Monthly Archives: May 2008

Why aren’t our users familiar with ?

As part of the bug triage I asked users to test their bugs with recent versions of, and referred the users of the stable branch to

I got a lot of responses from users saying they didn’t know about the backports repository. For most of them that’s a time saver in the process of getting newer software. Some were glad to upgrade and to confirm their bugs with the recent version.

I’m wondering how should we publish this (unofficial) service? Having results from appear in packages.d.o was a good start. Maybe adding a link from the PTS as a reminder to the maintainer? (but this don’t help the users).

Any ideas ?


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux

Ubuntu’s reportbug-ng sends bug reports to Debian’s BTS

I checked the Debian firefox bugs page and noticed a new bug was reported against firefox. Checking the bug report showed the bug is new as it reported against version 3.0b5. As there’s now firefox package in debian testing/unstable that was weired enough.

Reading the bug report revealed these details:

Package: firefox
Version: 3.0~b5+nobinonly-0ubuntu3


Debian Release: lenny/sid
500 hardy-updates
500 hardy-security
500 hardy

I mailed the user to see why does he reports Ubuntu’s bugs to Debian. He replied that he’s using the reportbug-ng program and wasn’t aware that his bug have been sent to Debian.

I check the reportbug and reportbug-ng in Ubuntu and found that reportbug has the needed patch for Ubuntu:

diff -pruN 3.39/reportbug.conf 3.39ubuntu3/reportbug.conf
--- 3.39/reportbug.conf 2004-12-06 13:59:04.000000000 +0000
+++ 3.39ubuntu3/reportbug.conf 2007-10-25 07:22:47.000000000 +0100
@@ -6,7 +6,7 @@
# severity normal

# BTS to use
-#bts debian
+bts ubuntu
# See ‘reportbug –bts help’ for a current list of supported BTSes

# Submission address: default is ‘submit’

but since hardy reportbug-ng package in Ubuntu is identical to the one in Debian.

$ rmadison -u ubuntu reportbug-ng
reportbug-ng | 0.2007.10.30~feisty1 | feisty-backports/universe | source, all
reportbug-ng | 0.2007.06.27 | gutsy/universe | source, amd64, i386, powerpc
reportbug-ng | 0.2007.10.30~gutsy1 | gutsy-backports/universe | source, all
reportbug-ng | 0.2007.10.30 | hardy/universe | source, all
reportbug-ng | 0.2008.03.28 | intrepid/universe | source, all

Doing more checks reveals that this is a known problem in Ubuntu and is already reported at Bug #175508. This was also discussed three weeks ago on “Ubuntu Open Week – Reporting Bugs“.

A quick look at the reportbug-ng code makes it clear that reportbug-ng will require more work to support the Ubuntu BTS. There were also some comments about the configuration for Ubuntu in reportbug, as it just send the reports to ubuntu-users mailing list and not to the real BTS at

I’m still not sure what to do about the bug. On one hand, that package originates in Debian, and the bug is probably relevant. On the other hand, the cause might be a change from Ubuntu. In any case, I
don’t see the user following our BTS, and I don’t way to fixed package (if and when created) to propagate to Ubuntu.


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, QA stuff, Ubuntu

What can Debian learn from Fedora about recruiting new people?

I’ve been visiting the fedora website in the last couple of days. One thing caught my interest, and that’s the “join Fedora” link just bellow the “get Fedora” one.

I clicked on it and got to this very simple “Join Fedora” page. The appealing part is the large icons which roughly lists the main ways to contribute to Fedora:

  • Content Writer
  • Designer
  • People Person
  • OS Developer
  • Translator
  • Web Developer or Administrator

Clicking etch icon gives you a description of relevant skills, related teams and typical tasks of this role. This is very useful for people not sure about what can they do or where exactly their skills are needed.

On the Debian’s website we have a “help debian” page which lists very similar functions the user can help with. The difference is that we list them at text which is less appealing than the Fedora’s icons. Fedora does have similar text to Debian, but it is organized into roles instead of suggesting everything to everyone.

I also think there’s a semantic difference with the term help and join. To me joining a project sounds more strong than helping it. Probably because joining something makes you a part of it, while helping does not. Although in the end both term have the exact same meaning in for the project themselves – users getting involved. has a big “I want to participate in” text in their font page, which like Fedora leads to a set of defined roles. Same thing in Ubuntu with their “Get Involved” page. It is important that each role page will have links the to tools people need in order to start contribute.

I don’t have the required graphical skills to do such icons, but I’m willing to create/edit the pages on the Debian website. I’ll be happy to hear comments before I approach the debian-www people.


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora,

Firefox triage has ended – 300+ bugs processed

It took half a year (including a long pause), and the Firefox triage is finally over. The last part, reviewing 120 bug reports took about a month. Starting with 324 bugs, the triage ended with 10 open bugs which I left for the maintainer to handle himself.

Although I didn’t keep record about the exact numbers about how many bugs were found to be fixed, it seems that ~250 bugs were closed (fixed, not relevant any more, whatever…). This leaves ~70 bugs to be valid (all reassigned to Iceweasel and got the right version info).

As I see it, the biggest problem of the large package maintainers have is to figure out if the bug is Debian specific or upstream only. The latter should be reported upstream by the users (when possible) to lower the pressure on the maintainers.

I my recent triages I saw a lot of upstream only bugs reported only in Debian, since the maintainers can’t be just “bugs forwarders”. It might work well in small packages, but this doesn’t scale up. So when possible, please try and report bugs upstream…

Anyway, I’ll probably initiate another triage for Iceweasel when version 3.0 will enter testing (probably post Lenny).


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Mozilla, QA stuff