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20. Reporting Bugs

Your bug reports play an essential role in making GNU Fortran reliable.

When you encounter a problem, the first thing to do is to see if it is already known. See section 18. Known Causes of Trouble with GNU Fortran. If it isn't known, then you should report the problem.

Reporting a bug might help you by bringing a solution to your problem, or it might not. (If it does not, look in the service directory; see 21. How To Get Help with GNU Fortran.) In any case, the principal function of a bug report is to help the entire community by making the next version of GNU Fortran work better. Bug reports are your contribution to the maintenance of GNU Fortran.

Since the maintainers are very overloaded, we cannot respond to every bug report. However, if the bug has not been fixed, we are likely to send you a patch and ask you to tell us whether it works.

In order for a bug report to serve its purpose, you must include the information that makes for fixing the bug.

20.1 Have You Found a Bug?  Have you really found a bug?
20.2 Where to Report Bugs  Where to send your bug report.
20.3 How to Report Bugs  How to report a bug effectively.
20.4 Sending Patches for GNU Fortran  How to send a patch for GNU Fortran.

See section Known Causes of Trouble with GNU Fortran, for information on problems we already know about.

See section How To Get Help with GNU Fortran, for information on where to ask for help.

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20.1 Have You Found a Bug?

If you are not sure whether you have found a bug, here are some guidelines:

Many, perhaps most, bug reports against g77 turn out to be bugs in the user's code. While we find such bug reports educational, they sometimes take a considerable amount of time to track down or at least respond to--time we could be spending making g77, not some user's code, better.

Some steps you can take to verify that the bug is not certainly in the code you're compiling with g77:

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20.2 Where to Report Bugs

Send bug reports for GNU Fortran to [email protected] or [email protected].

Often people think of posting bug reports to a newsgroup instead of mailing them. This sometimes appears to work, but it has one problem which can be crucial: a newsgroup posting does not contain a mail path back to the sender. Thus, if maintainers need more information, they might be unable to reach you. For this reason, you should always send bug reports by mail to the proper mailing list.

As a last resort, send bug reports on paper to:

GNU Compiler Bugs
Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place - Suite 330
Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA

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20.3 How to Report Bugs

The fundamental principle of reporting bugs usefully is this: report all the facts. If you are not sure whether to state a fact or leave it out, state it!

Often people omit facts because they think they know what causes the problem and they conclude that some details don't matter. Thus, you might assume that the name of the variable you use in an example does not matter. Well, probably it doesn't, but one cannot be sure. Perhaps the bug is a stray memory reference which happens to fetch from the location where that name is stored in memory; perhaps, if the name were different, the contents of that location would fool the compiler into doing the right thing despite the bug. Play it safe and give a specific, complete example. That is the easiest thing for you to do, and the most helpful.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a bug report is to enable someone to fix the bug if it is not known. It isn't very important what happens if the bug is already known. Therefore, always write your bug reports on the assumption that the bug is not known.

Sometimes people give a few sketchy facts and ask, "Does this ring a bell?" This cannot help us fix a bug, so it is rarely helpful. We respond by asking for enough details to enable us to investigate. You might as well expedite matters by sending them to begin with. (Besides, there are enough bells ringing around here as it is.)

Try to make your bug report self-contained. If we have to ask you for more information, it is best if you include all the previous information in your response, as well as the information that was missing.

Please report each bug in a separate message. This makes it easier for us to track which bugs have been fixed and to forward your bugs reports to the appropriate maintainer.

Do not compress and encode any part of your bug report using programs such as `uuencode'. If you do so it will slow down the processing of your bug. If you must submit multiple large files, use `shar', which allows us to read your message without having to run any decompression programs.

(As a special exception for GNU Fortran bug-reporting, at least for now, if you are sending more than a few lines of code, if your program's source file format contains "interesting" things like trailing spaces or strange characters, or if you need to include binary data files, it is acceptable to put all the files together in a tar archive, and, whether you need to do that, it is acceptable to then compress the single file (tar archive or source file) using gzip and encode it via uuencode. Do not use any MIME stuff--the current maintainer can't decode this. Using compress instead of gzip is acceptable, assuming you have licensed the use of the patented algorithm in compress from Unisys.)

To enable someone to investigate the bug, you should include all these things:

Here are some things that are not necessary:

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20.4 Sending Patches for GNU Fortran

If you would like to write bug fixes or improvements for the GNU Fortran compiler, that is very helpful. Send suggested fixes to the bug report mailing list, [email protected] or [email protected].

Please follow these guidelines so we can study your patches efficiently. If you don't follow these guidelines, your information might still be useful, but using it will take extra work. Maintaining GNU Fortran is a lot of work in the best of circumstances, and we can't keep up unless you do your best to help.

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