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How should one report a problem in a GNU utility?

From: Jon Hitchcock
Subject: How should one report a problem in a GNU utility?
Date: 23 Oct 2001 07:15:18 -0700

I discovered a problem in the mkdir utility in Red Hat 7.0, and sent a
message (see copy below) to address@hidden (as suggested by the
--help option).  I received no reply or acknowledgement, so I do not
know if anyone received it.

I know how to avoid the problem, and my only reason for reporting it
was to help others by encouraging a fix to be done.  If I think nothing
happens to these reports, I will be less inclined to report anything I
find in the future.

Also, what is the significance of the 4.0x version number in the Red
Hat binary?  The GNU source only uses digits in its numbers.  Have I
stumbled on some rivalry which caused my message to be ignored?  Do
distributors like Red Hat have their own mechanisms for reporting

Jon Hitchcock
Uniplex Ltd, 126 Hempstead Road, Kings Langley, Herts, WD4 8AL
E-mail address@hidden, Tel +44 (0) 1923 299718, Fax 299701

From: address@hidden
Sent: 11 October 2001 16:12
To: address@hidden
Subject: mkdir with closed stdout

If you execute mkdir version 4.0x with stdout closed it creates
the directory, writes an error message to stderr, and exits with
status 1.  POSIX-2 says that the standard output shall not be
written when the utility is used as described by POSIX-2, so it
should not matter whether it is closed or open.

To demonstrate this:

$ mkdir xyz 1>&-
mkdir: write error: Bad file descriptor
$ echo $?
$ rmdir xyz

I discovered this when running a very old program that, for
reasons of portability, creates a directory by forking, closing
stdin, stdout and stderr, execing "mkdir", and testing the exit
status.  It believes that mkdir has failed.

Jan Kasprzak has a patch which claims to address this issue at
but it does not appear to be included in fileutils-4.1.

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