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[XBoard-devel] WinBoard installer

From: h.g. muller
Subject: [XBoard-devel] WinBoard installer
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 2009 19:59:30 +0200

I think it is time to have an open discussion on the WinBoard installer,
and the connected question what we actually want to supply in the install
package. Jaap Weidmann, wo offered to do the installer, just let me know
that he thinks it would be no problem to make a flexible install, where people
can check their 'user profile', and depending on it get one set of components
or the other. So the strategy I wanted to propose is that we define a maximum
install, containing everything we can and should supply for whatever purpose,
and then decide which subsets of it would be useful for which type of users.

Possible user profiles I could think of are:
- ICS user: uses XBoard for playing on-line against other humans
- Analyzer: wants to analyze his own games or PGN games with the best possible engine - Fun player: wants to play against a computer opponent he has a chance of beating
- Chess-variant player: similar, but interested in many different variants
- Xiangqi player: similar, but mainly intersted in Chinese Chess
- Engine collector: wants to play many different engines
- Engine tester: wants to play enine-engine tournaments.
- Bot master: wants to play engines on an ICS
- Customizer: cares for a fancy display

For the 'maximum install' I had something in mind like the WinBoard Gold Pack,
augmented with more variant adapters and more (variant) engines. We obviously
have to think in how far we want to or can go supplying engines. Not all engines have compatible licenses, and not all engines are interesting. I think the policy
here should be to support a minimal set that covers most needs.

For components, we can make the following sub-division:
- GUI: (WinBoard, of course, but the ini file is a non-trivial component)
- Protocol adapters (Polyglot, UCCI2WB, QH2WB, Smirfoglot)
- Tournament manager (PSWBTM)
- Display enhancements (board-texture bitmaps, fonts, engine logos)
- Opening books (default.bin, xq.bin)
- Short-cuts (for most common tasks)
- Sample engines (WB, UCI, UCCI(?), variants)
- ICS adapters (timeseal, timestamp)

It seems to me that the 'Fun player' and the ''ICS user' profiles require the
smallest setups. Apart from winboard.exe and winboard.ini, they would
need either an engine (which would appear by default in the start-up dialog),
or timeseal.exe and timestamp.exe. Perhaps we should always supply WB
wth at least one engine installed in any profile, if only to prevent that people
cannot start it up in the default mode by clicking OK in the start-up dialog
without doing anything else. I propose to use Fairy-Max for this purpose,
as it is tiny (35 KB), so it will not cause much hardship even in profiles that
strictly speaking would not need an engine (e.g. the ICS user).

Perhaps we should include some of the very small components always anyway,
as little is to be gained leaving them out. And you never know; it is not good
policy to put an immediate obstacle on the way of those wanting to expand their
horizon. This holds not only for Fairy-Max, but also for timestamp (50 KB),
timeseal (50 KB), Polyglot (28 KB).

PSWBTM.exe is only useful for the engine-tester profile. Perhaps we should
supply BayesElo.exe and a program to make cross tables out of PGN files
with it. This profile further includes the engine-collector stuff.

For the engine collector (assuming Polyglot is standard) we should supply
an opening book and a tool to install polyglot engines. (If we can find one.)
Apart from a WinBoard engine, we should supply at least one UCI engine,
as an example of how to install it. Perhaps GNU Chess and Fruit?

Variantists should get the Smirfogot adapter for 10x8 Chess. They definitely
should get Fairy-Max and its close derivatives ShaMax and MaxQi (all in one
folder). In addition they should get a Crazyhouse engine (Sunsetter is an
open-source one, I believe). We probably cannot include Pulsar or TJshogi.
It might be a good idea to somehow create a mechanism to faciitate users
in obtaining software that we cannot bundle for legal reasons. SMIRF, Pusar
and TJshogi should definitely get the status of such 'highly recommended
software' for the variantist profile.

It makes sense to provide a separate profile for Chinese Chess players, as
in general they would want to use WinBoard with completely different settings.
In particular, they will want to replace the pieces by font-based rendering of
a XIANGQI font, and will need a bitmap of the Xiangqi grid board. The UCCI2WB
adapter would be as essential to them as Polyglot is to us. As engines we could
supply MaxQi and HaQiKi D. The QH2WB adapter coldbe included as well. (Not
so important, but very small.)

For the analyer profile one needs a strong engine which supports analyze mode.
One thinks of Crafty (but the license might be a problem). Does anyone know
another good candidate engine for this?

For the custmizer profile (which might hve to be orthogonally selectable on top
of any other profile) we might want to include some Chess fonts (but do there
exist GPL'd or free Chess fonts?), and some board-texture bitmaps. (The Gold
Pack supplies a plywood texture, we might want to include marmoleum and
sandstone textures as well. We might have to make the bitmaps ourselves,
though, to avoid copyright problems.)

So ar my suggestions.

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