards are displayed by the Address Manager application.


An alternative name or names assigned to a program or to an electronic mail address.

In electronic mail, an address for mailing to a group of users. An alias can be created to send electronic mail to a small group of people or to many people.

alias card

An alias (see above), as displayed in Address Manager application.


See software application.

application group

An Application Manager folder that holds a specific software application or set of software applications.

application icon

See action icon.

Application Manager

A window containing objects representing the system actions available to you.

application server

A host computer that provides access to a software application.


A choice that causes a selection (or group of selections) in a dialog box to take effect.

Appointment Editor

In Calendar, a window you use to schedule, change, or delete an appointment.

Appointment List

A chronological list of appointments displayed by Calendar.

arrow button

An element of a scroll bar used to scroll a window by small increments. Also, a control in the Front Panel used to slide up or slide down a subpanel.

arrow keys

The four directional keys on a keyboard. Also see navigation keys.


In Mailer, a data object within an electronic mail message that is displayed as an icon in the Attachments list. An attachment can be text, sound, or a graphic. Multiple messages can be added (attached) to a single electronic mail message.


The pattern that covers the workspace background.


The underlying area of a window on which elements, such as buttons and lists, are displayed.


In Help Manager, a button and Navigate menu item you use to follow links backward, in the reverse order they were traversed.

base name

The file name of an icon file minus the file-name suffixes for size (.l, .m, .s, .t) and type (.bm, .pm). For example, the base name of an icon file named is myicon.


An image stored in a raster format. Usually refers to an image limited to two colors (a foreground and a background color). Contrast with pixmap.

busy light

A control that blinks when a Front Panel action has been invoked prior to the appearance of a window or when reloading actions.


A generic term for a window control. See push button.


A software application that mimics the function of a hand-held calculator.


A software application that enables you to schedule appointments and create To Do lists.

Calendar view

The day, week, month, or year displayed in the main Calendar window.


A push button that removes a window without applying any changes made in that window.


The Address Manager application uses the concept of cards (similar to Rolodex cards) when searching and displaying information about users (address cards), hosts (host cards), and aliases (alias cards).


An acronym for Common Desktop Environment, a graphical user interface running on UNIX.

check box

A nonexclusive control whose setting is indicated by the presence or absence of a check mark. A check box has two states, on and off.


To use the mouse or keyboard to pick a menu item, button, or icon that begins a command or action. Contrast with select.


To press and release a mouse button without moving the mouse pointer. Unless otherwise specified, mouse button 1 is assumed.


A system or software application that requests services from another application, usually across a network.


A buffer that temporarily stores the last cut, copy, or pasted data.


A Front Panel control that displays the local time.


A menu item used to remove a window and all related secondary windows from all workspaces.

command-line prompt

A prompt (usually %, >, or $) that shows the computer is ready to accept commands. In a terminal emulation window, you display the command-line prompt by pressing Return.

Compose window

In Mailer, the window you use to create new electronic mail messages. Several message-composing options are available from the Compose window menu bar.

configuration file

A file that is used to customize the properties of an application.


A control intended to hold objects or data. A folder and a notebook are examples of containers.

In Mailer, your electronic mailbox and filing system that contains all mail messages. Once a message is put in a container, you can display, modify, delete, print, include, forward, and reply to it.


A generic term for a variety of elements (such as buttons, check boxes, and scroll bars) that perform an action or indicate an option setting. See Front Panel control.

Create Action

A software application that enables you to associate an icon with a command so that the command can be issued by clicking on the icon. Create Action is also used to define specific data types for an application's data files and to associate icons with those data types.

current folder

The currently opened folder in an active File Manager view.

current item, current selection

The currently highlighted item in a list.

current session

The session saved by Session Manager when you log off. At the next login, unless you specify otherwise, this session automatically opens, enabling work to continue where you left off. Contrast with home session.


A graphical device that shows the area that will receive keyboard or pointing device input.


The process of changing settings to alter the appearance and behavior of the desktop and applications running on the desktop.

data type

A mechanism that associates particular data files with the appropriate applications and actions. Data types can determine the type of a file based on file-naming conventions, such as a particular extension name, or on the contents of the file.


A value set automatically by an application.


See workspace.

dialog box

A window displayed by an application that requires user input.


Reduced contrast to show unavailable emphasis.


A collection of files and other subdirectories. In graphical user interface applications, may be called a folder.


To quickly press a mouse button twice without moving the mouse pointer. Unless otherwise specified, mouse button 1 is assumed. Double-clicking can often be used as an alternative to selecting menu items.


To press and hold down any mouse button while moving the pointer--and the object under the pointer--on the screen.

drag and drop

To directly manipulate an icon by using a pointing device to move and place the icon somewhere else. Also referred to as drag transfer.

drag transfer

See drag and drop.


After starting the drag of an object, the act of releasing the mouse button. If the object is dropped in an appropriate area, an action is initiated.

drop target

A rectangular graphic that represents the drop zone in an application.

drop zone

An area of the workspace, including the Trash Can, Print Manager, and Mailer Front Panel controls, that accepts a dropped icon. Icons can be dropped on the workspace for quick access.

duplicate button

Mouse button 2 is referred to as the duplicate button because, when clicked in an editable area, it copies the currently selected text to the position at which it was clicked.


A generic term for any entity that can be considered a standalone item in a broader context, such as an item in a list or a control in a window.


Short name for "electronic mail." Email usually describes text messages addressed and sent to you electronically and are received in your electronic mailbox. Sometimes just known as "mail."

environment variables

Standard UNIX variables that are used by the shell and by applications.

error message

A message that requires the user's immediate attention. Error messages are used to convey a message about a user error.


A file or folder (directory) access permission. For files, execute permission enables the user to run a program or shell script file. For folders (directories), execute permission enables the user to access the folder (directory) contents.

Exit button

A Front Panel control used to log out of the desktop.

extended selection

To add multiple items to a selected set by augmenting the selection technique. For example, you can add to a selection by moving the pointer to a new item and pressing Control and mouse button 2 simultaneously.


A unit of data, such as text, program, image, and so on, that is stored in a folder (directory).

File Manager

The software application that manages the files and directories on your system.

file name

The name of the file as it is stored in a folder (directory) or on a storage device. A file name consists of a base name and any suffixes. A fully qualified file name also includes the path.

file server

A host computer that stores data files used by applications.

file suffix

A suffix added to the end of a file name, often used in file typing or to categorize files for the user.

file type

Characteristics of a file that determine how it is used. The type of a file may be determined by a portion of its name (for example, the file extension) or by its content.


Used to display only objects that meet certain criteria, such as a name pattern match, and to hide all other objects from view.


The place to which keyboard input is directed, indicated by the highlight.


An icon that represents a directory.


A complete set of characters (letters, digits, and special characters) of one size and one typeface. Ten-point Helvetica bold is an example of a font.


The content of a window and the color or shading used to distinguish it from the window's background.

Front Panel

A centrally located window containing controls for accessing applications and utilities, including the workspace switch. The Front Panel occupies all workspaces.

Front Panel control

An object in the Front Panel used as an interface to basic system services and frequently performed tasks and operations. Controls in the default Front Panel are: Clock, Calendar, Mailer, Text Editor, Help Viewer, File Manager, Printer, Style Manager, Application Manager, and Trash Can.

Front Panel move handles

An area on each end of the Front Panel used for moving the Front Panel and for bringing it to the front of the workspace.

grab handles (or handles)

The small squares displayed at the corners and midpoints of a selected graphic element.


A collection of users who are referred to by a common name.

Also, a permission setting that determines a group's access to files.

Group Appointment

In Calendar, an appointment for a group of people, scheduled using the Group Appointment Editor.


In Mailer, the basic information about an electronic mail message as it appears in the mailer container. A message header displays the name of the sender, subject, the date and time it was received, and message size.


A button or menu item used to access information about objects, choices, tasks, and error messages.

help family

A set of help volumes that provide online information about related applications.

Help Index

An alphabetic listing of help topics.

help key

A designated key, usually the F1 key, used to request online help information about what the cursor is currently on.

Some keyboards have a dedicated Help key that may take the place of F1.

Help Manager

A special help volume that lists all the online help registered on your system.

Help Viewer

The software application that displays online help.

help volume

A complete body of help information about a subject.

help window

A secondary window that displays help information.

hierarchical file system

A way to organize data on computer systems using a hierarchy of containers, often called folders (directories) and files. In this scheme, folders may contain other folders and files. The successive containment of folders within folders creates the levels of organization, which is the hierarchy.


(v) To make something stand out on the screen by selecting or choosing it. Also (n) the visual indicator that something is selected.


A list of the most recently accessed commands, files, folders, or help topics.

home directory

A directory where you keep personal files and additional directories. In graphical user interface applications, may be called the home folder.


Symbolizes your home directory. For example: If your home directory is /users/anna, then HomeDirectory/bitmaps/ represents /users/anna/bitmaps/

home folder

A folder where you keep personal files and additional directories. By default, File Manager and Terminal Emulator windows are set to the home folder when you first open them. When discussing command-line activities, may be called the home directory.

home session

A choice at logout to designate a particular session, other than the one you are currently in, as the one you will automatically return to at the next login.


A computer system.

host card

The details of a host, as displayed in the Address Manager application.


In Help text, text or a graphic you click to display another Help topic.


A graphical representation of an object consisting of an image, an image background, and a label. An icon can be directly manipulated.

Icon Editor

The software application used to create new icons and to modify existing icons.


The main or default Mailer container. The Inbox receives all incoming mail. Messages can be moved out of the Inbox and put in various containers.


In a help volume, an alphabetical list of words or phrases that can be searched to find help on a subject. The Help System displays the index when you choose the Index button in a help dialog box.

insertion point

The point at which data typed on the keyboard, or pasted from the clipboard or a file, appears on the screen. In text, a synonym for cursor.

Install Icon

An item on a subpanel used to install icons into the Front Panel using drag and drop.


Internal Terminal Emulator. ITE allows use of a bitmapped display as a terminal (through command-line mode from the login screen).


Elements in a list or menu.


The text appearing next to an icon or control that names the element.


Synonym for symbolic link.


A control that contains elements from which you select. Also called selection list.

Lock button

A Front Panel control used to lock the screen.

log in

To supply a user name and password to gain access to a system or desktop session.


The process of gaining access to a system.

log out

To terminate or end access to a system or desktop session.


The termination of a desktop session.


An application that enables you to send, receive, and compose electronic mail messages.

mailer container

The electronic mail box and filing system that contains all mail messages. Once a message is put in a container, you can display, modify, delete, print, include, forward, and reply to it.

Mailer control

The Front Panel control used to start the Mailer software application. Dropping a file on the control loads the file into the Mailer Compose window.

Main Panel

The portion of the Front Panel excluding the subpanels.


A method of using one action to run another action. Also, a pairing of entities in one set with those in another set.


A choice that enlarges a window to its largest possible size.

maximize button

A button on a window's title bar that you choose to display the window in its largest size.


A list of items from which you select to perform a particular application task. Also see submenu.

menu bar

The part of the application window between the title bar and the work area where menu names are listed.

menu item

An element in a menu that represents a choice (for example, Copy on the Edit menu).


To turn a window into an icon. The push button that minimizes a window is located near the upper right corner of the window frame.

minimize button

A button on a window's title bar that you choose to display the window as an icon.


A single, underlined character in a command. The mnemonic indicates that you can choose the command by typing that letter. Mnemonics are used most commonly in menu commands; however, other buttons may also have mnemonics.

modifier key

A key that when pressed and held along with another key or mouse button changes the meaning of the second key or mouse click. Control, Alt, and Shift are examples.


A device for moving the pointer and making selections.

mouse button

A mechanism on a mouse that you press to make selections.

mouse button 1

On a mouse, the leftmost button when configured for right-handed use; the rightmost button when configured for left-handed use. Mouse button 1 is primarily used for selection, and is the default button for the "click" instruction.

mouse button 2

On a three-button mouse, the middle button. Mouse button 2 has two modes: Transfer and Adjust.

mouse button 3

On a mouse, the rightmost button when configured for right-handed use; the leftmost button when configured for left-handed use. Mouse button 3 activates pop-up menus.


A Window menu choice used to put a window in a different location on the screen.

navigation keys

The keyboard keys used to move the current location of the cursor. These include the arrow keys (with or without the Control key); the Tab key (with or without the Control or Shift keys); the Begin and End keys (with or without the Control key); and the Page Up and Page Down keys.

newline character

An unseen character that marks the end of a line of text in a document. It tells a printer or screen to break a line and start a new one.


Any logical piece of data that has associated behavior. For example, in File Manager, files, folders, actions, and applications are all considered objects. Each type of object has specific associated actions. Typically, each object is represented as an icon.

object type

A desktop mechanism used to associate particular data files with the appropriate applications and actions. Object typing defines the criteria for typing the file (such as name or contents), the appearance (the icon used in File Manager), and the behavior of the object (for example, what happens when you double-click it).


A choice that accepts the information in a window and closes it. If the window contains changed information, those changes are applied before the window is closed.

On Item help

When you choose On Item from the Help menu, the cursor changes to a question mark and you can obtain information about a particular command, operation, dialog box, or control by clicking that object.

On Item Help control

A Front Panel control used to access item help information on the Front Panel.


To replace.


To advance text displayed in a window by one full screen at a time, usually using a scroll bar.


A range of graphically displayed choices, such as colors or collections of tools, that you can select in an application.

parent directory

A directory that contains subdirectories and files. In graphical user interface applications, this may be called the parent folder.

parent folder

A folder that contains subfolders and files. When discussing command-line activities, this may be called the parent directory.


A sequence of characters that users type to prove their identity to the system.


A text string that specifies the hierarchical location of a folder (directory).


To temporarily suspend a process without ending it.


A setting that determines how users or groups of users may access a file or folder (directory).


An image stored in a raster format. Usually refers to an image that may have more than two colors. Contrast with bitmap.


To move the mouse until the pointer rests on a particular screen element or area.


A cursor that shows the area that receives input from a pointing device. The pointer can take the form of an arrow, an I-beam, a cross, or other graphic. Also see cursor.

pop-up menu

A menu that, when requested, is displayed next to the object with which it is associated. Pop-up menus are usually displayed by clicking mouse button 3 or pressing Shift+F10.

Print Manager

A software application that shows all the printers on your system.

print server

A host computer to which one or more printers are connected, or the UNIX process that manages those printers.

Printer control

The Front Panel control used to start the Printer software application. Dropping a file on the control displays a dialog box you can use to print the file to the default printer.

Printer Jobs

A software application that provides information about jobs on a single printer.


A sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret and execute.


A menu item used to set characteristics of an item, such as its date or name, or display identifying characteristics of an item, such as typefaces.

pull-down menu

A menu of related choices that extends from a cascading choice when you click mouse button 1 on a menu bar item or the Window menu button.

push button

A control that immediately starts an action by an application, usually executing a command (such as Apply), displaying a window, or displaying a menu.


An ordered list of jobs waiting to be performed.

radio button

An exclusive control whose setting is indicated by the presence or absence of a graphical indicator, usually part of a radio group. A radio button has two states, on and off.


Permission to look at the data in a file or permission to list the files and folders (directories) in a folder (directory).


A button or menu item used to return an item to the condition it was in when it was last opened or to the condition it was in before the most recent changes were applied to it, whichever is more recent.

resize border

A control used to change the size of a window or a pane in a window.


A mechanism of the X Window SystemTM for specifying an attribute (appearance or behavior) of a window or application. Resources are usually named after the elements they control.


To stop a process and start it again.


A menu item used to return a window to the size and position it occupied before you minimized or maximized it.

root, root user

See superuser.

root directory

In a hierarchical file system, the directory that contains all other directories and files. Represented by a / (slash) in UNIX systems.


To start an application or action.


A box on a separator or split bar that enables you to increase or decrease the size of a window pane using the mouse. You can navigate to the sash using the keyboard.

screen lock

A function that locks the workstation screen, barring further input until the valid user password is entered.

screen saver

A choice that, after a specified time period, switches off the workstation display or varies the images that are displayed, thereby prolonging the life of the screen.


To move the cursor through data one increment at a time. While scrolling, data shifts within the window to indicate the current position of the cursor.

scroll bar

A control located at the right or bottom of a window that enables you to display window content not currently visible.

scroll box

The part of a scroll bar that shows the position of the visible information relative to the total amount of information available in a window. You click a scroll box to see information that is not currently visible.


To add highlighting or some other visual cue to an item or element so that it can be operated or enabled. Selection does not imply the initiation of an action but rather a change of state, such as highlighting an item in a list, or toggling a check box on.


A system that supplies services to a client.


The elapsed time between user login and logout. Also, a particular configuration of workspaces that includes Style Manager settings, open applications, and the size and position of objects.

Session Manager

A software application that controls saving sessions, restoring sessions, screen locking and unlocking, and the use of screen savers. When a session is saved, the state of the desktop environment (location of icons, size and location of open windows, open/closed status of applications, current color palette, and so on) is preserved so that it can be restored at the next login.

session server

A system that provides networked sessions. Session files reside on the session server and are used whenever you log in to a system on the network.


General term for a mouse gesture that simplifies filling out a dialog box. For example: As a shortcut, double-click an item in the Filename list box to select it and choose OK in one action.

shortcut keys

A keyboard key sequence used to activate a menu item, usually through a special accelerator key. For example: Press Alt+F to choose Print from the File menu.


A control that uses a track and arm to set a value from among the available values. The position of the arm (or a separate indicator) gives the currently set value.

software application

A computer program that provides you with tools to do work. Style Manager, Text Editor, and File Manager are examples of software applications.

status area

A part of a window where information is displayed that shows the state of an object or the state of a particular view of an object.

Style Manager

The software application used to customize some of the visual elements and system device behaviors of the workspace environment, including colors and fonts, and keyboard, mouse, window, and session start-up behaviors.


A directory contained within another directory (sometimes called the parent directory). In graphical user interface applications, this may be called a subfolder.


A folder contained within another folder (sometimes called the parent folder). When discussing command-line activities, this may be called a subdirectory.


A menu displayed by choosing an item from a menu.


An extension of the Front Panel that slides up, providing access to additional elements. Subpanels usually contain groups of related elements.


A part of a file name, added at the end, separated from other suffixes or the base file name by some punctuation, such as a period (.).


A login identity that enables special permissions for modifying system files that most users do not have permission to modify. Superuser is also called "the root user" or "root" because the user ID for superuser is root. On most computer systems, only a few users have permission to become superuser.

symbolic link

A type of link that is capable of pointing to a file or directory that resides on another physical storage device or partition.


In Mailer, an ASCII file you can create for conveniently including frequently typed information, such as your name and electronic mail address, in your mail messages.


In theCDE, an icon used to open a terminal window.

terminal emulator

A window that emulates a particular type of terminal for running nonwindow programs. Terminal emulator windows are most commonly used for typing commands to interact with the computer's operating environment.

text cursor

A cursor that shows the insertion point for textual input. This cursor usually takes the form of an I-beam. Contrast with location cursor and pointer.

Text Editor

The software application used to create and edit documents.

text field

A rectangular area in a window where information is typed. Text fields with keyboard focus have a blinking text insertion cursor.

title bar

The topmost area of a window containing the window title, window menu button, and the maximize and minimize buttons. See also window title.


To change the state of a two-state control, such as a radio button or check box, using either the mouse or keyboard.

topic tree

In a general help dialog box, a list of topics that can be selected to display help information.

Trash Can

A container for deleted files or folders.

tree view

A view of a folder or files that includes all lower-level folders in the search path.

user name

An identifier for making a user known to the system. Sometimes called a login name. For example, a user whose name is John Doe might have the user name jdoe. The login screen prompts for the user name.


A rectangular area on the display. Software applications typically have one main window from which secondary windows, called dialog boxes, can be opened.

window frame

The visible part of a window that surrounds a software application. A window frame can contain up to five controls: title bar, resize borders, minimize button, maximize button, and the Window menu button.

window icon

A minimized window.

Window Manager

The software application that provides users with the capability to manipulate windows on the workspace; for example, opening, resizing, moving, and closing windows.

Window menu

The menu displayed by choosing the Window menu button. The menu provides choices that manipulate the location or size of the window, such as Move, Size, Minimize, and Maximize.

Window menu button

The control at the upper left corner of a window, next to the title bar. Choosing it displays the Window menu.

work area

The part of a window where controls and text appear.


The current screen display, the icons and windows it contains, and the unoccupied screen area where icons can be placed.

workspace backdrop

See backdrop.

workspace background

The portion of the display not covered by windows or icons.

workspace icon

An icon that has been copied from File Manager to the workspace.

Workspace Manager

The software application that controls the size, placement, and operation of windows within multiple workspaces.

Workspace menu

The menu displayed by pointing at an unoccupied area of the workspace and clicking button 3 on the mouse.

workspace object

An object that resides in a workspace, rather than inside a viewer in a window. Workspace objects include windows, icons (minimized windows), and objects that have been dragged from File Manager and Application Manager and dropped on a workspace.

workspace switch

A control that enables you to select one workspace from among several workspaces.

workspace switch area

The rectangular area in the center of the Front Panel that contains the workspace switches, the Lock control, the Exit button, and the busy light.

Wrap To Fit

In Text Editor, this setting controls whether lines are automatically wrapped to fit the window width as you enter text. If set, lines wrap at the edge of the window. If not set, you must press Return to end the line.


Permission to modify the contents of a file or folder.