Mosaic Opens World Wide Web Window at LBL

April 1, 1994

By Jeffery Kahn,

Mosaic, a compelling new system for discovering, retrieving, and displaying the growing wealth of information on the Internet, has arrived at LBL.

Among longtime users of the Internet, Mosaic is being hailed as the application that will transform the Information Superhighway from a service for the "information elite" to a new medium of mass communication. Introduced some nine months ago, the number of people using Mosaic now numbers about one million and reportedly is growing at the rate of 11 percent a month.

Taking advantage of Mosaic and the new electronic medium, groups around the Laboratory are setting up computer-based libraries loaded with text, images, and scientific data. This information can be browsed from any network-linked computer or workstation at LBL or from computers anywhere on the Internet.

Mosaic provides access not only to a cornucopia of information about LBL but to the World- Wide Web (WWW) network that now spans six continents and thousands of academic, research, and industrial institutions. By clicking a mouse on highlighted words or images, computer users can call up information from other WWW databases, all of which can be read through Mosaic.

This budding resource opens up an exciting new medium for communication at LBL. It allows LBL employees unprecedented ability to share information, to discover and investigate what is going on elsewhere while, at the same time, allowing people throughout the world to learn about LBL.

Mosaic provides access to a rich body of scientific information here at the Lab. The Human Genome Center has an impressive new World Wide Web server as does the Engineering Division, which includes more than 5,000 CAD images. The Imaging and Distributed Computing Group also has set up a WWW server. Additional information is available about the Comprehensive Epidemiological Data Resource group and the STAR group. The Advanced Light Source also has opened a gateway into its new WWW archives.

A partial list of general purpose online information about LBL includes the 1993 Catalog of LBL Research Abstracts, Currents, the LBL Computing Newsletter, an archive of science article from Currents and the LBL Research Review, multiple library catalog services, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for LBL employees, and Current Jobs Offerings.

Search systems within Mosaic make it possible to quickly locate information. Every individual document can be searched for keywords. Beyond that, certain directories of files also can be searched. For instance, scores of files are included in the LBL Science Articles archives. Rather than scroll through each and every file title, you can use the directory search tool, type in the word "fusion" or the name of a scientist, and in seconds, have a list of every article containing your search word(s). The Catalog of LBL Research Abstracts which describes every funded research project in the Lab as of 1993 also is searchable in this fashion.

To help you navigate the World Wide Web, the LBL Mosaic server includes hypertext links to scores of other destinations selected because of their likely interest to the LBL community. These outside resources include other national laboratories, the White House, the Library of Congress, SLAC, CERN, major universities around the world, museums, federal archives, systems with maps, audio files, and even film clips.

Mosaic was developed in 1993 by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. It uses a hypertext-linked information-retrieval system developed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva. Berners- Lee's system originally was used for the exchange of information by high-energy physicists around the world.

As is the case globally, Mosaic is new at LBL and the information it provides about the Lab should be treated as work-in-progress. The medium is inherently dynamic. What you find online one day often will be updated and expanded the next time you view it. First-time viewers will find a surprising abundance of information available but also see multiple opportunities for enhancements. Based on the past three months experience, the medium should grow and mature quickly.

Setting up LBL's World-Wide Web databases has been a collaborative project that has involved individuals and departments lab-wide. The Information and Computing Sciences Division's Martin Gelbaum and Case Larsen have led the effort to make the World Wide Web available here. Jeff Kahn, the Public Information Department's Electronic Media Coordinator, has provided major input of information, as has the Engineering Division's Gabby Obegi and Jeff Shaw. Donn Davy and Arun Aggarwal are the "webmasters" for the Human Genome server.

To help new users of Mosaic, the Lab has scheduled an online presentation at noon Monday, April 11 in the Building 50 auditorium. Bill Johnston, who heads the Information and Computing Science Division's Imaging Technologies Group, will demonstrate how to use Mosaic and call up a sampling of the astonishing body of information now available.

How to Install Mosaic

Mosaic is public domain (free) software that allows individual computers to access information in the World Wide Web, a network that links databases at LBL and around the world.

Versions of Mosaic are available for Macintoshes, PC's, Sun, Silicon Graphics, and VAX workstations.

To install and run Mosaic from a Macintosh, get "NCSA Mosaic" from the WKSG server in the wksg zone, via Appleshare. Copy the entire NCSA Mosaic folder from the Information Retrieval folder in the Communication folder in the Public Access volume. Then, read and follow the directions in the "README-LBL" file in that folder. Macintosh users who need help should call the Workstation Group at ext. 6858.

For PC users, first you must have Windows as well as LAN Workplace for DOS installed on your PC. To install Mosaic on your PC, get the MOSAIC distribution disk from the Workstation Group and run "INSTALL." To start Mosaic, double- click on the Mosaic icon in Windows (often found in the Applications Group). PC users who need help should call the Workstation Group at ext. 6858.

Mosaic has been installed on the Sun, SGI, VAX, and Alpha computers managed by LBL's Unix and VMS groups. Note that Mosaic requires that you run X11 or OpenWindows on UNIX, or DECWindows/Motif on VMS. If you have a character-based system (such as VT100), you will not be able to run Mosaic. However, much of the information available on the World Wide can be viewed through lynx.

To access Mosaic or lynx on LBL-managed UNIX machines, at the UNIX prompt, type module load IR. If you are running X11 or OpenWindows, type mosaic. Otherwise, type lynx to run lynx.

To access Mosaic or lynx on LBL-managed VMS machines, at the VMS prompt, type local_tools IR. If you have DECWindows/Motif access to run Mosaic, type mosaic. Otherwise, type lynx.

On Macs and PCs, after installing Mosaic, you may have to change the settings (under the options pull-down menu) so that it will automatically open to the LBL World Wide Web home page rather than to a default setting that connects you to the NCSA site where Mosaic originated. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or address for the LBL WWW home page is

Remember, Mosaic is new and there are times when it will not perform as it should. The network is far-flung and a server you are trying to link to may turn out to be either inactive or unreliable. When that is the case, Mosaic will "hang" and seem to freeze up. Clicking on the Mosaic icon, a turning globe, may allow you recover from a "hang" but at times, rebooting Mosaic is necessary.

To resolve technical problems with Mosaic, first consult its internal documentation and if this doesn't answer your question, e-mail your comments to mosaic- Technical questions or comments about LBL's World Wide Web servers should be directed to or 486-HELP.