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.