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Here, we will learn how to get and use Golly, the most used program for viewing Life.

Installing Golly

First, we need to actually get Golly.

Mobile devices

If you are looking to use Golly on an Apple or Android mobile device, this is pretty easy, go to the App Store/Play Store and search for "Golly", you should find the first result to be it. The icon should look like a yellow box with a blue pattern.


If you are on PC, this is a bit trickier, but still easy. First, go to the Golly homepage. Then, scroll down a bit, and above the pictures, you should find some text that says:
"Download a source or binary distribution."
Click the download link, or the first word in the sentence above. After that you will be taken to another site. Click the link at the top for the latest version. After downloading it, find it (Usually in the downloads folder), move it to wherever you like, and right-click the zip file and then click "extract to XXX". Open the folder that it's in, and (optionally) create a desktop shortcut for easy access. Done! You have successfully installed Golly!

How to use Golly

Here we will cover basic controlls for Golly.

Drawing and running patterns

For your first simulation:
First, click the pencil icon. Next, scribble around or draw something. After you have created a masterpiece, click the green triangle at the top left to run the pattern (If you want to go one step, press space.), if you want to stop the simulation (Maybe you found something cool), either press the green triangle that has changed into a red square or press space. To rewind to the starting pattern, press the rewind button at the top left below the green arrow. There! You got the hang of it.

RLEs and pattern files

Just like with any editor, you can copy/paste in Golly. To do this, select an area by clicking the select button (looks like a dashed rectangle) and dragging the mouse to make a selection, now click Ctrl+C or your copy button. There you have copied a pattern onto your clipboard! But how does Golly copy an image? Try pasting (Ctrl+V) the pattern onto notepad or a text editor of some kind. You will see some code. That is called an RLE file. To learn more about RLE, go to the RLE page. So now you know how to copy, but how to paste? Simple, just press Ctrl+V in Golly and if the RLE is correct, it should paste a pattern where you click. Try pasting the following into Golly (You should know if it worked): x = 37, y = 30, rule = B/S012345678
4bo9bo$4b2o7b2o$5b3o4b2o3b9o10bo$7b2o2b2o4bo7b2o2bo6bo$9b3o4bo9bo2bo6b o$10bo5bo9bo2bo6bo$10bo5bo9bo2bo6bo$10bo5bo8b2o2bo5bo$10bo5bo8bo3bo5bo $10bo5b2o6bo4bo5bo$10bo6bo6bo4bo4b2o$10bo6bo5b2o4bo2b3o$10bo6b2o3b2o5b 4o$10bo7b4o6$4o$o2b3o4bo3b2o$o5bo3bo3b3o9bo2b5o2bo$o5bo3bo3bob2o8bo4bo 4bo$o5bo3bo3bo2b3o6bo4bo4bo$o5bo3bo3bo4bo6bo4bo4bo$o5bo3bo3bo3b2o6bo4b o4bo$o5bo3bo3bo2b2o7bo4bo4bo$o5bo3bo3bob2o8bo4bo4bo$o4bo4bo3b3o9bo4bo$ 5o5bo15bo4bo4bo!

You can find a lot of patterns on the forums to try out. But before posting anything there, make sure to read the rules! In the next lesson, we will learn more about Golly and some features it has.

Next Lesson!