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Appendix B.  Reporting Bugs and Requesting Enhancements

Sad to say, no version of GIMP has yet been absolutely perfect. Even sadder, it is likely that no version ever will be. In spite of all efforts to make everything work, a program as complicated as GIMP is bound to screw things up occasionally, or even crash.

But the fact that bugs are unavoidable does not mean that they should be passively accepted. If you find a bug in GIMP, the developers would like to know about it so they can at least try to fix it.

Suppose, then, that you have found a bug, or at least think you have: you try to do something, and the results are not what you expect. What should you do? How should you report it?

[Tip] Tip

The procedure for making an enhancement request–that is, for asking the developers to add a missing feature–is nearly the same as the procedure for reporting a bug. The only thing you do differently is to mark the report as an “enhancement” at the appropriate stage, as described below.

In common with many other free software projects, GIMP uses a bug-reporting mechanism called Bugzilla. This is a very powerful web-based system, capable of managing thousands of bug reports without losing track. In fact, GIMP shares its Bugzilla database with the entire Gnome project. At the time this is being written, Gnome Bugzilla contains 148632 bug reports–no, make that 148633.

1.  Making sure it's a Bug

The first thing you should do, before reporting a bug, is to make an effort to verify that what you are seeing really is a bug. It is hard to give a method for doing this that applies to all situations, but reading the documentation will often be useful, and discussing the question on IRC or a mailing list may also be quite helpful. If you are seeing a crash, as opposed to mere misbehavior, the odds that it is a true bug are pretty high: well written software programs are not designed to crash under any circumstances. In any case, if you have made an conscientious effort to decide whether it is really a bug, and at the end still aren't sure, then please go ahead and report it: the worst that can happen is that you will waste a bit of time for the development team.

[Note] Note

Actually there are a few things that are known to cause GIMP to crash but have turned out to be too inconvenient to be worth fixing. One of them is asking GIMP to do something that requires vast amounts of memory, such as creating an image one million pixels on a side.

You should also make sure that you are using an up-to-date version of GIMP: reporting bugs that have already been fixed is just a waste of everybody's time. (GIMP 1 is no longer maintained, so if you use it and find bugs, either upgrade to GIMP 2 or live with them.) Particularly if you are using the development version of GIMP, make sure that you can see the bug in the latest release before filing a report.

If after due consideration you still think you have a legitimate bug report or enhancement request, the next step is to go to GIMP's bugzilla query page (http://bugzilla.gnome.org/query.cgi), and try to see whether somebody else has already reported the same thing. The query page allows you to search the bug database in a variety of ways. Unfortunately this page is a bit more complicated to use than it really ought to be, but here is basically what you should do:

Figure B.1.  Bugzilla page

Bugzilla page

In this page, some items are hyperlinks leading to detailed help.

Summary:

Set this to “contains any of the words/strings”.

(the adjoining entry area)

Give one or more words that somebody would be likely to use in writing a one-sentence summary of a bug similar to yours. For example, if the problem is that zooming too much causes GIMP to crash, the word “zoom” would be good.

Product:

Set this to “GIMP

Component:, Version:, Target:

Don't do anything for these.

Text information:

For now, leave this alone. If your search does not turn up anything, it might be worth entering your search terms in the “comment” area here, but this often turns out to give you either great masses of stuff or nothing.

Status:

This field encodes the status of a bug report: whether it is still open, has been resolved, etc. You want to see all relevant bug reports, regardless of status, so you should hold down the mouse and sweep it across all entries. Leaving it alone will not work.

When you have set these things up, click on the “Search” button at either the top or bottom; they both do the same thing. The result is either a list of bug reports–hopefully not too long–or a message saying “Zarro boogs found”. If you don't find a related bug report by doing this, it may be worth trying another search with different terms. If in spite of your best efforts, you file a bug report and it ends up being resolved as “Duplicate”, don't be too upset: it has happened repeatedly to the author of this documentation, who works with GIMP Bugzilla nearly every day.


 
 
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