bug.report {utils}R Documentation

Send a Bug Report


Invokes an editor to write a bug report and optionally mail it to the automated r-bugs repository at r-bugs@r-project.org. Some standard information on the current version and configuration of R are included automatically.


bug.report(subject = "",
           ccaddress = Sys.getenv("USER"),
           method = getOption("mailer"),
           address = "r-bugs@r-project.org",
           file = "R.bug.report")


subject Subject of the email. Please do not use single quotes (') in the subject! File separate bug reports for multiple bugs
ccaddress Optional email address for copies (default is current user). Use ccaddress = FALSE for no copies.
method Submission method, one of "mailx", "gnudoit", "none", or "ess".
address Recipient's email address.
file File to use for setting up the email (or storing it when method is "none" or sending mail fails).


Currently direct submission of bug reports works only on Unix systems. If the submission method is "mailx", then the default editor is used to write the bug report. Which editor is used can be controlled using options, type getOption("editor") to see what editor is currently defined. Please use the help pages of the respective editor for details of usage. After saving the bug report (in the temporary file opened) and exiting the editor the report is mailed using a Unix command line mail utility such as mailx. A copy of the mail is sent to the current user.

If method is "gnudoit", then an emacs mail buffer is opened and used for sending the email.

If method is "none" or NULL (and in every case on Windows systems), then only an editor is opened to help writing the bug report. The report can then be copied to your favorite email program and be sent to the r-bugs list.

If method is "ess" the body of the mail is simply sent to stdout.


Nothing useful.

When is there a bug?

If R executes an illegal instruction, or dies 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.

Taking forever to complete a command can be a bug, but you must make certain that it was really R's fault. Some commands simply take a long time. If the input was such that you 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.

If a command you are familiar with causes an R error message in a case where its usual definition ought to be reasonable, it is probably a bug. 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, or don't know for certain how the command is supposed to work, then it might actually be working right. Rather than jumping to conclusions, show the problem to someone who knows for certain.

Finally, a command's intended definition may not be best for statistical analysis. This is a very important sort of problem, but it is also a matter of judgement. Also, it is easy to 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 want is not available. The mailing list r-devel@r-project.org is a better place for discussions of this sort than the bug list.

If you are not sure what the command is supposed to do after a careful reading of the manual this indicates a bug in the manual. The manual's job is to make everything clear. It is just as important to report documentation bugs as program bugs.

If the online argument list of a function disagrees with the manual, one of them must be wrong, so report the bug.

How to report a bug

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, from when you start R until the problem happens. Always include the version of R, machine, and operating system that you are using; type version in R to print this. To help us keep track of which bugs have been fixed and which are still open please send a separate report for each bug.

The most important principle in reporting a bug is to report FACTS, not hypotheses or categorizations. It is always easier to report the facts, but people seem to prefer to strain to posit explanations and report them instead. If the explanations are based on guesses about how R is implemented, they will be useless; we will have to try to figure out what the facts must have been to lead to such speculations. Sometimes this is impossible. But in any case, it is unnecessary work for us.

For example, suppose that on a data set which you know to be quite large the command data.frame(x, y, z, monday, tuesday) never returns. Do not report that data.frame() fails for large data sets. Perhaps it fails when a variable name is a day of the week. If this is so then when we got your report we would try out the data.frame() command on a large data set, probably with no day of the week variable name, and not see any problem. There is no way in the world that we could guess that we should try a day of the week variable name.

Or perhaps the command fails because the last command you used was a [ method that had a bug causing R's internal data structures to be corrupted and making the data.frame() command fail from then on. This is why we need to know what other commands you have typed (or read from your startup file).

It is very useful to try and find simple examples that produce apparently the same bug, and somewhat useful to find simple examples that might be expected to produce the bug but actually do not. If you want to debug the problem and find exactly what caused it, that is wonderful. You should still report the facts as well as any explanations or solutions.

Invoking R with the --vanilla option may help in isolating a bug. This ensures that the site profile and saved data files are not read.

A bug report can be generated using the bug.report() function. This automatically includes the version information and sends the bug to the correct address. Alternatively the bug report can be emailed to r-bugs@r-project.org or submitted to the Web page at http://bugs.r-project.org.

Bug reports on contributed packages should be sent to the package maintainer rather than to r-bugs.


This help page is adapted from the Emacs manual and the R FAQ

See Also

R FAQ, also sessionInfo() from which you may add to the bug report.

[Package utils version 2.5.0 Index]