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Copyright ,t 1979 Xerox Corporation
Table of Contents


Alto Non-programmer's Guide 1

Bravo Manual 31
Laurel Manual 63

Markup User's Manual 85
Draw Manual 97
FTP Reference Manual U9

Neptune Reference Manual 145

. This handbook contains documentation for all the standard Alto services intended for use by non-
programmers. It is divided into seven sections, separated by heavy black dividers:

The Alto Non-programmer's Guide, which has most of the general information a non-
programmer needs.

The Bravo manual, which tells you how to prepare and edit text documents on the Alto.

The Laurel manual, which tells you how to send, receive, and manipulate messages using our
inter-Alto electronic mail system.

The Markup and Draw manuals, which tell you how to add illustrations to documents. The
Non-programmer's Guide contains some introductory material on illustrations.

Finally, two reference manuals, one for FrP, which transports files between machines, and
one for Neptune, which provides facilities for managing files on your Alto disk. These
manuals supplement the introductory information on these two programs in the Non-
programmer's Guide.

If you are new to the Alto, start at the beginning of the Non-programmer's Guide. Read the first
four sections there, and then the first two sections of the Bravo manual. Fairly early you should
also learn about Laurel. since much day-to-day communication takes place using it. After that, you
should be able to find what you need by looking at the tables of contents and browsing through the
rest of the material. If you have trouble, don't hesitate to ask an expert for help.

This handbook was originally prepared by Butler Lampson, and the present edition is the
responsibility of Ed Taft.
Alto Non-programmer's Guide

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2
2. Getting started 3
3. The Executive and the NetExec 5
3.1 Correcting typing errors 5
3.2 Starting a program 5
3.3 Aborting 6
3.4 The NetExec 6
4. Files 7
4.1 Naming conventions 7
4.2 Fi1e name patterns 7
5. Recovering from disasters 9
5.1 Reporting problems 10
6. File servers 11
6.1 Logging in 11
6.2 About files on IFS and Maxc 12
6.3 Transferring files 12
6.4 Listing and deleting files 14
6.5 Transferring files to and from another Alto 14
6.6 Access via Chat 14
6.7 Server Executive commands 16
6.8 About Maxc 17
7. Printing 19
7.1 Programs and file fonnats 19
7.2 Printing servers 19
7.3 Fonts 20
7.4 Printing from your Alto 21
7.5 Printing from Maxc 22
7.6 PressEdit 22
8. Other things 24
8.1 Copy and Rename 24
8.2 Command files 25
8.3 Dump files 25
8.4 Neptune and DDS 26
8.5 Illustrators 26
8.6 CopyDisk 27
8.7 Version numbers 27
9. Software distribution and documentation 28
9.1 Obtaining new software releases 28
9.2 Documentation 29

1. Introduction
This document is intended to tell you what you need to know to create, edit, and print text and
pictures on the Alto. It doesn't assume that you know anything about Altos, Maxc, IFS, or any of
the other facilities available to you.

You will find that things are a lot clearer if you try to learn by doing. This is especially true when
you are learning to use any of the services which use the display. Try out the things described here
as you read.

Material in small type, like this paragraph. deals with fine points which can be skipped on first reading (and perhaps on
subsequent readings as well).

Much of the documentation in this Guide is intentionally incomplete. More comprehensive
information about almost all of the programs and services described here may be found in various
on-line documents. Section 9 contains a summary of these and instructions for obtaining your own
copies of any that you need.

2. Getting started
To do anything with an Alto, you must have a disk pack. This is a circular, yellow or white object
about 15 inches in diameter and 2 inches high. Your secretary can tell you how to obtain a new
one from the stock kept by your organization.


The next step is to get the disk initialized with copies of all the programs you will need to use.
Here is how to do this:

Obtain the disk pack labeled BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK. Find an Alto that has two disk
drives, each with four square lights, a white switch and a slanted plastic window. Load the BASIC
NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK into the drive labeled O. You do this as follows:

The drive should have the white switch in the LOAD position, and the white LOAD light
should be lit. Open the door by pulling down on the handle. Put in the disk by holding it
flat, with the label facing you, and pushing it gently into the drive until it stops. Then gently
close the door and push the white switch to RUN. lbe white LOAD light will go out, and
after about a minute the yellow RUN light will go on. The disk is now loaded and ready to
go. If anything else happens, you need help.

On many double-disk Altos, the two disk drives are not labelled. The drive mounted inside the same cabinet as the Alto
isdrive O. and the one sitting on top of the cabinet is drive 1. Also, some Altos have a switch on the back of the
keyboard housing labelled NORMAL/ALTERNATE. Be sure that this switch is in the NORMAL position.

Now start the Alto. This is done by pushing the small button on the back side of the keyboard,
near the thick black cable. Pushing this button is called booting the Alto. It resets the machine
completely, and starts it up working on the disk you have just loaded. After you boot the machine,
it will tell you at the top of the screen what it thinks the state of its world is, and then it will print a
">" about halfway down the screen. When the screen looks like that, anything you type will be
read by the Executive, whose basic job is to start pp the service you want to run. There is a section
on the Executive later in this document For now, you will find everything you need to know right

You are going to use a program called CopyDisk, which copies everything on the main disk (which
you just loaded) onto another disk which you will load into the disk drive labeled 1. This copying
crases anything which is already on the disk in disk drive 1, so you should be very careful not to
copy onto a disk which has anything you want to keep. Load your new disk into the disk drive
labeled 1, doing just what you did to load the BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK into drive 0,

The CopyDisk program is not present on the BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK, but it is available
through a service called the NetExec, which can load a small number of commonly-used programs
from the Ethernet. To start the NetExec, type
'lbc CR stands for the carriage RETURN key on the keyboard. In this and later examples, what you
type is underlined in the example, and what the Alto types is not. On the screen, of course, there
won't be any underlining. It doesn't matter whether you capitalize letters or not; the capitalization
in this manual is chosen to make reading easier.

Within a few seconds, the NetExec will start up. The screen will look much the same as it did
while the Executive was running, but with "Net Executive" in the upper left corner. Now type
After a few more seconds, Copy Disk will start up, identify itself, and display a prompt of ".". You

should now go through the following dialogue:
*~.Jrom: DPOCR the digit zero, not the letter 0
Copy to: D~
Copying onto DPl will destroy its old contents.
Are you sure this is what you want to do? [Con finn] Yes
Are you still sure? [Con finn] yes
Now CopyDisk will copy the contents of the BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK (DPO, "the Disk
Pack in drive 0") onto your new disk pack (DPl)_ This takes about two minutes. While it is
running, it records its progress by moving the cursor from the top of the screen to the bottom; this
happens twice: once while the disk is being copied and again while the copy is being checked for
correctness. When it is done, if all went well it will display the message "Done. DPO and DPl are
now identical." followed by the "*" prompt. Now type
to exit Copy Disk and return control to the Executive. If something goes wrong, the message "Copy complete.
but do not trust DPl" will appear. This means that there is something wrong either with the Alto or with one of the
disk packs. Consult your local support staff.

Now you can take both disks out of the machine. Before you do, you should tell the Executive that
you are finished, by typing
You will see that after a couple of seconds the screen goes blank and starts to display a white
square that jumps around. This is an indication that the memory test program is running properly;
an Alto should always be left in this state when it is not being used.

Now take out both disks, by pushing the white switch on each drive to LOAD. The yellow READY
light should go out, and about 25 seconds later the white LOAD light should go on. Now you can
open the door (against a slight resistance) and remove the disk. Put the BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S
DISK back where you found it.

If you cannot find an Alto with two disk drives. you can do a CopyDisk from one standard (single-drive) Alto to
another: the procedure for doing this is described in section 8.6. Since it is a little more complicated than the method
just given. a novice should use it only as a last resort.


Before doing anything else, put a label on the new disk with your name, and any other identifying
information you like. This is best done by preparing a paper label that can be slipped underneath
the plastic insert on the front edge of the disk pack. Now you can take the new disk to any Alto,
load it in, boot the machine by pushing the button on the back of the keyboard, and start working.


When you do this, if you look at the information displayed at the top of the screen just after you
do the boot, you will see that it says

---- OS Version x/x ----- Alto #xxx ----- NoName ---- Basic Non-programmer's. Disk ----

This is because your new disk is an exact copy of the BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER'S DISK, which has
no owner, and owner and disk name information got copied along with everything else. To give the
disk your own name as owner, you should type
to the Executive. It will ask you whether you want the "long installation dialogue"; answer No.
When it asks you for your name, type in your Maxc or IFS account name (usually just your own

last name}, followed by a CR. When it asks you for a disk name, choose a suitable one and type
that in, again followed by a CR. Next it will ask you whether you want to give your disk a
password. If you do this, the Alto will ask you for the password every time you boot it, and won't let you do
anything until you provide it correctly. This provides a modest level of security for the information on your disk. If
you do give your disk a password, it is best to use your Maxc or lFS password, since the Alto will then know it and use
it automatically whenever you communicate with Maxc or IFS. Don't jorget the password, since there is no simple way to
find out what it is, and you will need an expert to get access to anything on your disk.

There will be a pause for a few seconds, and then the Executive wilt come back. If you assigned a
password to your disk, you will be asked for it first. Now your name is installed on the disk, and the system
witt display it near the top of the screen whenever the Executive is in control, and will put it on the
cover page of anything you print.

After you initialize a disk, you have to edit your user profile, discussed in section 2.4 of the Bravo
manuaL and your Laurel profile, described in section 3.6 of the Laurel manual. If you are reading
this manual for the first time, you will be tald how to do these things at the appropriate points.
This is mentioned here so that you wilt remember it next time you initialize a disk.

3. The Executive and the NetExec
The Executive is the program to which you are typing right after a boot. and whenever any other
program finishes its job. It has a large display area in the middle where your typing and the
Executive's responses appear. Above this the Executive displays a digital clock and some other
useful status information: the versions of the Executive and the operating system, the owner name
and disk name installed on the disk, the Ethernet address of the Alto you are using, and the
number of free pages on the disk. Whenever you call another program, the Executive's display is
erased and replaced by that of the program that you called.

3.1 Correcting typing errors

When you are typing at the Executive and you make a mistake, there are a few special keys you can
type to correct the mistake. The BS (backspace) key erases the last character you typed. Holding
down the CTRL key and typing W erases the last word you typed. The act of holding down CTRL
and typing W is called control-Wand is denoted by WC, and similarly for other control characters.
The DEL key cancels the command you were typing completely; it prints "xxx", and then starts a
new line with a fresh .. ) .. character. Nearly all programs accept AC (control-A) as a substitute for BS.

3.2 Starting a program

As we said before, the Executive is for starting up other programs which do the work you want
done. To start a program called Alpha, you just type
It doesn't matter whether you type in capitals, lower case, or a mixture of the two. If the program
needs some other information about what to do, you type that after the name of the program. For
example, there is an Executive command to type out a document on the screen. Suppose you want
to type out the document called "Notes". You just say
)Type NotesCR

The Executive won't ever do anything until you type the final CR; if you change your mind, just
type DEL to cancel the command any time before you type the CR.

Certain operations, such as Type, are performed entirely by the Executive itself, whereas most others are performed by
separate programs (also called subsystems) kept on your disk or obtained from the Ethernet Ignore this distinction for

3.3 Aborting

You can usually stop what is going on and get back to the Executive by holding down the left-hand
SHIFr key and striking the SWAT key, which is a blank key in the lower right corner of the
keyboard on Alto-Is., in the upper right corner on Alto-lIs. If this doesn't work, you can push the
boot button.
If you push the SWAT key while holding down both CTRL and SHIFf, you will find yourself talking to a service called
Swat which is of no interest to non-programmers. Usually no harm is done if this happens; you can get back to what
you were doing before by typing pc (control-P; hold down the CTRL key and type P).

3.4 The NetExec
The NetExec is a program much like the Executive in that its main purpose is to start up other
programs for you. Unlike the Executive, it loads programs from a boot server available via the
Ethernet rather than from your own disk. The NetExec makes available certain programs (such as
hardware diagnostics) that are used infrequently and that most users won't wish to keep on their
own disks. Also available are several programs useful for recovering from various sorts of disasters
that may make it impossible for you to invoke the normal Executive.

The NetExec may be started in either of two ways. If the Executive is already running, you may
simply type
A fuzzy cursor will appear in the center of the screen for a few seconds, and then the NetExec will
start up. If the Executive is not running, you can invoke the NetExec directly by holding down the
BS key and the ' (quote) key and then pushing and releasing the boot button. Keep the keys
pressed down until you see a fuzzy cursor in the center of the screen; this can take up to 5 seconds.

The NetExec's display looks much like the Executive's, but the herald contains the words "Net
Executive". The type-in conventions are identical to the Executive's. To start up a program from
the NetExec, simply type the name of that program followed by CR.

Any time this manual instructs you to "use the NetExec to invoke po., where p is the name of some
program, you should follow the above procedure. An example of this was given in the instructions
for using CopyDisk to initialize your disk (section 2).

The Executive also has a few commands for invoking programs directly from the Ethernet, without your first having to
start up the NetExec. At the present time, these programs are Chat, FfP, and Scavenger. More precisely, these
commands will obtain the correspondingly-named programs from your disk if they are present and from the Ethernet

4. Files
The Alto stores on your disk all of the material you are working on (text and pictures), as well as
most of the programs which provide the various services described here. The named unit of storage
on the disk is called a file. Each different document you handle will be stored on its own file. The
facilities for identifying fdes are not ideal, but you will get used to them after a while. Better
facilities are the subject of current research.

A file is identified by its name, which is a string of letters (upper and lower case can be used
interchangeably). digits, and any of the punctuation characters + - . ! $. A file name can have two
parts, which are called the main name and the extension; they are separated by a period. For
example, "Alto.Manual" is a file name, with main name "Alto" and extension "Manual". File
names cannot have blanks in them, or any punctuation characters except the ones just mentioned
A file name must not have more than 39 characters; most people don't notice this restriction.

4.1 Naming conventions

It is important to name your files in some systematic way, using the extension to tell what kind of
file it is, and the main name to identitY it. For instance, useful extensions might be Memo, Letter,
Note, Figure, Calendar. If you are a secretary keeping material for several people on one disk, you
can stick the person's initials in front of the extension, e.g. BWLmemo, JGMmemo etc. If you
don't have anything specific in mind, it is customary to make the extension the same as the name of
the program that creates the file. e.g., Reportbravo for a document that doesn't have any special
properties, and is written using Bravo.
Here is a modest list of extensions commonly encountered on Non-programmers' disks:
.al Alto display-format font file
.boot A file that can be booted from
.bravo Bravo-format text file
.all Command file for the Executive or other programs
.image Runnable Mesa program (subsystem)
.press Press-format file (suitable for printing)
.run Runnable Depl program (subsystem)
.- An Executive amunand that is executed directly by the Executive (there is no actual
file corresponding to this name).

The Alto doesn't care whether you capitalize letters in file names or not (i.e., ALPHA and alpha
and aLpHa refer to the same file), but it is a good idea to use capitalization to make names more
readable. This is especially useful when a name consists of more than one word, since blanks are
not allowed in file names: e.g., TripReport or MasterUst

4.2 File name patterns

The Executive provides some simple facilities for handling files. First of all, it allows you to name
a group of files by using file name patterns containing the magic characters "*" and ., #". The .....
character stands for any string of characters. For example, thc pattern "*.mcmo" stands for all the
files which have the extension "memo", and the pattern "*.BWL*" stands for all the files which
have BWL as the first three characters of the extension. The" #" stands for any single character;
for instance. "# # # .memo" stands for all the files which have a three character main name and
the extension "memo". If you are curious to see what a pattern expands into, you can type XC immediately after
typing it to get it expanded.

If you type a file name or a pattern to the Executive. and then type a TAB. it will give you a list of
all the files whose names start with that name. So, for example, typing

will get you a list of all files which have an extension starting with the characters BWL.

Another useful thing to know is this: if you are in the process of typing a file name to the
Executive, and you type ESC, it will add as many characters as it can to complete a file name. If
you type "?", it will give you a list of all the files which start with what you have already typed;
you can then go on and finish the file name.
Here is a summary of magic characters for getting file names expanded:
ESC completes the file name if possible; if not, completes as much as it can, and flashes the
TAB shows you all the file names which match what you have typed since the last blank, and
erases what you typed.
? like TAB, but doesn't erase anything.
XC retypes the command line with all file name patterns replaced by the list of file names they
expand to.

There are two more simple commands for dealing with files. To delete a file, or a group of files,
>Delete filel file2 ...CR
Warning: once you have deleted a me, you cannot get it back. Proceed with caution. If you have
enabled version numbers and there is more than one version of a file, the one with the lowest version number gets

To get the contents of a text me printed on the screen, type
>Type fileCR
If the contents won't fit on the display, the Alto will show you as much as will fit, then ask if you
want to see more. If you do, just type a space; if you want to stop, type No.

When the Executive is running, it displays two lines of status information near the top of the
screen. Included in this information is the amount of space which is left for storing files. This
space is measured in disk pages; it takes about 5 disk pages to store one page of text. It is prudent
to keep at least 150 disk pages available; if your disk has fewer, you should delete some files,
perhaps after sending them to a me server (see section 6).

At this point you know enough to use Bravo to begin creating and editing text. Bravo
is described in its own manua' which is part of the Alto User's Handbook. You should
start reading the Bravo manual, and not try to continue with this guide until you have
become familiar with the material in the first two sections of the Bravo manual. The
remainder of this guide contains more information about the Alto which you won't need
on the first day, but will probably want in the first week.

Because much of our day-to-day communication takes place by means of our Alto-
based electronic mail system. you should also start learning to use Laurel. Begin by
reading the first two sections of the Laurel manua' which is also part of the Alto
User's Handbook.