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Re: [XBoard-devel] startup error

From: h . g . muller
Subject: Re: [XBoard-devel] startup error
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 23:14:18 +0200 (MEST)
User-agent: SquirrelMail/1.5.2 [SVN]

> at the moment xboard is looking for fairymax as a chess engine when you
> start it without any options, which probably results in an error on most
> system. Should we change it, so that it tries a bunch of common engines
> (if called without -fcp, say fairymax, crafty, gnuchess) and if it
> doesn't find any goes into EditGame mode?
> Think that might be a better default.

It would definitely make more sense if non-existence of the
firstChessProgram only leads to an error if you actually try to use that
engine (like is already the case for the secondChessProgram).
Unfortunately XBoard is written in such a way that it tries to use the
firstChessProgram (if there is one) all the time. Even in Edit Game mode
or when Observing ICS games. (I already partly suppressed that, for it
made no sense that you could not observe, say, a Crayzyhouse game when
logged in in zippy mode with an engine that could play only normal.)

It is also not so easy to change mode to -ncp on a failure to start-up the
engine, as this failure is discoverd after the child is forked off to run
the engine.

So it is not a simple change, and I'd rather not mess with it so close
before release. I don't think -ncp would be the best default mode to start
in. If you have an engine installed, you usually want to load it (when not
using -ics mode). XBoard has always had this problem that a missing engine
causes a startup error, so people will be used to it. Therefore I'd rather
leave the fix for a future version, where we can fundamentally solve it by
allowing engine replacement at run time.

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