With LifeLines you maintain the database records using a screen editor. This is different than other genealogical programs where screens or forms are used to gather the data.The default screen editor for LifeLines is vi. (The DOS/Windows version defaults instead to notepad.exe.) This can be overridden by the ED, EDITOR or LLEDITOR environment variables. For example, if you prefer the emacs screen editor, and if you use a bourne-compatible shell, you may add the line: ED=emacs to your login profile file, and LifeLines will use emacs for editing.

There are five other, LifeLines specific environment variables. They are LLDATABASES, LLARCHIVES, LLPROGRAMS, LLREPORTS, and LLNEWDBDIR. LLDATABASES and LLPROGRAMS are UNIX path list variables. (LLNEWDBDIR was added in version 3.0.6.)

As of version 3.0.6, there is also a configuration file, and entries in it may be used in lieu of environment variables. It is ordinarily named .linesrc under UNIX, and lines.cfg under DOS/Windows. A sample configuration file should have been included in the distribution.

LLDATABASES can be set to a list of directories that hold LifeLines databases. When you execute the LifeLines program, these directories will be searched in turn for the database mentioned on the command line. For example, LLDATABASES=.:/home/ttw4/LifeLines/Databases indicates that databases should be searched for in the current directory first, and if not found there, then searched for in: /usr/ttw4/LifeLines/Databases

Each LifeLines database is implemented as a directory with specific contents. The LLDATABASES variable should be set to a list of directories that contain these database directories, not to a list of database directories themselves.

The environment variable LLPROGRAMS is used in the same way, but to specify the search path for LifeLines report generating and other programs (described later).

LLARCHIVES and LLREPORTS can each be set to specify a single directory. LLARCHIVES is used to select a directory where all database backup files will be stored, and LLREPORTS is used to select a directory where all generated reports and program outputs will be placed.

LLNEWDBDIR may be set to specific a single directory - new databases without paths will be created in this location if given. This is of course a convenience for users who generally put all their databases under a single common directory.

You are not required to use these environment variables; when a variable is not defined, LifeLines uses the current directory as its default value. If you do use the variables, you can override their use by specifying files and directories as either absolute or relative paths.

With version 3.0.6 or later, you may use the configuration file in lieu of environment variables. This is especially oriented towards users on MS-Windows systems, on which environment variables are not as common a configuration technique.

LifeLines uses the curses library for terminal independent I/O. This requires you to specify your terminal type with the TERM environment variable. (This is not relevant in the DOS/Windows version.)