SUMMARY: Problem Tracking

From: Jim Murff (
Date: Fri Feb 19 1993 - 02:44:55 CST


Well ... WOW, I was amazed at the number of responses to my original question.
I got one response that said this wasn't an appropriate question and 18 that
were very positive.( So a big rassberry to the 1 ;} ). Anyway the original
question was ::

 I am trying to develop a bug tracking system for my users.
 (For admin type problems and product problems.) I have no money to spend and I have developed some shell scripts as front ends.( query for problem send a
rigidly formated mail message to me ... then I need to do something with them.)

Sun OS has dbm and ndbm built in so I thought I use that to manage it like NIS. Problem is the documentation is awful. (Total of 4 man pages). I have written
bookstores and ) O'Reilly pleading for info (books, white papers etc.) with no
luck. Answerbook and the good old paper manuals have only the 4 man pages.

So the question is have any of you developed bug tracking systems for your
networks ( I have only suns and a giant list of things people want fixed on
them hence the need to track). Do you use ndbm and where did you get info
on it? Are there better suggestions? Any feedback greatly appreciated.

        Well, the answers were numerous and very interesting. I have gone and
gotten many of the packages mentioned. I am probably going to look at several
packages but I suspect I will write my own simple one in Perl(?? maybe. :o ).

FIRST :: O' Reilly Books finally responded about any books on the subject ::
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. Publishers of Nutshell Handbooks
        Awilda Scott writes :
> Sorry about the delay in answering, I've been trying to find out about
> DBM. We don't have any books on the subject, and don't seem to have any
> planned in the near future. Also couldn't get arecommendation for any
> other company.

        Today I recieved this message from Tim O'Reilly HIMSELF ( I was
                                                                impressed! :))
> I'm sorry to say that we don't have anything on dbm. There is some
> small discussion of it in our book on NFS and NIS, but it largely
> confines itself to the use of dbm files in that context.
> We'll put this on our list of topics to consider.

         The main opinion on DBM was it stinks! It was recommended that I get
GNU gdbm. Also several packages do exsist on the subject of tracking. I have
tried to put a brief synopsis and location of them here. If you want more info
I will be happy to share all that people sent me. (* indicates the ones I got
to look at or plan to.)

1.) *PERL - This has of course been around a while. I had been putting of getting
                it but was urged to by several people. It is available all over.
                It's freely available and there is a very good O'Reilly book
                by Larry Wall who wrote it. It uses dbm to store associated
                arrays (ones where you have akey word as the index into the
                array). This would probably get you going without too much
                hassle (apart from learning a new language).
                (Thanks to Glenn Satchell)

                I got it from in /systems/gnu/perl-4.036.tar.Z
                (which is mirrored from Also there is a
                newsgroup comp.lang.perl.( Larry Wall is all over the group)
                I got the FAQ from in /usenet/comp.lang.perl

2.) *GDBM - Gnu DBM. A much better documented package that has examples. Can be
                used with Perl. It is available at
                I got it at in /pub/packages/gdbm-1.5.tar.Z
                   ( Thanks to )

3.) *PROBLEM - A "problem" database manager
                   Problem is a database manager for bug reports and such, meant
                to be used in a UNIX environment. It is written in C++;
                uses the GNU Database Management Library (GDBM) for low-level
                database operations and the termcap(3) library for screen
                control. An X Windows interface is being developed. The basic
                idea is to provide a central front-end for managing the various
                databases of bugs and miscreant behaviour that a large UNIX
                site might be interested in tracking, and facilitating the
                sharing of this information amongst all interested

                Around August, it was around v.8 or .9. You can get the
                latest release from It requires g++,
                and a bunch of other stuff. It seemed to be well thought out
                (Thanks to -- Adam Shostack )
                I got it at in /pub/packages/problem1.1.tar.Z
                ( Thanks again to )

4.) *REQUEST - There was a presentation at the last Sun Users' Group meeting of
                a small system for monitoring problems and requests called
                 The software is/was available from in

                It does require perl and is more of a to-do list tracking system,
                but it IS free.
                (Thanks to Hap Hinrichs)

                Jim Sharp has a bug tracking program called request that he wrote up in the 1992 LISA conference. You might want to check it out.
                His email address is:
                (Thanks to Shirley Stephan)

6.) *FLEALIST - There is (apparently) a very simple example of a bug tracking
                system (called "flealist") written in perl by Larry Wall (the
                creator of perl). I don't believe the example actually uses
                ndbm files, but using ndbm files in perl is really as easy as
                accessing an associative array (once the array is associated
                with the database files).
                "flealist" is described in the "Programming perl" book by
                Larry Wall and Randal L. Schwartz (published by O'Reilly),
                pages 264-267. The source should also be available online on
       in the oreilly book section. [it is there!]
                (Thanks to Andrew Rakowski)

7.) QMH - a software product that I wrote to handle problems like you are
                probably experiencing. Qmh is an MH-based group mail
                management tool. Written entirely in perl, Qmh combines
                the best aspects of MH with group mail heuristics and delivers
                a sensible package for all levels of UNIX users. A limitless
                number of individual queues and associated groups of permitted
                users can be established.

                Specific functionality includes the following modes of operation;
                checking header dates and sending reminder/deadline mail, editing
                existing messages, help screens, creating new messages from
                scratch or exiting messages, resolving messages, scanning queue
                folders, and annotating with status both by editing and sending

                 If you're further interested, please mail'
                for pricing/availibility.
                (Thanks to David R. Hieb)

8.) NETLOG(v2.0) - the JvNCnet trouble ticketing system, is now available
                via anonymous ftp from (~ftp/pub/netlog-tt.tar.Z).
                This software runs on Unix systems, and is NOT based on any
                database. It is fast, efficient and has been in use at JvNCnet
                since 1990. NETLOG uses an open, update, close ticketing
                mechanism. This software is part of the NOCOL (Network Operation
                Center On Line) package developed at JvNCnet. The other portion
                of JvNCnet's package, "netmon" (for network monitoring) will be
                available shortly. Questions to
                (Thanks to Geert Jan de Groot)

                % There are several commercial products, such as one from Remedy
                  which is very good, but expensive so I guess that rules it out.
                  (Thanks to Glenn Satchell)
                % There's a bboard system called "notes" that you might give
                  a shot, but it's a real mess, especially if you try to run it
                  over the net. Why not just make a local newsgroup?
                  (Thanks to Anthony A. Datri)

                  [Local Newsgroup won't work because I am planning (if this
                  works <grin>) to expand to customer problems and Local is to

                % AT&T makes a product called SABLIME. They advertise in
                  UNIX REVIEW so check it out sometime.
                  (Thanks to Lenny Simon)

Well that about does it. Thanks so much for the amazing responses. As always
this group is amazing. I went from dead stand still to viable solution in
12 hours!!

THANKS TO :: (hope I didn't miss anyone. Sorry if I did!)
------------ (G W Hinrichs III) (Jennine Townsend)
 Awilda Scott <>
 Joe Konczal <> (Adam Shostack)
 fourx!!root@fourx.Aus.Sun.COM (Greg Kastanek) (Anthony A. Datri) (Andrew Rakowski - USU - RS/GIS Lab)
 David Hieb <>
 David Fetrow <> (Lenny Simon)
 Geert Jan de Groot <>

-Jim Murff
Jim Murff ( Voice # (619)622-8878
IRT Corp, San Diego, CA. (619)450-4343
System Software/System Admin. Fax # (619)622-8888

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