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Next: Desktop Computing Up: Windows 95 Installation at Previous: Announcement and Documentation

Using the New Windows 95 User Interface


The user interface has changed between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. The following paragraphs explain the main differences and show the new facilities available consistently through all programs running under Windows 95.

The Windows 95 desktop

As you probably know already, the Windows 95 desktop is quite different from the one you were used to with Windows 3.1 and it looks like the following:


These are the main differences:



Using the right mouse button and other tricks

There are a few other tricks worth knowing:




To learn more about Windows 95 and its user interface

If you want to know more about Windows 95, you should start from the on-line tutorials available in the ``Applications'' group.


In addition, the following books are available from the UCO on the ground floor of building 513 (see section 9.3):

The Icon ``My Computer''


``My Computer'' gives you access to all disks and drive letters available in your PC. As usual, you can ``open'' or ``explore'' your computer by right-clicking on it and by selecting ``open'' or ``explore''.

The drive letters that are available to all users are:

Important reminders

Windows 95 supports long names for files and directories. However, do not use long names for directories (more than 8 characters), especially on network drives. Files stored in directories with long names may not be accessible when you use 16-bit applications. In addition, do not use accented characters in file/directory names. The accented characters are not translated properly between PC and Macintosh computers. If you use long accented names on one platform, it will be impossible to open the same file from the other platform.

The files you store in your home directory (J: drive) are backed up and are available even when you move from one computer to another, but they are not available if the network is down or if your portable computer is disconnected from the CERN network. The files you store in your local disk (C: drive) are not backed up, are available only when you are logged on that computer, but they are also available when your computer is in stand-alone mode.

With Windows 95 you can now drag documents to the ``Desktop''. The ``Desktop'' is stored in the C: drive (in the c:95) and thus documents saved on the desktop are not backed up. Only the shortcuts that you put on the desktop are part of the user profile (see the chapter below), are mirrored to the home directory, and will follow you from one computer to another.

The files you store in your home directory (J: drive) are, by default, readable by anyone who opens your home directory (using the electronic phonebook or through the ``Network Neighbourhood'' - see below). The files you store in the ``private'' subdirectory of your home directory (J:) are, by default, hidden to everyone who opens your home directory. You can at any moment change the access rights of your files using the {``More Applications L{} System Configuration } Assign rights to your files'' icon in the ``Start Menu''. It is an elegant approach to read protect only the confidential files and leave readable all the others. Please, do not read protect the whole home directory tree.

The disk space on both the C: and J: drive is limited. If you run out of disk space on your home directory, you can either delete some unused files (recommended solution) or ask for more disk space on the network to the UCO. If you run out of disk space in your C: drive, you must delete some unused files (or buy a larger disk), because Windows 95 requires at least 10 MB of free disk swapping space. Otherwise you will get an ``out of memory'' error message and the system will become very unstable.


You can check the available disk space on a given drive by right-clicking on it inside ``My Computer'' and by selecting ``properties''. In all cases, during the network login, the space available in the C: drive, in the home directory, and in the mailbox are all checked and the user is notified when these are getting low.

Do not add your program shortcuts in the ``Start Menu'' because, being the start menu global to every computer, they will be erased at the next login. You should use the ``Programs'' folder in the ``Start Menu'' for this purpose.

The ``Network Neighbourhood''


The ``Network Neighbourhood'' gives you access to all network disks, printers and services. It gives a logical view of the network, seen from your computer. It shows you the servers you are currently attached to and four folders which you can access: ``Home directories'', ``Disks'', ``Servers'', and ``Printers''.

These four folders are dynamically built from the NICE and CERN databases and allow you to access any home directory / server / volume and/or install any printer.


Through the ``Network Neighbourhood'', you have also access to the public files in all home directories on the NICE network (it is also planned to give transparent access to the public files in the afs home directories used by the central Unix computers).


The icon displayed as the home directory folder is also read from the NICE database. For the moment, the way a user can change his icon is still undocumented but will soon be available. For the moment, every user has been allocated a random icon out of a pool of 43 icons in z:95. The only special care taken when assigning the icon is the gender of the user, when this is known from the CERN database.


Finally, Under the ``Entire Network'' icon, you can see the names of all services and servers advertised on the physical network. Note that Windows/NT servers are currently not visible but will appear soon.

The Home Directory

Your Home Directory can be opened using the ``xxxx's files'' shortcut on the desktop and is mapped to your J: drive (the G: points to the root of the home directory volume). Every home directory has a ``MyDocs'' subdirectory which is supposed to contain your documents, given that all the office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. ...) have been installed to save to the j: directory by default.

The j: contains a ``template'' subdirectory designed to save all your personal templates of your office documents. This directory is always searched before the z:32 directory which contains all the site-wide CERN templates.

Every home directory also has a hidden j:95 subdirectory where the user's settings are saved. It is in this directory that the user registry, the most recent files, the user's favourite places are stored. Do not touch this directory unless you fully understand what you are doing.

Your Home Directory is the place where you should put your documents. If you put your documents in your home directory, these will be backed up and they will be easily accessible by other users, even from other platforms (PC, Macintosh, Unix) or even from outside CERN, using the World Wide Web (

PC and Macintosh can access any home directory directly. Unix systems must use WWW or ftp. In general, all public readable files stored in your home directory can be accessed from the World Wide Web once the exact filename and path is known, using the address: loginname/path/filename.extension.

For example, a public readable data.doc file stored in the g: directory can be opened anywhere in the world using the URL: adrian/mydocs/data.doc.

The file default.htm in the root of your J: drive is the file sent in response to the loginname request. If you want to have an home page, just create the default.htm file in your home directory.

When a home directory is opened from the ``Network Neighbourhood'' or from the electronic phonebook, any sound file named default.wav existing in that home directory is opened and played. If a text file named default.txt exists in the same home directory, this file is displayed in a message box. By creating the default.wav and default.txt files in your home directory, you can warn/inform/notify your visitors about special characteristics of your home files.

Changing the rights other people have to your files

You can decide directory by directory what are the rights other people have to your files using the {``More Applications L{} System Configuration } Assign rights to your files'' program. Using this program, you can make a directory hidden / read only / read write / write only to any user you want.

The same program is used to set the visibility of your home directory from the World Wide Web.



As already stated, do not use long names (more than 8 characters) for directories, nor use accented characters in file/directory names in your home directory. If you do, you are asking for trouble!

Accessing application software

Important remark: Before loading any application from the network, make sure you comply with all copyright laws. Each workstation must be properly licenced to load all programs which you might use. It is the responsibility of the user to purchase all the licences he needs.

Licence information for all office programs can be obtained through the PC-Shop which also handles software purchases.

32-bit applications, 16-bit applications

A major effort has been made to replace all 16-bit applications with 32-bit applications, and it is possible to say that the majority of applications available to NICE 95 computers are today 32-bit.

32-bit applications have several advantages over their 16-bit brothers. They run in a separate address space and they can rarely crash the system. They always run in a preemptive multi-tasking environment and they can have multiple threads running in parallel. In addition they run generally faster than their corresponding 16-bit counterparts.

16-bit applications all run in the same, shared, address space meaning that the crash of a 16-bit application can easily bring down the entire system. In addition, the 16-bit application cannot handle long filenames. When you use a 16-bit application you will only be able to see the 8.3 short filenames.

On a network disk the short filename is obtained by truncation of the long names to the first eight characters of the long name. If two long files truncate to the same short name, the last character is replaced by a digit (0-9). On a local disk the rule is different. A short filename is obtained by truncation of the long names to the first six characters of the long name followed by a ' ' character and a digit. If two long files truncate to the same short name, the last digit is incremented. This means that you cannot deduce the short name from the long name and vice-versa using a predefined algorithm (within a program you have to issue the appropriate Win32 file system call to get the two names of a given file).

The Start Menu

The ``Start Menu'' is divided to two parts: the upper part (above ``Programs'') is the same on every computer and it is centrally managed. The user can only hide/unhide part of the menu using the ``More Groups'' icon in applications without being able to modify its contents.

The lower part of the ``Start Menu'', including the ``Programs'' folder is specific to every computer and letting you have your own program shortcuts as well as let you access software that was installed in the local disk of that computer. For this reason, the ``Programs'' folder is attached to the computer and it will not follow the user when he moves from one computer to another.

NICE applications should be started from the ``Start Menu''. However, if you find it more practical, you can create your own shortcuts to NICE applications on your desktop and/or your private part of the ``Start Menu'' (under ``Programs''). When you create your own shortcuts, it is important to remember that the applications can be moved at any time on the NICE disk and that your shortcut can point to the wrong, obsolete location in the NICE disks and become invalid at any moment.

The application tutorials

When a tutorial is available for a given application, it is normally made available in the {``Applications } Tutorial and Docs'' folder. Remember that the majority of these tutorials require a sound card installed in your computer in order to run properly.

Personalizing your ``Start Menu''

To edit the ``Start Menu'' you can right-click on the start button and select ``open'' or ``Explore''. This will open the c:95menu folder which contains the ``Start Menu''.

You can drag and drop any document to any place below ``Programs'' in the ``Start Menu'' to make it appear in the ``Start Menu''. It is recommended not to ``move'' your documents to the ``Start Menu'' (because there is no backup), but to leave your document in your home directory and just create a ``Shortcut'' to it in the ``Start Menu''. To create a ``Shortcut'', just drag and drop the file using the right mouse button.


Important: You should create items only in the ``Programs'' folder of the ``Start Menu''. Items outside the ``Programs'' folders will be deleted at the next login because the ``Start Menu'' is global to all computers.

User specific settings and preferences

On the CERN network, it is common to see a user moving from one computer to another. With NICE95 every user has a working environment that is independent of the particular computer he is logged on to. The basic model is that any user can move from one computer to another and he will find there his own settings and preferences (called the user profile). This solves also the problem of many users using the same computer because everyone has his own set of personal settings.

However, there are several parameters that are computer specific which should be shared among all the users on the same computer. For example, a software package installed on a local disk is available to all users using that computer, but is not available when the same users change computer.

In order to derive the maximum benefit from this architecture, it is useful to know which settings are attached to the users (and follows him from one computer to another) and which settings are attached to a computer (and are available to all users using that computer).

Global settings common to every user on every computer

The upper part of the ``Start Menu'' is common to every user on every computer as well as the configuration of the NICE software.

This makes the NICE software service common and consistent through out the laboratory. In particular, this feature allows all users to exchange directly any document and they are assured that the same application which has created the document is also available and installed, with the same options on all other computers.

Do not install items in the root of the ``Start Menu''. These will be deleted at the next login (because the ``Start Menu'' is global). You should install your favourite shortcuts in the ``Programs'' folder of the ``Start Menu'' or on the ``Desktop''.

User specific settings that follow the user from one computer to another

The following is the list of items that are attached to the user:

Remember: The user settings are read from the home directory during login and are written back during the logout process. If you simply power-off the computer without loging off, your settings will not be written back to the home directory. If you login simultaneously to more than one computer, only the settings from the computer where you have logged off the last (the last saved settings) will be kept. In addition, Windows 95 keeps a copy of the settings of all the users who have logged in the computer in the c:95 directory. This makes your settings fully available even when the network is down. When the network is down, your personal settings will be available in all the computers where you have logged in previously.

Computer specific settings, common to all users using the same computer

The following is the list of items that do not follow the user from one computer to another

Note: Shortcuts on your desktop pointing to documents on the C: drive will follow the user to other computers but they will not work on other computers (because the documents have not followed). It is a good practice to have on your desktop only shortcuts pointing to documents in your home directory.

Troubleshooting and getting help

Whenever you have a problem, the first thing to understand is whether the problem is shared by everyone or is specific to your account or to your computer. First you should try to reproduce the same problem on a different computer to understand if the problem is related to the computer. Then you should try to reproduce the same problem using a different login name to understand if the problem is related to your account.

If you believe that the problem you have is common to everyone and independent of the login name and of the computer, then you should report the problem to Thank you!

If you believe your problem is specific to your account (this is very, very unusual), you should delete all files in your j:95 directory and login to a computer where you have never logged in before in order to create a new user profile. Remember to logout properly from that computer in order to write back to your home directory the newly created profile.

There remains the last case, your problem is related to your computer. In this case, the first reaction should be to open the control panel and open ``CERN Settings'' at the ``Updates'' tab. Check all the available boxes and restart your computer twice.


This will check whatever is possible to check in your local configuration. If after the second reboot your problem persists, you will certainly be able to fix it by reinstalling NICE95.

Further reading

For a more detailed description of NICE95, see all the documents listed in the first paragraph of this chapter. The technical documentation of NICE95 is in the document ``The Windows 95 Installation at CERN'', available on NICE from z:9501.doc

next up previous
Next: Desktop Computing Up: Windows 95 Installation at Previous: Announcement and Documentation

Michel Goossens
CN Division
Tel. 3363
Thu May 30 20:08:07 METDST 1996