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How to Get Help with GNU Software

 [image of the Head of a GNU]

The Free Software Foundation does not provide technical support. Our mission is developing, preserving, and protecting free software. We leave it to others to earn a living providing support. We see programmers as providing a service, much as doctors and lawyers do now; both medical and legal knowledge are freely redistributable, but their practitioners charge for service. So please do not email us or call the FSF Office for technical support.

You can obtain the Documentation for the GNU Project through various methods, which should answer many of your questions.

We do host a number of mailing lists for GNU software. The mailing lists that begin with help- are lists for getting help from the community. A hand-made list of GNU mailing list is also available. If you can't find a mailing list for a particular GNU program, then please use <> mailing list.

The GNU Service Directory (58k characters) is a list of people who offer support and other consulting services. It is also in the file `etc/SERVICE' in the GNU Emacs distribution, and `/pub/gnu/GNUinfo/SERVICE' on a GNU FTP host. Contact us to get a copy or to be listed in it.

If you find a deficiency in any GNU software, we want to know. Thus, we also maintain mailing lists for bugs in GNU software. Even if a mailing list is not listed, typically the address <> will reach the right place for bug reporting (via an alias). So, if you find a bug in the canonical version of a GNU program, please try reporting it that way.

When we receive a bug report, we usually try to fix the problem. While our bug fixes may seem like individual assistance, they are not; they are part of preparing a new improved version. We may send you a patch for a bug so that you can help us test the fix and ensure its quality. If your bug report does not evoke a solution from us, you may still get one from another user who reads our bug report mailing lists. Otherwise, use the GNU Service Directory (58k characters).

Please do not ask us to help you install software or learn how to use it--but do tell us how an installation script fails or where documentation is unclear.

Finally, please note that many companies now redistribute GNU software, often as part of a GNU/Linux distribution. When you find bugs in a GNU program that you installed with a given GNU/Linux distribution, it is often useful to first try reporting the bug directly to the distributor, not to us. Sometimes, distributors have modified the GNU software (as they are free to do so!) or they are running older versions. Thus, they may be the best people to find a bug as it pertains to a particular distribution.

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