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Re: [Bug-XBoard] [bug #34202] xboard has a 20-second startup delay runni

From: Richard Kircher
Subject: Re: [Bug-XBoard] [bug #34202] xboard has a 20-second startup delay running with Ubuntu 11.04
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2011 17:32:58 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110922 Thunderbird/3.1.15

Thank-you.  Following your advice (your last paragraph), I now have the least startup delay ever achieved from other changes suggested by h.g. muller, and Arun Persaud.  With NLS disabled, I now get a 1.8-second delay with the medium xboard size, 16-bit color depth, Ubuntu 11.04, and both Thunderbird and Firefox running in separate virtual desktops.  The delay is 1.0-seconds without Thunderbird and Firefox running in the background to add loading to the xorg graphics system.

As you may know, color depth is the largest factor effecting the startup delay caused by xorg.  The attached data (RTF) files shows the effects of color depth and various board sizes.  You will notice that for xboard-4.4.4, the best result is 4-seconds with the smallest board size (Medium) and 16-bit color depth that I am practically able to tolerate.  The 2 + 2 = 4 represents the first and second delays (render the chessboard graphic + complete text in the xboard window and be ready to run). 

After the attached data was measured, an improved total delay of 2.7-seconds was achieved using xboard-4.5.3a with a patch to xboard.c as suggested by h.g. muller:
if(gameInfo.variant != VariantNormal) gameInfo.boardWidth = 0;
(replaces code "gameInfo.boardWidth = 0;"  line 2628 in xboard.c for 4.5.3a)

Although the latest/newest version suggested (ftp://alpha.gnu.org/gnu/xboard/xboard- with the "./configure --disable-nls" change applied does produce the least delay (1.8/1.0) on my computer, I found that the pleasing woodgrain texture of the 4.5.3a version chessboard is lost with the version that has plain green/yellow colors for the chessboard.  I therefore tried the disable-nls configure change on version 4.5.3a and then added the "if(gameInfo.variant != VariantNormal) gameInfo.boardWidth = 0;" patch to xboard.c.  To my surprise, it has the same 1.8/1.0-second delay and just looks better, so that's what I'm using now.  Any explanation of what I might be doing wrong to lose the woodgrain chessboard in the latest 4.6 version would be appreciated since I do like the idea of keeping up with the latest version.

Again, thanks from a happy camper with the 1.0 to 1.8-sec delay that is much improved over the original 40-second delay with only a slight reduction in graphic quality and board size.  I'm going back to mostly playing chess, but would be happy to test any future improvements in xboard since I have a system that is sensitive to xboard start-up start-up delays that I know does not effect all other computers for some reason. 

PS- will also try to post this message to: <http://savannah.gnu.org/bugs/?34202>


On 12/21/2011 06:12 AM, Byrial Jensen wrote:
Follow-up Comment #2, bug #34202 (project xboard):


I did some test of the start up times in different versions to find what have
caused this regression.

I replaced the main loop (XtAppMainLoop) with a dummy function that returns
immediately using LD_PRELOAD, and timed the real time used by xboard from
start to exit. It was real time because presumably most of the time is spent
by the X server.

All times was about 3.2 seconds until this patch:

commit 30583dd0f88cef9b1281f2ce5fa06651bf6d4bb6
Author: Tim Mann <address@hidden>
Date:   Mon May 30 13:21:06 2011 -0700

    Add a final wildcard default for fonts.  This gives XCreateFontSet
    more freedom and lets it find fonts for some obscure charsets where
    fixed-bold or fixed-medium etc. may not have one.

That increased the time to 3.8 seconds if configured with NLS enabled. It may
possibly cause a much worse increase in start up time if you are short on RAM
and the computer have to use swap memory.

The time stayed at 3.8 s until this patch:

commit 2bc700b32c6058a3e8f9c3a70d842c525cf0a6e3
Author: H.G. Muller <address@hidden>
Date:   Mon Nov 28 11:56:18 2011 +0100

    Refrain from making unnecessary resize X request
    The window resizing code in InitDrawingSizes is suppressed when no
    change is needed. Similarly, changing piece bitmaps is suppressed when
    we stay in the same variant (and InitDrawingSizes is called e.g. because
    of chaging lineGap through the Board dialog).

It reduced the start up time to 2.3 seconds with NLS enabled and and 1.7 s
without NLS.

So my advice at the moment is:
Try the newest version from git or the latest test tar ball
(ftp://alpha.gnu.org/gnu/xboard/xboard-, configure it
without NLS (the command is "./configure --disable-nls") and see if this
solves the problem.


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