GNATS 4.0.1 review

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GNU GNATS is a set of tools for tracking bugs reported by users to a central site

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 1443K
Developer: Yngve Svendsen
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GNU GNATS is a set of tools for tracking bugs reported by users to a central site. It allows problem report management and communication with users via various means. GNATS stores all the information about problem reports in its databases and provides tools for querying, editing, and maintenance of the databases.

Thanks to its architecture, GNATS is not bound to a single user interface – it can be used via command line, e-mail, Emacs, or a network daemon, usually used with a Web interface. Together with the fact that all GNATS databases and configuration can be stored in plain text files, it allows easy use and provides good flexibility. Basically, if the GNATS tools do not provide everything you need, you can add your own additional utilities using standard GNU tools.

GNATS 4.0 was the first official release to incorporate major advances including multiple database support, customized fields and comprehensive WWW and Tk based front-ends. These features were first seen in the 4.0 beta releases

Several third-party interfaces and other tools that work with GNATS have been contributed, the most actively developed are Gnatsweb, a web-based interface, and TkGnats, a Tcl/Tk-based interface for UNIX/Linux and Windows, which can be found in the contrib subdirectory of the GNATS distribution. Releases of these tools aren't necessarily synchronized with GNATS releases, see the section on downloading below for details on how to get the newest version.


There are several steps you need to follow to fully configure and install GNATS on your system. You need root access in order to create a new account for gnats and to install the GNATS utilities. You may need root access on some systems in order to set up mail aliases and to allow this new account access to cron and at.

If you are updating an older version of GNATS rather than installing from scratch, see Upgrading from older versions.

GNATS installation relies on two other freely available software packages, which should be installed before you go on to configure and build GNATS. These are GNU make and Texinfo (version 4.2 or higher).

To build and install GNATS, you must:

Run configure, with correct options if the defaults are unsuitable for your site. See Configuring and compiling the software. Default installation locations are in Where GNATS lives.
Compile the GNATS programs on your system. See Configuring and compiling the software.
Create an initial database by using the mkdb command. See Setting up the default database.
Set up periodic jobs, using cron, to handle Problem Reports arriving by mail. See Setting up periodic jobs.
Set up mail aliases for GNATS. See Setting up mail aliases.
Install the GNATS tools and utilities locally, and install the user tools (query-pr, edit-pr, send-pr) on every machine in your local network. See Installing the user tools.
Install the GNATS daemon gnatsd. See Installing the daemon.
If there are people outside your organization who will be submitting PRs or who are supposed to be able to query and/or edit PRs, you may need to instruct them to obtain and build the GNATS tools query-pr, edit-pr and send-pr for their systems. However, for many sites, setting up a remote access interface to GNATS, such as Gnatsweb is a better solution since this requires no configuration on the remote side.

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