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@c This is part of the Emacs manual.
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@c Copyright (C) 1985-1987, 1993-1995, 1997, 2001-2019 Free Software
@c Foundation, Inc.
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@c See file emacs.texi for copying conditions.
@chapter Dealing with Common Problems

  If you type an Emacs command you did not intend, the results are often
mysterious.  This chapter tells what you can do to cancel your mistake or
recover from a mysterious situation.  Emacs bugs and system crashes are
also considered.
@end iftex

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@end ifnottex

@node Quitting
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@section Quitting and Aborting

@table @kbd
@item C-g
@itemx C-@key{Break} @r{(MS-DOS only)}
Quit: cancel running or partially typed command.
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@item C-]
Abort innermost recursive editing level and cancel the command which
invoked it (@code{abort-recursive-edit}).
@item @key{ESC} @key{ESC} @key{ESC}
Either quit or abort, whichever makes sense (@code{keyboard-escape-quit}).
@item M-x top-level
Abort all recursive editing levels that are currently executing.
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@item C-/
@itemx C-x u
@itemx C-_
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Cancel a previously made change in the buffer contents (@code{undo}).
@end table

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  There are two ways of canceling a command before it has finished:
@dfn{quitting} with @kbd{C-g}, and @dfn{aborting} with @kbd{C-]} or
@kbd{M-x top-level}.  Quitting cancels a partially typed command, or
one which is still running.  Aborting exits a recursive editing level
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and cancels the command that invoked the recursive edit
(@pxref{Recursive Edit}).
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@cindex quitting
@kindex C-g
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  Quitting with @kbd{C-g} is the way to get rid of a partially typed
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command, or a numeric argument that you don't want.  Furthermore, if
you are in the middle of a command that is running, @kbd{C-g} stops
the command in a relatively safe way.  For example, if you quit out of
a kill command that is taking a long time, either your text will
@emph{all} still be in the buffer, or it will @emph{all} be in the
kill ring, or maybe both.  If the region is active, @kbd{C-g}
deactivates the mark, unless Transient Mark mode is off
(@pxref{Disabled Transient Mark}).  If you are in the middle of an
incremental search, @kbd{C-g} behaves specially; it may take two
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successive @kbd{C-g} characters to get out of a search.
@xref{Incremental Search}, for details.
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  On MS-DOS, the character @kbd{C-@key{Break}} serves as a quit character
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like @kbd{C-g}.  The reason is that it is not feasible, on MS-DOS, to
recognize @kbd{C-g} while a command is running, between interactions
with the user.  By contrast, it @emph{is} feasible to recognize
@kbd{C-@key{Break}} at all times.
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@xref{MS-DOS Keyboard,,,emacs-xtra, Specialized Emacs Features}.
@end iftex
@xref{MS-DOS Keyboard}.
@end ifnottex

@findex keyboard-quit
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  @kbd{C-g} works by setting the variable @code{quit-flag} to @code{t}
the instant @kbd{C-g} is typed; Emacs Lisp checks this variable
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frequently, and quits if it is non-@code{nil}.  @kbd{C-g} is only
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actually executed as a command if you type it while Emacs is waiting for
input.  In that case, the command it runs is @code{keyboard-quit}.
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  On a text terminal, if you quit with @kbd{C-g} a second time before
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the first @kbd{C-g} is recognized, you activate the emergency-escape
feature and return to the shell.  @xref{Emergency Escape}.
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@cindex NFS and quitting
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  There are some situations where you cannot quit.  When Emacs is
waiting for the operating system to do something, quitting is
impossible unless special pains are taken for the particular system
call within Emacs where the waiting occurs.  We have done this for the
system calls that users are likely to want to quit from, but it's
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possible you will encounter a case not handled.  In one very common
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case---waiting for file input or output using NFS---Emacs itself knows
how to quit, but many NFS implementations simply do not allow user
programs to stop waiting for NFS when the NFS server is hung.
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@cindex aborting recursive edit
@findex abort-recursive-edit
@kindex C-]
  Aborting with @kbd{C-]} (@code{abort-recursive-edit}) is used to get
out of a recursive editing level and cancel the command which invoked
it.  Quitting with @kbd{C-g} does not do this, and could not do this,
because it is used to cancel a partially typed command @emph{within} the
recursive editing level.  Both operations are useful.  For example, if
you are in a recursive edit and type @kbd{C-u 8} to enter a numeric
argument, you can cancel that argument with @kbd{C-g} and remain in the
recursive edit.

@findex keyboard-escape-quit
@kindex ESC ESC ESC
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  The sequence @kbd{@key{ESC} @key{ESC} @key{ESC}}
(@code{keyboard-escape-quit}) can either quit or abort.  (We defined
it this way because @key{ESC} means ``get out'' in many PC programs.)
It can cancel a prefix argument, clear a selected region, or get out
of a Query Replace, like @kbd{C-g}.  It can get out of the minibuffer
or a recursive edit, like @kbd{C-]}.  It can also get out of splitting
the frame into multiple windows, as with @kbd{C-x 1}.  One thing it
cannot do, however, is stop a command that is running.  That's because
it executes as an ordinary command, and Emacs doesn't notice it until
it is ready for the next command.
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@findex top-level
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  The command @kbd{M-x top-level} is equivalent to enough
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@kbd{C-]} commands to get you out of all the levels of recursive edits
that you are in; it also exits the minibuffer if it is active.
@kbd{C-]} gets you out one level at a time, but @kbd{M-x top-level}
goes out all levels at once.  Both @kbd{C-]} and @kbd{M-x top-level}
are like all other commands, and unlike @kbd{C-g}, in that they take
effect only when Emacs is ready for a command.  @kbd{C-]} is an
ordinary key and has its meaning only because of its binding in the
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keymap.  @xref{Recursive Edit}.

  @kbd{C-/} (@code{undo}) is not strictly speaking a way of canceling
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a command, but you can think of it as canceling a command that already
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finished executing.  @xref{Undo}, for more information about the undo
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@node Lossage
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@section Dealing with Emacs Trouble
@cindex troubleshooting Emacs
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  This section describes how to recognize and deal with situations in
which Emacs does not work as you expect, such as keyboard code mixups,
garbled displays, running out of memory, and crashes and hangs.

  @xref{Bugs}, for what to do when you think you have found a bug in
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* DEL Does Not Delete::   What to do if @key{DEL} doesn't delete.
* Stuck Recursive::       '[...]' in mode line around the parentheses.
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* Screen Garbled::        Garbage on the screen.
* Text Garbled::          Garbage in the text.
* Memory Full::           How to cope when you run out of memory.
* Crashing::              What Emacs does when it crashes.
* After a Crash::         Recovering editing in an Emacs session that crashed.
* Emergency Escape::      What to do if Emacs stops responding.
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@end menu

@node DEL Does Not Delete
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@subsection If @key{DEL} Fails to Delete
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@cindex @key{DEL} vs @key{BACKSPACE}
@cindex @key{BACKSPACE} vs @key{DEL}
@cindex @key{DEL} does not delete

  Every keyboard has a large key, usually labeled @key{BACKSPACE},
which is ordinarily used to erase the last character that you typed.
In Emacs, this key is supposed to be equivalent to @key{DEL}.

  When Emacs starts up on a graphical display, it determines
automatically which key should be @key{DEL}.  In some unusual cases,
Emacs gets the wrong information from the system, and @key{BACKSPACE}
ends up deleting forwards instead of backwards.

  Some keyboards also have a @key{Delete} key, which is ordinarily
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used to delete forwards.  If this key deletes backward in Emacs, that
too suggests Emacs got the wrong information---but in the opposite

  On a text terminal, if you find that @key{BACKSPACE} prompts for a
Help command, like @kbd{Control-h}, instead of deleting a character,
it means that key is actually sending the @samp{BS} character.  Emacs
ought to be treating @key{BS} as @key{DEL}, but it isn't.

@findex normal-erase-is-backspace-mode
  In all of those cases, the immediate remedy is the same: use the
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command @kbd{M-x normal-erase-is-backspace-mode}.  This toggles
between the two modes that Emacs supports for handling @key{DEL}, so
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if Emacs starts in the wrong mode, this should switch to the right
mode.  On a text terminal, if you want to ask for help when @key{BS}
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is treated as @key{DEL}, use @key{F1} instead of @kbd{C-h}; @kbd{C-?}
may also work, if it sends character code 127.

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  To fix the problem in every Emacs session, put one of the following
lines into your initialization file (@pxref{Init File}).  For the
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first case above, where @key{BACKSPACE} deletes forwards instead of
backwards, use this line to make @key{BACKSPACE} act as @key{DEL}:
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(normal-erase-is-backspace-mode 0)
@end lisp

For the other two cases, use this line:
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(normal-erase-is-backspace-mode 1)
@end lisp

@vindex normal-erase-is-backspace
  Another way to fix the problem for every Emacs session is to
customize the variable @code{normal-erase-is-backspace}: the value
@code{t} specifies the mode where @key{BS} or @key{BACKSPACE} is
@key{DEL}, and @code{nil} specifies the other mode.  @xref{Easy
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@node Stuck Recursive
@subsection Recursive Editing Levels
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@cindex stuck in recursive editing
@cindex recursive editing, cannot exit
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  Recursive editing levels are important and useful features of Emacs, but
they can seem like malfunctions if you do not understand them.
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  If the mode line has square brackets @samp{[@dots{}]} around the
parentheses that contain the names of the major and minor modes, you
have entered a recursive editing level.  If you did not do this on
purpose, or if you don't understand what that means, you should just
get out of the recursive editing level.  To do so, type @kbd{M-x
top-level}.  @xref{Recursive Edit}.
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@node Screen Garbled
@subsection Garbage on the Screen
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@cindex garbled display
@cindex display, incorrect
@cindex screen display, wrong
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  If the text on a text terminal looks wrong, the first thing to do is
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see whether it is wrong in the buffer.  Type @kbd{C-l}
(@code{recenter-top-bottom}) to redisplay the entire screen.  If the
screen appears correct after this, the problem was entirely in the
previous screen update.  (Otherwise, see the following section.)
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  Display updating problems often result from an incorrect terminfo
entry for the terminal you are using.  The file @file{etc/TERMS} in
the Emacs distribution gives the fixes for known problems of this
sort.  @file{INSTALL} contains general advice for these problems in
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one of its sections.  If you seem to be using the right terminfo
entry, it is possible that there is a bug in the terminfo entry, or a
bug in Emacs that appears for certain terminal types.
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@node Text Garbled
@subsection Garbage in the Text
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@cindex garbled text
@cindex buffer text garbled
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  If @kbd{C-l} shows that the text is wrong, first type @kbd{C-h l}
(@code{view-lossage}) to see what commands you typed to produce the
observed results.  Then try undoing the changes step by step using
@kbd{C-x u} (@code{undo}), until it gets back to a state you consider
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  If a large portion of text appears to be missing at the beginning or
end of the buffer, check for the word @samp{Narrow} in the mode line.
If it appears, the text you don't see is probably still present, but
temporarily off-limits.  To make it accessible again, type @kbd{C-x n
w} (@code{widen}).  @xref{Narrowing}.
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@node Memory Full
@subsection Running out of Memory
@cindex memory full
@cindex out of memory

  If you get the error message @samp{Virtual memory exceeded}, save
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your modified buffers with @kbd{C-x s} (@code{save-some-buffers}).
This method of saving them has the smallest need for additional
memory.  Emacs keeps a reserve of memory which it makes available when
this error happens; that should be enough to enable @kbd{C-x s} to
complete its work.  When the reserve has been used, @samp{!MEM FULL!}
appears at the beginning of the mode line, indicating there is no more
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  Once you have saved your modified buffers, you can exit this Emacs
session and start another, or you can use @kbd{M-x kill-some-buffers}
to free space in the current Emacs job.  If this frees up sufficient
space, Emacs will refill its memory reserve, and @samp{!MEM FULL!}
will disappear from the mode line.  That means you can safely go on
editing in the same Emacs session.
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  Do not use @kbd{M-x buffer-menu} to save or kill buffers when you run
out of memory, because the Buffer Menu needs a fair amount of memory
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itself, and the reserve supply may not be enough.

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@node Crashing
@subsection When Emacs Crashes

@cindex crash report
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@cindex backtrace
@cindex @file{emacs_backtrace.txt} file, MS-Windows
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  Emacs is not supposed to crash, but if it does, it produces a
@dfn{crash report} prior to exiting.  The crash report is printed to
the standard error stream.  If Emacs was started from a graphical
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desktop on a GNU or Unix system, the standard error stream is commonly
redirected to a file such as @file{~/.xsession-errors}, so you can
look for the crash report there.  On MS-Windows, the crash report is
written to a file named @file{emacs_backtrace.txt} in the current
directory of the Emacs process, in addition to the standard error
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  The format of the crash report depends on the platform.  On some
platforms, such as those using the GNU C Library, the crash report
includes a @dfn{backtrace} describing the execution state prior to
crashing, which can be used to help debug the crash.  Here is an
example for a GNU system:
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Fatal error 11: Segmentation fault
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@end example

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The number @samp{11} is the system signal number corresponding to the
crash---in this case a segmentation fault.  The hexadecimal numbers
are program addresses, which can be associated with source code lines
using a debugging tool.  For example, the GDB command
@samp{list *0x509af6} prints the source-code lines corresponding to
the @samp{emacs[0x509af6]} entry.  If your system has the
@command{addr2line} utility, the following shell command outputs a
backtrace with source-code line numbers:
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sed -n 's/.*\[\(.*\)]$/\1/p' @var{backtrace} |
  addr2line -C -f -i -p -e @var{bindir}/@var{emacs-binary}
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@end example

Here, @var{backtrace} is the name of a text file containing a copy of
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the backtrace, @var{bindir} is the name of the directory that
contains the Emacs executable, and @var{emacs-binary} is the name of
the Emacs executable file, normally @file{emacs} on GNU and Unix
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systems and @file{emacs.exe} on MS-Windows and MS-DOS@.  Omit the
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@option{-p} option if your version of @command{addr2line} is too old
to have it.

@cindex core dump
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  Optionally, Emacs can generate a @dfn{core dump} when it crashes, on
systems that support core files.  A core dump is a file containing
voluminous data about the state of the program prior to the crash,
usually examined by loading it into a debugger such as GDB@.  On many
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platforms, core dumps are disabled by default, and you must explicitly
enable them by running the shell command @samp{ulimit -c unlimited}
(e.g., in your shell startup script).

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@node After a Crash
@subsection Recovery After a Crash
@cindex recovering crashed session
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  If Emacs or the computer crashes, you can recover the files you were
editing at the time of the crash from their auto-save files.  To do
this, start Emacs again and type the command @kbd{M-x recover-session}.

  This command initially displays a buffer which lists interrupted
session files, each with its date.  You must choose which session to
recover from.  Typically the one you want is the most recent one.  Move
point to the one you choose, and type @kbd{C-c C-c}.

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  Then @code{recover-session} considers each of the files that you
were editing during that session; for each such file, it asks whether
to recover that file.  If you answer @kbd{y} for a file, it shows the
dates of that file and its auto-save file, then asks once again
whether to recover that file.  For the second question, you must
confirm with @kbd{yes}.  If you do, Emacs visits the file but gets the
text from the auto-save file.
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  When @code{recover-session} is done, the files you've chosen to
recover are present in Emacs buffers.  You should then save them.  Only
this---saving them---updates the files themselves.

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  As a last resort, if you had buffers with content which were not
associated with any files, or if the autosave was not recent enough to
have recorded important changes, you can use the
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@file{etc/emacs-buffer.gdb} script with GDB (the GNU Debugger) to
retrieve them from a core dump--provided that a core dump was saved,
and that the Emacs executable was not stripped of its debugging

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  As soon as you get the core dump, rename it to another name such as
@file{core.emacs}, so that another crash won't overwrite it.

  To use this script, run @code{gdb} with the file name of your Emacs
executable and the file name of the core dump, e.g., @samp{gdb
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/usr/bin/emacs core.emacs}.  At the @code{(gdb)} prompt, load the
recovery script: @samp{source /usr/src/emacs/etc/emacs-buffer.gdb}.
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Then type the command @code{ybuffer-list} to see which buffers are
available.  For each buffer, it lists a buffer number.  To save a
buffer, use @code{ysave-buffer}; you specify the buffer number, and
the file name to write that buffer into.  You should use a file name
which does not already exist; if the file does exist, the script does
not make a backup of its old contents.

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@node Emergency Escape
@subsection Emergency Escape
@cindex emergency escape
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  On text terminals, the @dfn{emergency escape} feature suspends Emacs
immediately if you type @kbd{C-g} a second time before Emacs can
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actually respond to the first one by quitting.  This is so you can
always get out of GNU Emacs no matter how badly it might be hung.
When things are working properly, Emacs recognizes and handles the
first @kbd{C-g} so fast that the second one won't trigger emergency
escape.  However, if some problem prevents Emacs from handling the
first @kbd{C-g} properly, then the second one will get you back to the
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  When you resume Emacs after a suspension caused by emergency escape,
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it reports the resumption and asks a question or two before going back
to what it had been doing:
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Emacs is resuming after an emergency escape.
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Auto-save? (y or n)
Abort (and dump core)? (y or n)
@end example

Answer each question with @kbd{y} or @kbd{n} followed by @key{RET}.
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  Saying @kbd{y} to @samp{Auto-save?} causes immediate auto-saving of
all modified buffers in which auto-saving is enabled.  Saying @kbd{n}
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skips this.  This question is omitted if Emacs is in a state where
auto-saving cannot be done safely.
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  Saying @kbd{y} to @samp{Abort (and dump core)?} causes Emacs to
crash, dumping core.  This is to enable a wizard to figure out why
Emacs was failing to quit in the first place.  Execution does not
continue after a core dump.
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  If you answer this question @kbd{n}, Emacs execution resumes.  With
luck, Emacs will ultimately do the requested quit.  If not, each
subsequent @kbd{C-g} invokes emergency escape again.
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  If Emacs is not really hung, just slow, you may invoke the double
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@kbd{C-g} feature without really meaning to.  Then just resume and
answer @kbd{n} to both questions, and you will get back to the former
state.  The quit you requested will happen by and by.
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  Emergency escape is active only for text terminals.  On graphical
displays, you can use the mouse to kill Emacs or switch to another
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  On MS-DOS, you must type @kbd{C-@key{Break}} (twice) to cause
emergency escape---but there are cases where it won't work, when a
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system call hangs or when Emacs is stuck in a tight loop in C code.
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@node Bugs
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@section Reporting Bugs

@cindex bugs
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  If you think you have found a bug in Emacs, please report it.  We
cannot promise to fix it, or always to agree that it is a bug, but we
certainly want to hear about it.  The same applies for new features
you would like to see added.  The following sections will help you to
construct an effective bug report.

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* Known Problems::               How to read about known problems and bugs.
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* Criteria:  Bug Criteria.       Have you really found a bug?
* Understanding Bug Reporting::  How to report a bug effectively.
* Checklist::                    Steps to follow for a good bug report.
* Sending Patches::              How to send a patch for GNU Emacs.
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@end menu

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@node Known Problems
@subsection Reading Existing Bug Reports and Known Problems

  Before reporting a bug, if at all possible please check to see if it
is already known about.  Indeed, it may already have been fixed in a
later release of Emacs, or in the development version.  Here is a list
of the main places you can read about known issues:

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The @file{etc/PROBLEMS} file; type @kbd{C-h C-p} to read it.  This
file contains a list of particularly well-known issues that have been
encountered in compiling, installing and running Emacs.  Often, there
are suggestions for workarounds and solutions.

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@cindex bug tracker
The GNU Bug Tracker at @url{}.  Emacs bugs are
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filed in the tracker under the @samp{emacs} package.  The tracker
records information about the status of each bug, the initial bug
report, and the follow-up messages by the bug reporter and Emacs
developers.  You can search for bugs by subject, severity, and other

@cindex debbugs package
Instead of browsing the bug tracker as a webpage, you can browse it
from Emacs using the @code{debbugs} package, which can be downloaded
via the Package Menu (@pxref{Packages}).  This package provides the
command @kbd{M-x debbugs-gnu} to list bugs, and @kbd{M-x
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debbugs-gnu-search} to search for a specific bug.  User tags, applied
by the Emacs maintainers, are shown by @kbd{M-x debbugs-gnu-usertags}.

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The @samp{bug-gnu-emacs} mailing list (also available as the newsgroup
@samp{gnu.emacs.bug}).  You can read the list archives at
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@url{}.  This list
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works as a mirror of the Emacs bug reports and follow-up messages
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which are sent to the bug tracker.  It also contains old bug reports
from before the bug tracker was introduced (in early 2008).

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If you like, you can subscribe to the list.  Be aware that its purpose
is to provide the Emacs maintainers with information about bugs and
feature requests, so reports may contain fairly large amounts of data;
spectators should not complain about this.
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The @samp{emacs-pretest-bug} mailing list.  This list is no longer
used, and is mainly of historical interest.  At one time, it was used
for bug reports in development (i.e., not yet released) versions of
Emacs.  You can read the archives for 2003 to mid 2007 at
@url{}.  Nowadays,
it is an alias for @samp{bug-gnu-emacs}.
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The @samp{emacs-devel} mailing list.  Sometimes people report bugs to
this mailing list.  This is not the main purpose of the list, however,
and it is much better to send bug reports to the bug list.  You should
not feel obliged to read this list before reporting a bug.

@end itemize

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@node Bug Criteria
@subsection When Is There a Bug
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@cindex bug criteria
@cindex what constitutes an Emacs bug
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  If Emacs accesses an invalid memory location (a.k.a.@:
``segmentation fault'') or exits with an operating system error
message that indicates a problem in the program (as opposed to
something like ``disk full''), then it is certainly a bug.
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  If the Emacs display does not correspond properly to the contents of
the buffer, then it is a bug.  But you should check that features like
buffer narrowing (@pxref{Narrowing}), which can hide parts of the
buffer or change how it is displayed, are not responsible.
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  Taking forever to complete a command can be a bug, but you must make
sure that it is really Emacs's fault.  Some commands simply take a
long time.  Type @kbd{C-g} (@kbd{C-@key{Break}} on MS-DOS) and then
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@kbd{C-h l} to see whether the input Emacs received was what you
intended to type; if the input was such that you @emph{know} it should
have been processed quickly, report a bug.  If you don't know whether
the command should take a long time, find out by looking in the manual
or by asking for assistance.
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  If a command you are familiar with causes an Emacs error message in a
case where its usual definition ought to be reasonable, it is probably a

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  If a command does the wrong thing, that is a bug.  But be sure you
know for certain what it ought to have done.  If you aren't familiar
with the command, it might actually be working right.  If in doubt,
read the command's documentation (@pxref{Name Help}).
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  A command's intended definition may not be the best possible
definition for editing with.  This is a very important sort of
problem, but it is also a matter of judgment.  Also, it is easy to
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come to such a conclusion out of ignorance of some of the existing
features.  It is probably best not to complain about such a problem
until you have checked the documentation in the usual ways, feel
confident that you understand it, and know for certain that what you
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want is not available.  Ask other Emacs users, too.  If you are not
sure what the command is supposed to do after a careful reading of the
manual, check the index and glossary for any terms that may be
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  If after careful rereading of the manual you still do not understand
what the command should do, that indicates a bug in the manual, which
you should report.  The manual's job is to make everything clear to
people who are not Emacs experts---including you.  It is just as
important to report documentation bugs as program bugs.

  If the built-in documentation for a function or variable disagrees
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with the manual, one of them must be wrong; that is a bug.

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  For problems with packages that are not part of Emacs, it is better
to begin by reporting them to the package developers.

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@node Understanding Bug Reporting
@subsection Understanding Bug Reporting
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@cindex bug reporting
@cindex report an Emacs bug, how to
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  When you decide that there is a bug, it is important to report it
and to report it in a way which is useful.  What is most useful is an
exact description of what commands you type, starting with the shell
command to run Emacs, until the problem happens.
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  The most important principle in reporting a bug is to report
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@emph{facts}.  Hypotheses and verbal descriptions are no substitute
for the detailed raw data.  Reporting the facts is straightforward,
but many people strain to posit explanations and report them instead
of the facts.  If the explanations are based on guesses about how
Emacs is implemented, they will be useless; meanwhile, lacking the
facts, we will have no real information about the bug.  If you want to
actually @emph{debug} the problem, and report explanations that are
more than guesses, that is useful---but please include the raw facts
as well.
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  For example, suppose that you type @kbd{C-x C-f /glorp/baz.ugh
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@key{RET}}, visiting a file which (you know) happens to be rather
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large, and Emacs displays @samp{I feel pretty today}.  The bug report
would need to provide all that information.  You should not assume
that the problem is due to the size of the file and say, ``I visited a
large file, and Emacs displayed @samp{I feel pretty today}.''  This is
what we mean by ``guessing explanations''.  The problem might be due
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to the fact that there is a @samp{z} in the file name.  If this is so,
then when we got your report, we would try out the problem with some
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large file, probably with no @samp{z} in its name, and not see any
problem.  There is no way we could guess that we should try visiting a
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file with a @samp{z} in its name.

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  You should not even say ``visit a file'' instead of @kbd{C-x C-f}.
Similarly, rather than saying ``if I have three characters on the
line'', say ``after I type @kbd{@key{RET} A B C @key{RET} C-p}'', if
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that is the way you entered the text.

  If possible, try quickly to reproduce the bug by invoking Emacs with
@command{emacs -Q} (so that Emacs starts with no initial
customizations; @pxref{Initial Options}), and repeating the steps that
you took to trigger the bug.  If you can reproduce the bug this way,
that rules out bugs in your personal customizations.  Then your bug
report should begin by stating that you started Emacs with
@command{emacs -Q}, followed by the exact sequence of steps for
reproducing the bug.  If possible, inform us of the exact contents of
any file that is needed to reproduce the bug.

  Some bugs are not reproducible from @command{emacs -Q}; some are not
easily reproducible at all.  In that case, you should report what you
have---but, as before, please stick to the raw facts about what you
did to trigger the bug the first time.
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  If you have multiple issues that you want to report, please make a
separate bug report for each.

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@node Checklist
@subsection Checklist for Bug Reports
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@cindex checklist before reporting a bug
@cindex bug reporting, checklist
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  Before reporting a bug, first try to see if the problem has already
been reported (@pxref{Known Problems}).

If you are able to, try the latest release of Emacs to see if the
problem has already been fixed.  Even better is to try the latest
development version.  We recognize that this is not easy for some
people, so do not feel that you absolutely must do this before making
a report.
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@findex report-emacs-bug
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  The best way to write a bug report for Emacs is to use the command
@kbd{M-x report-emacs-bug}.  This sets up a mail buffer
(@pxref{Sending Mail}) and automatically inserts @emph{some} of the
essential information.  However, it cannot supply all the necessary
information; you should still read and follow the guidelines below, so
you can enter the other crucial information by hand before you send
the message.  You may feel that some of the information inserted by
@kbd{M-x report-emacs-bug} is not relevant, but unless you are
absolutely sure it is best to leave it, so that the developers can
decide for themselves.

When you have finished writing your report, type @kbd{C-c C-c} and it
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will be sent to the Emacs maintainers at
@end ifnothtml
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@url{, bug-gnu-emacs}.
@end ifhtml
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(If you want to suggest an improvement or new feature, use the same
address.)  If you cannot send mail from inside Emacs, you can copy the
text of your report to your normal mail client (if your system
supports it, you can type @kbd{C-c M-i} to have Emacs do this for you)
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and send it to that address.  Or you can simply send an email to that
address describing the problem.
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Your report will be sent to the @samp{bug-gnu-emacs} mailing list, and
stored in the GNU Bug Tracker at @url{}.  Please
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include a valid reply email address, in case we need to ask you for
more information about your report.  Submissions are moderated, so
there may be a delay before your report appears.

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You do not need to know how the GNU Bug Tracker works in order to
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report a bug, but if you want to, you can read the tracker's online
documentation to see the various features you can use.
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All mail sent to the @samp{bug-gnu-emacs} mailing list is also
gatewayed to the @samp{gnu.emacs.bug} newsgroup.  The reverse is also
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true, but we ask you not to post bug reports (or replies) via the
newsgroup.  It can make it much harder to contact you if we need to ask
for more information, and it does not integrate well with the bug
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If your data is more than 500,000 bytes, please don't include it
directly in the bug report; instead, offer to send it on request, or
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make it available online and say where.

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The GNU Bug Tracker will assign a bug number to your report; please
use it in the following discussions.
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  To enable maintainers to investigate a bug, your report
should include all these things:

@itemize @bullet
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The version number of Emacs.  Without this, we won't know whether there is any
point in looking for the bug in the current version of GNU Emacs.
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@findex emacs-version
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@kbd{M-x report-emacs-bug} includes this information automatically,
but if you are not using that command for your report you can get the
version number by typing @kbd{M-x emacs-version @key{RET}}.  If that
command does not work, you probably have something other than GNU
Emacs, so you will have to report the bug somewhere else.
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The type of machine you are using, and the operating system name and
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version number (again, automatically included by @kbd{M-x
report-emacs-bug}).  @kbd{M-x emacs-version @key{RET}} provides this
information too.  Copy its output from the @file{*Messages*} buffer,
so that you get it all and get it accurately.
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The operands given to the @code{configure} command when Emacs was
installed (automatically included by @kbd{M-x report-emacs-bug}).
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A complete list of any modifications you have made to the Emacs source.
(We may not have time to investigate the bug unless it happens in an
unmodified Emacs.  But if you've made modifications and you don't tell
us, you are sending us on a wild goose chase.)

Be precise about these changes.  A description in English is not
enough---send a unified context diff for them.
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Adding files of your own, or porting to another machine, is a
modification of the source.

Details of any other deviations from the standard procedure for installing
GNU Emacs.

The complete text of any files needed to reproduce the bug.

  If you can tell us a way to cause the problem without visiting any files,
please do so.  This makes it much easier to debug.  If you do need files,
make sure you arrange for us to see their exact contents.  For example, it
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can matter whether there are spaces at the ends of lines, or a
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newline after the last line in the buffer (nothing ought to care whether
the last line is terminated, but try telling the bugs that).

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The precise commands we need to type to reproduce the bug.  If at all
possible, give a full recipe for an Emacs started with the @samp{-Q}
option (@pxref{Initial Options}).  This bypasses your personal
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@findex open-dribble-file
@cindex dribble file
@cindex logging keystrokes
One way to record the input to Emacs precisely is to write a dribble
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file.  To start the file, use the @kbd{M-x open-dribble-file} command.
From then on, Emacs copies all your input to the specified dribble
file until the Emacs process is killed.  Be aware that sensitive
information (such as passwords) may end up recorded in the dribble
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@findex open-termscript
@cindex termscript file
@vindex TERM@r{, environment variable, and display bugs}
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For possible display bugs on text-mode terminals, the terminal type
(the value of environment variable @env{TERM}), the complete termcap
entry for the terminal from @file{/etc/termcap} (since that file is
not identical on all machines), and the output that Emacs actually
sent to the terminal.
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The way to collect the terminal output is to execute the Lisp expression

(open-termscript "~/termscript")
@end example

using @kbd{M-:} or from the @file{*scratch*} buffer just after
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starting Emacs.  From then on, Emacs copies all terminal output to the
specified termscript file as well, until the Emacs process is killed.
If the problem happens when Emacs starts up, put this expression into
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your Emacs initialization file so that the termscript file will be
open when Emacs displays the screen for the first time.
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Be warned: it is often difficult, and sometimes impossible, to fix a
terminal-dependent bug without access to a terminal of the type that
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stimulates the bug.
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If non-@acronym{ASCII} text or internationalization is relevant, the locale that
was current when you started Emacs.  On GNU/Linux and Unix systems, or
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if you use a POSIX-style shell such as Bash, you can use this shell
command to view the relevant values:

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@end smallexample

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Alternatively, use the @command{locale} command, if your system has it,
to display your locale settings.

You can use the @kbd{M-!} command to execute these commands from
Emacs, and then copy the output from the @file{*Messages*} buffer into
the bug report.  Alternatively, @kbd{M-x getenv @key{RET} LC_ALL
@key{RET}} will display the value of @code{LC_ALL} in the echo area, and
you can copy its output from the @file{*Messages*} buffer.

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A description of what behavior you observe that you believe is
incorrect.  For example, ``The Emacs process gets a fatal signal'', or,
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``The resulting text is as follows, which I think is wrong.''

Of course, if the bug is that Emacs gets a fatal signal, then one can't
miss it.  But if the bug is incorrect text, the maintainer might fail to
notice what is wrong.  Why leave it to chance?

Even if the problem you experience is a fatal signal, you should still
say so explicitly.  Suppose something strange is going on, such as, your
copy of the source is out of sync, or you have encountered a bug in the
C library on your system.  (This has happened!)  Your copy might crash
and the copy here might not.  If you @emph{said} to expect a crash, then
when Emacs here fails to crash, we would know that the bug was not
happening.  If you don't say to expect a crash, then we would not know
whether the bug was happening---we would not be able to draw any
conclusion from our observations.

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If the bug is that the Emacs Manual or the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual
fails to describe the actual behavior of Emacs, or that the text is
confusing, copy in the text from the manual which you think is
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at fault.  If the section is small, just the section name is enough.

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If the manifestation of the bug is an Emacs error message, it is
important to report the precise text of the error message, and a
backtrace showing how the Lisp program in Emacs arrived at the error.

To get the error message text accurately, copy it from the
@file{*Messages*} buffer into the bug report.  Copy all of it, not just
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@findex toggle-debug-on-error
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@pindex Edebug
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To make a backtrace for the error, use @kbd{M-x toggle-debug-on-error}
before the error happens (that is to say, you must give that command
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and then make the bug happen).  This causes the error to start the Lisp
debugger, which shows you a backtrace.  Copy the text of the
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debugger's backtrace into the bug report.  @xref{Edebug,, Edebug,
elisp, the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual}, for information on debugging
Emacs Lisp programs with the Edebug package.
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This use of the debugger is possible only if you know how to make the
bug happen again.  If you can't make it happen again, at least copy
the whole error message.

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@vindex debug-on-quit
If Emacs appears to be stuck in an infinite loop or in a very long
operation, typing @kbd{C-g} with the variable @code{debug-on-quit}
non-@code{nil} will start the Lisp debugger and show a backtrace.
This backtrace is useful for debugging such long loops, so if you can
produce it, copy it into the bug report.

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@vindex debug-on-event
If you cannot get Emacs to respond to @kbd{C-g} (e.g., because
@code{inhibit-quit} is set), then you can try sending the signal
specified by @code{debug-on-event} (default SIGUSR2) from outside
Emacs to cause it to enter the debugger.

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Check whether any programs you have loaded into the Lisp world,
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including your initialization file, set any variables that may affect
the functioning of Emacs.  Also, see whether the problem happens in a
freshly started Emacs without loading your initialization file (start
Emacs with the @code{-Q} switch to prevent loading the init files).
If the problem does @emph{not} occur then, you must report the precise
contents of any programs that you must load into the Lisp world in
order to cause the problem to occur.
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If the problem does depend on an init file or other Lisp programs that
are not part of the standard Emacs system, then you should make sure it
is not a bug in those programs by complaining to their maintainers
first.  After they verify that they are using Emacs in a way that is
supposed to work, they should report the bug.

If you wish to mention something in the GNU Emacs source, show the line
of code with a few lines of context.  Don't just give a line number.

The line numbers in the development sources don't match those in your
sources.  It would take extra work for the maintainers to determine what
code is in your version at a given line number, and we could not be

Additional information from a C debugger such as GDB might enable
someone to find a problem on a machine which he does not have available.
If you don't know how to use GDB, please read the GDB manual---it is not
very long, and using GDB is easy.  You can find the GDB distribution,
including the GDB manual in online form, in most of the same places you
can find the Emacs distribution.  To run Emacs under GDB, you should
switch to the @file{src} subdirectory in which Emacs was compiled, then
do @samp{gdb emacs}.  It is important for the directory @file{src} to be
current so that GDB will read the @file{.gdbinit} file in this

However, you need to think when you collect the additional information
if you want it to show what causes the bug.

@cindex backtrace for bug reports
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For example, many people send just a C-level backtrace, but that is
not very useful by itself.  A simple backtrace with arguments often
conveys little about what is happening inside GNU Emacs, because most
of the arguments listed in the backtrace are pointers to Lisp objects.
The numeric values of these pointers have no significance whatever;
all that matters is the contents of the objects they point to (and
most of the contents are themselves pointers).
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@findex debug_print
To provide useful information, you need to show the values of Lisp
objects in Lisp notation.  Do this for each variable which is a Lisp
object, in several stack frames near the bottom of the stack.  Look at
the source to see which variables are Lisp objects, because the debugger
thinks of them as integers.

To show a variable's value in Lisp syntax, first print its value, then
use the user-defined GDB command @code{pr} to print the Lisp object in
Lisp syntax.  (If you must use another debugger, call the function
@code{debug_print} with the object as an argument.)  The @code{pr}
command is defined by the file @file{.gdbinit}, and it works only if you
are debugging a running process (not with a core dump).

To make Lisp errors stop Emacs and return to GDB, put a breakpoint at

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For a short listing of Lisp functions running, type the GDB
command @code{xbacktrace}.
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The file @file{.gdbinit} defines several other commands that are useful
for examining the data types and contents of Lisp objects.  Their names
begin with @samp{x}.  These commands work at a lower level than
@code{pr}, and are less convenient, but they may work even when
@code{pr} does not, such as when debugging a core dump or when Emacs has
had a fatal signal.

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@cindex debugging Emacs, tricks and techniques
More detailed advice and other useful techniques for debugging Emacs
are available in the file @file{etc/DEBUG} in the Emacs distribution.
That file also includes instructions for investigating problems
whereby Emacs stops responding (many people assume that Emacs is
``hung'', whereas in fact it might be in an infinite loop).

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To find the file @file{etc/DEBUG} in your Emacs installation, use the
directory name stored in the variable @code{data-directory}.
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@end itemize

Here are some things that are not necessary in a bug report:

@itemize @bullet
A description of the envelope of the bug---this is not necessary for a
reproducible bug.

Often people who encounter a bug spend a lot of time investigating
which changes to the input file will make the bug go away and which
changes will not affect it.

This is often time-consuming and not very useful, because the way we
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will find the bug is by running a single example under the debugger
with breakpoints, not by pure deduction from a series of examples.
You might as well save time by not searching for additional examples.
It is better to send the bug report right away, go back to editing,
and find another bug to report.
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Of course, if you can find a simpler example to report @emph{instead} of
the original one, that is a convenience.  Errors in the output will be
easier to spot, running under the debugger will take less time, etc.

However, simplification is not vital; if you can't do this or don't have
time to try, please report the bug with your original test case.

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A core dump file.

Debugging the core dump might be useful, but it can only be done on
your machine, with your Emacs executable.  Therefore, sending the core
dump file to the Emacs maintainers won't be useful.  Above all, don't
include the core file in an email bug report!  Such a large message
can be extremely inconvenient.

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A system-call trace of Emacs execution.

System-call traces are very useful for certain special kinds of
debugging, but in most cases they give little useful information.  It is
therefore strange that many people seem to think that @emph{the} way to
report information about a crash is to send a system-call trace.  Perhaps
this is a habit formed from experience debugging programs that don't
have source code or debugging symbols.

In most programs, a backtrace is normally far, far more informative than
a system-call trace.  Even in Emacs, a simple backtrace is generally
more informative, though to give full information you should supplement
the backtrace by displaying variable values and printing them as Lisp
objects with @code{pr} (see above).

A patch for the bug.

A patch for the bug is useful if it is a good one.  But don't omit the
other information that a bug report needs, such as the test case, on the
assumption that a patch is sufficient.  We might see problems with your
patch and decide to fix the problem another way, or we might not
understand it at all.  And if we can't understand what bug you are
trying to fix, or why your patch should be an improvement, we mustn't
install it.

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@xref{Sending Patches}, for guidelines on how to make it easy for us to
understand and install your patches.
@end ifnottex
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A guess about what the bug is or what it depends on.

Such guesses are usually wrong.  Even experts can't guess right about
such things without first using the debugger to find the facts.
@end itemize

@node Sending Patches
@subsection Sending Patches for GNU Emacs

@cindex sending patches for GNU Emacs
@cindex patches, sending
  If you would like to write bug fixes or improvements for GNU Emacs,
that is very helpful.  When you send your changes, please follow these
guidelines to make it easy for the maintainers to use them.  If you
don't follow these guidelines, your information might still be useful,
but using it will take extra work.  Maintaining GNU Emacs is a lot of
work in the best of circumstances, and we can't keep up unless you do
your best to help.

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Every patch must have several pieces of information before we
can properly evaluate it.

When you have all these pieces, bundle them up in a mail message and
send it to the developers.  Sending it to
@email{} (which is the bug/feature list) is
recommended, because that list is coupled to a tracking system that
makes it easier to locate patches.  If your patch is not complete and
you think it needs more discussion, you might want to send it to
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@email{} instead.  If you revise your patch,
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send it as a followup to the initial topic.

We prefer to get the patches as plain text, either inline (be careful
your mail client does not change line breaks) or as MIME attachments.

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@itemize @bullet
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Include an explanation with your changes of what problem they fix or what
improvement they bring about.

For a fix for an existing bug, it is
best to reply to the relevant discussion on the @samp{bug-gnu-emacs}
list, or the bug entry in the GNU Bug Tracker at
@url{}.  Explain why your change fixes the bug.
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For a new feature, include a description of the feature and your

For a new bug, include a proper bug report for the problem you think
you have fixed.  We need to convince ourselves that the change is
right before installing it.  Even if it is correct, we might have
trouble understanding it if we don't have a way to reproduce the
@end itemize
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Include all the comments that are appropriate to help people reading the
source in the future understand why this change was needed.

Don't mix together changes made for different reasons.
Send them @emph{individually}.

If you make two changes for separate reasons, then we might not want to
install them both.  We might want to install just one.  If you send them
all jumbled together in a single set of diffs, we have to do extra work
to disentangle them---to figure out which parts of the change serve
which purpose.  If we don't have time for this, we might have to ignore
your changes entirely.

If you send each change as soon as you have written it, with its own
explanation, then two changes never get tangled up, and we can consider
each one properly without any extra work to disentangle them.

Send each change as soon as that change is finished.  Sometimes people
think they are helping us by accumulating many changes to send them all
together.  As explained above, this is absolutely the worst thing you
could do.

Since you should send each change separately, you might as well send it
right away.  That gives us the option of installing it immediately if it
is important.

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The patch itself.

Use @samp{diff -u} to make your diffs.  Diffs without context are hard
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to install reliably.  More than that, they are hard to study; we must
always study a patch to decide whether we want to install it.  Context
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format is better than contextless diffs, but we prefer the unified
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If you have GNU diff, use @samp{diff -u -F'^[_a-zA-Z0-9$]\+ *('} when
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making diffs of C code.  This shows the name of the function that each
change occurs in.

If you are using the Emacs repository, make sure your copy is
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up-to-date (e.g., with @code{git pull}).  You can commit your changes
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to a private branch and generate a patch from the master version by
using @code{git format-patch master}. Or you can leave your changes
uncommitted and use @code{git diff}.

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Avoid any ambiguity as to which is the old version and which is the new.
Please make the old version the first argument to diff, and the new
version the second argument.  And please give one version or the other a
name that indicates whether it is the old version or your new changed

Write the commit log entries for your changes.  This is both to save us
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the extra work of writing them, and to help explain your changes so we
can understand them.

The purpose of the commit log is to show people where to find what was
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changed.  So you need to be specific about what functions you changed;
in large functions, it's often helpful to indicate where within the
function the change was.

On the other hand, once you have shown people where to find the change,
you need not explain its purpose in the change log.  Thus, if you add a
new function, all you need to say about it is that it is new.  If you
feel that the purpose needs explaining, it probably does---but put the
explanation in comments in the code.  It will be more useful there.

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Please look at the commit log entries of recent commits to see what
sorts of information to put in, and to learn the style that we use.
Note that, unlike some other projects, we do require commit logs for
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documentation, i.e., Texinfo files.
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@xref{Change Log},
@ifset WWW_GNU_ORG
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