30 Apr 2001 khazad   » (Journeyer)

GNU Chess Sucks
GNU Chess support was already planned for eboard, but someone concerned with crafty's non-freeness got me adding support for it earlier than I expected. So I go to GNU's FTP directory, and start looking for GNU Chess...

1. The only tarball, for 5.02, is 30 MB long. There are no older versions at the site. I look to the 33.6 kbps modem. It looks to me.

...4 hours later...

2. uncompressed the thing, as expected there is a 103 MB PGN file for the book. Those who can't write chess engines add huge game databases. No documentation, Makefile or configure script in the toplevel directory.

3. Entered the 'doc' dir. So I must go to the src directory, run autoconf, configure and make. Sounds right.

4. When I try to compile I get an error from GCC about trying to use sp as general register for register variables. Peek the code. Peek the Makefile. Removed the -O3 switch. Ok, it compiled this time.

5. I was almost su'ing and 'make install' when I had a bad feeling. A voice says 'check the Makefile before'. This is the install target:

  cp gnuchess.exe /cygdrive/c/winboard/gnuchess.exe

GNU Chess assumes you are running Microsoft Windows. (scream) How did this crap got to bear the GNU on its name ????????

6. The doc file said I should build the binary book file from the 100-MB PGN file. I follow the exact instructions and... nothing happens. No file is written, no error message, no crash, no nothing. It just does nothing. The 100 MB file that made the whole thing so slow to download is completely useless (I can use it for Crafty, but it's useless for GNU Chess unless it builds the damn binary file)

Well, GNU Chess (in fact, any engine that talks the xboard protocol version 2) support is added to eboard, the changes are already on CVS. Wrote a harsh document about the whole experience, also on CVS by now.

I must now look for older versions of GNU Chess, maybe they suck less. I must also start looking for GPL'd (or at least free in the Debian Free Software Guidelines sense) engines. If you know of any, drop me a note.

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