GNU Backgammon

Forum Archive : GNU Backgammon

Personal reflections

From:   Louis Nardy Pillards
Date:   10 September 2002
Subject:   GNU Backgammon - Personal reflections
Google:   3d7e298a$0$189$

First, let me say I am a Win32 user. I did use GNULinux for over a year, but
was 'forced' to use Win32 again.
Sounds not an important 'statement'... but.

All following lines are mine, solely mine.
And it will not surprise me if the people 'working' on the GNU (GNU's Not
Unix) Backgammon Project will contradict what I'm saying.

BTW: The GNU project started in 1984... quite a while ago.

The GNU Backgammon project - as all other GNU projects - had in mind to
'run' on *nix systems, GNU Linux being one of them.
The 'heart' of the program was a neural net, intended to bring a backgammon
player of a 'reasonable' level (read: expert to world class).

Those of you that have GNU Linux installed on their machines surely have
noticed last years changes. GNU Linux - as other *nix systems - used to be
a CLI (Command Line I/Enterpreter). A console in which one types commands
(yep: with the keyboard, character per character.... Windows users:
remember DOS?). And although the *nix console still is used, the GUIs
(Graphical User Interface) are 'taken over'. KDE, Gnome, Enligthment,....
those ring bells, don't they?

Not that many years ago, if one had GNU Linux installed, one *had* to be a
PC-guru. Obvious he/she had the grep, piff, ln, patch, cat, cmd and other
chroot commands in his/her fingers.
And Emacs and vi ? Hey: piece of a cake!
Anyone has any idea of the percentage of *nix users, *not* having a GUI?
That is: how many *nix users just run a console version today? And still use
Emacs or vi as primary text editor?

(now, now.... please stop babbling... what *is* your point?)

GNU Bacgammon was (and _is_) developed for *nix systems. And one can expect
a *nix user being able to configure / make a distributed source. C(++),
gcc(g++)... they may not know what it is, but they do know how to use
'configure' and 'make'.
And as long as the *nix users where the core of GNUBg 'customers', all
(well: most of them ;-)) were pleased.

And then:
two things happened (I'm squeezing time here, it took several months)
1. GNUBg was 'ported' to Win32
2. GNUBg became a (much) better player.

The porting to Win32, made it available to a (very very) wide group of PC
The (much) better player caused it to - not only be 'discovered' and 'tried
out' but - remain on those systems. Those 'user friendly' windows systems.
Those 'Point and Click', 'Drag and Drop', 'Copy and Paste' systems. (Yes
MAC users, I do know you were the first ones... just looking at the numbers
of users, OK ?)

And today we have a (very strong!) backgammon player, available to us for
free (although any donations to FSF (Free Software Foundation) are
welcome). A backgammon player developed on, and intended to be used by *nix

And the world of Win32 users *IS* using it. That world *IS* comparing it
with other Win32 programs. Those people *ARE* disappointed by the feel and
look of GNUBg.

I am a Win32 user.
I started using GNUBg in June this year (on Win, used it on GNULinux couple
of years ago).

And I do have one question, one request for Win32 users 'complaining'.
Please compare the June builds with the 020813 build?
Please do a search on Google NewsGroup and check out the replies of the GNU
Backgammon Project people?

The changes made to the 'Look and Feel' are amazing. If you realise the
GNUBg project isn't a release yet (yep, still pre-release), you must admit
the progress last months is (at least) amazing.

And if you would be able to compile todays snapshot, seeing the bigger
board (yep, much more than 40% now), the Evaluate 0,1,2,3,4 ply
'on-the-fly' buttons, the sounds (oh!!), the..., the... You would
understand: This is an ongoing project. And the changes to that project,
the improvements are done by two groups.

One of those groups is: the backgammon players.
You, the backgammon player can ask for an improvement.
And the GNUBg Project people will do there outmost best to implement it
during the next days (yes: days, not 'year').

The other group is those of people improving the 'core', the 'heart' of
GNUBg. To make it an even better player. Those changes one does not 'see'.
Yet: the improvements made to GNUBg by those guys, lifted the 'bot' to a
competing level, able to challenge whatever other 'bot'... and in a 25
point match, my money would be on GNUBg

And it doesn't take much disk space. Way under 20 Mb.
And it is fast. Fast in evaluating and fast in rollouts.
And you can do (almost) whatever you want to do.... and if there is a thing
you can't do... you can ask for it to be implemented.
And you can use the Console Mode it you want ;-) (even on Windows)

GNUBg is _not_ developed and implemented in Win32 environments.
GNBg is *nix source.
And there will be (my guess, maybe a poor one) always 'Hu?? What is this??'
faces staring at the first run of GNUBg on Windows.
Just take a second look? And a third?
And a quick warning:
Don't look a fourth time? Since one can get addicted.

Louis Nardy Pillards

GNU Backgammon is written by:
Joseph Heled, Øystein Johansen, David Montgomery, Jørn Thyssen and Gary
All credits go to them.
All 'debets' concerning this article are mine, solely mine.

GNUBg Manual:
GNUBg official homepage:
GNUBg for Windows:
GNUBg Snapshots:
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GNU Backgammon

Analyzing GamesGrid matches  (Roy Passfield, Dec 2001) 
Batch analysis tool  (Øystein Johansen, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Cache size  (Ned Cross+, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Compiling for Windows  (Øystein Johansen, Jan 2002) 
Edit mode removing checker from bar  (Scott Steiner+, May 2003) 
Entering an annotated match  (Albert Silver, Dec 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Error rates: Gnu vs. Snowie  (Raccoon, Mar 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Raccoon, Nov 2004) 
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Tom Keith+, Oct 2003) 
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Scott Steiner+, Dec 2002) 
Filter settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Nov 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Gnu 0.13 versus Jellyfish and Snowie  (Torsten Schoop, Aug 2003) 
Gnu 0.13 vs. Snowie 4  (Albert Silver, June 2003) 
Gnu 0.14 vs. Jellyfish  (Michael Howard+, July 2003) 
Gnu versus Snowie and Jellyfish  (Michael Depreli, Oct 2005) 
How luck factor is calculated  (Gregg Cattanach, Aug 2002) 
How rollouts work  (Gary Wong, July 1999) 
How to enter an illegal move  (Øystein Johansen, Aug 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Importing .gam files  (PAR+, Mar 2005) 
Importing PartyGammon matches  (rew+, July 2006) 
Improving your game using GnuBG  (D.U.G.+, Nov 2002) 
Installing on Windows  (maareyes, Oct 2001) 
Interpreting JSD's  (Adrian Wright+, Feb 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
JSD's and confidence intervals  (Daniel Murphy+, Jan 2005) 
Logging rollouts  (Øystein Johansen, Oct 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Luck rate  (Kees van den Doel+, May 2002) 
MWC versus Equity (EMG)  (Ken+, Apr 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Manually entering first roll  (Andreas Graf+, Apr 2005) 
Match equity tables  (Raccoon, July 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Personal reflections  (Louis Nardy Pillards, Sept 2002) 
Playing two computers against each other  (Stanley E. Richards+, Mar 2008)  [GammOnLine forum]
Python scripting  (Øystein Johansen+, Nov 2004) 
Quasi-random dice in rollouts  (Ian Shaw, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Question marks in game list  (Jim Segrave, July 2005) 
Questions and answers  (Jim Segrave+, Jan 2003) 
Questions and answers  (Jørn Thyssen, Aug 2002) 
Restarting a rollout with different settings  (Jim Segrave, Apr 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Restarting a rollout with different settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (geoff arnold+, Apr 2007) 
Rollout settings  (Stick+, Nov 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (Ian Dunstan, Aug 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings for the impatient  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Running rollouts in background  (Bruce+, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Saving rollout results from command-line interface  (Jeremy Bagai+, Apr 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Saving rollouts  (Mislav Radica+, May 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Setting GnuBG's playing strength  (JP White, Sept 2001) 
Setting skill level  (Jim Segrave, Apr 2004) 
Setting up and saving a rollout  (Albert Silver, Dec 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
What's GNU?  (Gary Wong, Oct 2001) 
Which player is player 0?  (Neil Kazaross+, Oct 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]

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