XLife uses Xlib based Spartan style very fast interface. Many of XLife features are only accessible via keyboard.
The most useful commands to start the game:
? - help (sorry, it contains too much info) l/S - load/save pattern o - one step C - clear pattern space g - run (it can be too fast!) m/f - set medium/fast speed 5 - go to the center of living cells @ - toggle history (2-state only) H - toggle history record E - roll pseudocolors (2-state only) c - toggle cell counter B - fastest evolution V - view pattern comments v - view settings I - insert tentative pattern (this will be made automatically after `o' or `g') X/Z - load/reset palette / - cells statistics R - set rules by word (life, life+, wireworld, brian) or by description (23/3 - Conway's life, /2 - seeds, /2/3 - Brian's brain, /1/256 - wondersnow, 345/2/4 - star wars, ...) T - set topology, e.g., T1024x768 - torus, P256x0 - plain, Q - reset Q - quit
The (shift+) cursor keys move screen. Use mouse button 1 to draw, button 3 to clear, and button 2 to select area or to move screen.
It is possible to unite rules with topology by R command, e.g., /1/256:T1200x800.