Howto Report Bugs in Debian from an Ubuntu System

Maintainers of packages in Debian prefer to have their bugs in debbugs. Debbugs is completely email driven, and no authentication is required at all. This means that anyone can report any bug (from wishlist to serious bugs) to Debian from any system.

The canonical documentation for debbugs is http://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting. This wiki page is a short how-to for the reportbug utility and gives some guidelines for Ubuntu users and developers.

Searching for Debian bugs

The command line tool querybts is part of the reportbug package and is useful for searching for existing Debian bug reports. To find bugs about vim you'd use querybts vim which will present with a report of bugs about vim. From there you can then view the full bug report or filter using patterns to find a specific bug.

Using reportbug to report bugs in Debian

Debian recommends its users to use the reportbug command line utility, so you don't need to remember the syntax for debbugs. It collects the information you want to submit and sends a suitable formatted email to submit@bugs.debian.org.

This utility is installed on all Ubuntu systems as well. In Ubuntu, the configuration file was modified to report to ubuntu-users@lists.ubuntu.com as the default, but this can be overridden one time using the -B debian parameter, or permantently by editing the bts line in /etc/reportbug.conf. You may need to change the smtphost option in the same file if it is set to fiordland.ubuntu.com which does not allow relaying.

Before using reportbug for the first time, you should configure it. Use reportbug --configure for an easy interface to your ~/.reportbugrc.

Use this command to report a bug e.g. in the londonlaw package

  • reportbug -B debian londonlaw

Using submittodebian to forward patches to Debian

submittodebian is an elegant way to forward patches to Debian. It's included in the ubuntu-dev-tools package (since version 0.4).

Some good reasons to use it:

  • it makes use of Debian/Usertagging

  • it spawns your editor where you can easily remove portions of the patch that do not apply
  • it calls reportbug internally

Example usage:

daniel@bert:~$ apt-get source xicc
daniel@bert:~$ cd xicc-0.2/
daniel@bert:~/xicc-0.2$ sed -i 's/colour/color/g' debian/control
daniel@bert:~/xicc-0.2$ dch -i 'debian/control: replaced "colour" with "color".'
daniel@bert:~/xicc-0.2$ debuild -S
daniel@bert:~/xicc-0.2$ submittodebian

Of course the above change is silly, but it demonstrates that after your change you are required to build the source package again, then execute submittodebian.

It will then

  • spawn editor, where you can put on the finishing touches to the patch
  • call reportbug, where you interactively can see if the bug is already filed and so on.

When to report bugs in Debian

As most packages in the Ubuntu universe come from Debian, most bugs are likely to be present in both distributions. In order to avoid unnecessary divergence from packages in Ubuntu from Debian, it is more convenient for the MOTU if the bug is fixed in Debian instead. Here are some guidelines for when to report bugs in Debian:

  • Make sure the bug does apply to Debian. UbuntuPackagingChanges has a list of changes that are explicitly different in Ubuntu.

  • You have an improvement suggestion and have been asked to report this to Debian. If you use reportbug make sure you file a wishlist bug.

  • You discovered that an Ubuntu package has a patch which Debian should have as well.
    • Use submittodebian as described above, or

    • use utilities like debdiff to get the patch and tell reportbug to attach your diff. In this case, tag your bug with patch. For more information on how to better tag your bug report, check out Debian/Usertagging.

Mass Bug Filing

In some cases, a pervasive problem/feature affects numerous (~10 or more) packages in Debian. Debian Policy has a process for "mass bug filing". Please refer to:

After reporting it in Debian

After having reported the bug in Debian's bug tracker, please link the Debian bug report to the Ubuntu/Launchpad bug, if there is one. You can do so by selecting "Also affects distribution" in the Ubuntu bug report. For more information regarding the process read about bug watches. Creating a bug watch allows tracking of the Debian bug report.

Go back to Debian.

Debian/Bugs (last edited 2011-05-05 16:38:58 by stefanor)