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Known Causes of Trouble with Octave

This section describes known problems that affect users of Octave. Most of these are not Octave bugs per se--if they were, we would fix them. But the result for a user may be like the result of a bug.

Some of these problems are due to bugs in other software, some are missing features that are too much work to add, and some are places where people's opinions differ as to what is best.

Actual Bugs We Haven't Fixed Yet

A list of ideas for future enhancements is distributed with Octave. See the file `PROJECTS' in the top level directory in the source distribution.

Reporting Bugs

Your bug reports play an essential role in making Octave reliable.

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

Reporting a bug may help you by bringing a solution to your problem, or it may not. In any case, the principal function of a bug report is to help the entire community by making the next version of Octave work better. Bug reports are your contribution to the maintenance of Octave.

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

If you have Octave working at all, the easiest way to prepare a complete bug report is to use the Octave function bug_report. When you execute this function, Octave will prompt you for a subject and then invoke the editor on a file that already contains all the configuration information. When you exit the editor, Octave will mail the bug report for you.

Have You Found a Bug?

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

Where to Report Bugs

If you have Octave working at all, the easiest way to prepare a complete bug report is to use the Octave function bug_report. When you execute this function, Octave will prompt you for a subject and then invoke the editor on a file that already contains all the configuration information. When you exit the editor, Octave will mail the bug report for you.

If for some reason you cannot use Octave's bug_report function, send bug reports for Octave to:

bug-octave@bevo.che.wisc.edu

Do not send bug reports to `help-octave'. Most users of Octave do not want to receive bug reports. Those that do have asked to be on `bug-octave'.

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

Octave Bugs c/o John W. Eaton
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Chemical Engineering
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53706  USA

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 interpreter into doing the right thing despite the bug. Play it safe and give a specific, complete example.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a bug report is to enable someone to fix the bug if it is not known. 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. It is better to send a complete bug report to begin with.

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.

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

Here are some things that are not necessary:

Sending Patches for Octave

If you would like to write bug fixes or improvements for Octave, that is very helpful. When you send your changes, please follow these guidelines to avoid causing extra work for us in studying the patches.

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

How To Get Help with Octave

If you need help installing, using or changing Octave, the mailing list

help-octave@bevo.che.wisc.edu

exists for the discussion of Octave matters related to using, installing, and porting Octave. If you would like to join the discussion, please send a short note to

help-octave-request@bevo.che.wisc.edu
            ^^^^^^^

Please do not send requests to be added or removed from the the mailing list, or other administrative trivia to the list itself.


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