Langue: en

Version: August 2003 (debian - 07/07/09)

Section: 7 (Divers)


gnats - Problem Report Management System


GNATS is a bug-tracking tool designed for use at a central support site. Software users who experience problems use tools provided with GNATS to submit Problem Reports to the the maintainers of that software; GNATS partially automates the tracking of these problems by:
organizing problem reports into a database and notifying responsible parties of suspected bugs;
allowing support personnel and their managers to edit, query and report on accumulated bugs; and
providing a reliable archive of problems with a given program and a history of the life of the program by preserving its reported problems and their subsequent solutions.

GNATS offers many of the same features offered by more generic databases. You can query and edit existing problem reports (PRs) as well as obtain reports on groups of PRs. The database itself is simply an ordered repository for problem reports; each PR receives a unique, incremental PR number which identifies it throughout its lifetime.

Many of the primary functions available with GNATS are accessible from within GNU Emacs.


PRs go through several states in their lifetimes. The set of states is site-specific.

The default set of states are:

the initial state of every PR; this means the PR has been filed and the person or group responsible for it has been notified of the suspected problem
the problem has been examined and work toward a solution has begun
a solution has been found and tested at the support site, and sent to the party who reported the problem; that party is testing the solution
the solution has been confirmed by the party which reported it

In some cases, it may be necessary to suspend work on a bug; in this case, its state changes to suspended rather than closed.


Incoming PRs are assigned an incremental serial number and filed according to category. An index is kept concurrently to accelerate searches of the database.

All GNATS administration and database files are located in subdirectories of a directory associated with each database. Databases are named, and the association between database names and directories is described by the databases file, which is found on this system in /usr/etc/gnats/databases.

Problem Reports are segregated into subdirectories within the database directory by category. For example, problems submitted with a category of gcc will be filed in the database subdirectory gcc.

GNATS administration files are kept in the database subdirectory gnats-adm:

addresses contains mappings between submitter IDs and corresponding e-mail addresses
table of valid categories and parties responsible for them
table of valid classes of Problem Reports
keeps track of incremental PR numbers assigned
describes the structure of the database, and various database-specific options
lists host names and access levels of hosts authorized to access the database
lists user names, passwords and access levels of users authorized to access the database
database index
directory containing lock files
table of responsible parties and their email addresses
table of valid states of Problem Reports
database of sites which submit PRs

Administrative programs and programs internal to GNATS are kept in the directory /usr/libexec/gnats while those meant for public use are installed in /usr/bin.

/usr/libexec/gnats contains the programs:

used by the GNATS administrator to create a new database
used by the GNATS administrator to create new categories [obsolete]
used by the GNATS administrator to remove outdated categories [obsolete]
used by the GNATS administrator to generate a new version of the index
mail control program which accepts incoming messages and periodically submits them to the database via cron by feeding them through the program file-pr(8)
program which is mainly responsible for editing existing PRs and filing new ones; it is used by edit-pr and file-pr
script which uses pr-edit to file new PRs
automatically notifies responsible parties if a PR is not analyzed within a requisite period defined in the submitters file
used to delete closed PRs

/usr/bin contains the programs

used to query the database
used to edit individual PRs
used to submit problems to GNATS

Documentation exists for all programs associated with GNATS.


Keeping Track: Managing Messages With GNATS (also installed as the GNU Info file

databases(5), dbconfig(5), delete-pr(8), edit-pr(1) file-pr(8), gen-index(8), gnats(7), gnatsd(8), mkcat(8), mkdb(8), pr-edit(8), query-pr(1), queue-pr(8), send-pr(1).


GNATS was greatly inspired by the BSD sendbug(1) and bugfiler(8) programs. It was originally written in C++, Elisp, shell script, and awk. It presently consists of utilities written in C, shell script, and Elisp.


GNATS was originally written by Heinz G. Seidl (Cygnus Support). Subsequent iterations were developed by Brendan Kehoe (Cygnus Support) and Jason Merrill (Cygnus Support), with help from Tim Wicinski. Documentation was initially developed by Jeffrey Osier (Cygnus Support) and Brendan Kehoe (Cygnus Support).

Version 4.x was a substantial rewrite done by Bob Manson (Juniper Networks), Milan Zamazal and Yngve Svendsen (Clustra Systems / Sun Microsystems)


Copyright (c) 1992, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2003, Free Software Foundation

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