Subject: Re: gdb
From: "Joel N. Weber II" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 18:36:20 -0500 (EST)

   Disproof: my girlfriend was using my laptop yesterday and today and
   somehow she locked up the keyboard under X on linux.  The mouse worked
   but the keyboard did not.  These same symptoms happened twice in a
   row, and they have never happened to me.  I conclude that she is
   pressing keys in some manner I am not.  What is the probability I'm
   ever going to get this one fixed?

I'm pretty certain that the probablity that you will get this fixed is
higher with free software than with proprietary software.

I happen to have some slightly bad RAM in my computer.  gcc will sometimes
randomly segfault.  If I run some other programs enough, and run gcc again
with the same commands and input, it will work fine.  It is impossible that
I could convince a beaurocratic company that they need to replace the RAM
under warranty.  But I know the problem is there.  I will probably buy new
RAM for my computer at some point to fix it.

I bet that even if you do figure out what key sequence causes the crash,
some phone tech support person would nave money by not fixing the problem.
And it may well be some wierd keycode that a normal desktop machine's
keyboard will never generate it, so they have a hard time reproducing the

If you are technically competent to fix the problem, and you think it's
worth spending the time to fix it (I would guess I could fix it in a week
of full time work, but I could easily be way off in that guess), then you
can fix it.  But it's a small problem, and fixing it is a lot more difficult
than working around it.

I actually did change the source to a POP client to work around a bug in
it.  I think it took about two hours.  I ended up increasing an arbitrary
limit that was a #define; the problem was that a microsoft mail program was
generating lines longer than about 80 characters, which I believe violates
the SMTP protocol.