One of the many reasons that Ubuntu is a great operating system is because it's developed by the community. You, me, and hundreds of other people join efforts in making it better each day.
Which is why we're very happy that you want to help with bugs.
If you want information about filing bugs, please see ReportingBugs
Don't feel intimidated when you're first starting out. You can start with something simple like triaging bugs or you can jump right in with fixing bugs themselves.
We regularly hold Ubuntu Bug Days, where people from all over chip in and focus on a particular area. But don't feel like you have to wait. Just jump right in!
What is a bug?
When we talk about Bugs, we're discussing faults or errors in the software. They're errors because the software claims to do certain things but then doesn't.
For instance, if a program suddenly disappears, that's a bug. Or if a program is supposed to play music, but doesn't make a sound, that's a bug. Or if some text is translated incorrectly, that's also a bug.
Some things aren't bugs, but are missing features that should be reasonably included. There isn't a bright line that you can draw between bugs and missing features, but here's a guideline: if it's a problem that would have many details to address, it's likely to be a feature. For example, the inability to write files safely to a modern Windows partition is a missing feature. The inability to write files safely to a ReiserFS partition would be a bug.
Another way of distinguishing a bug is if it's a regression. That means that something used to work, and now doesn't any more. We try fairly hard to get these identified early, because regressions represent a reduction in functionality.
Bug triage is an essential part of Ubuntu's development.
Triaging bugs consists of several things:
- Responding to new bugs as they are filed.
- Ensuring that new bugs have all the necessary information.
- Assigning bugs to the proper package.
- Confirming bug reports by trying to reproduce them.
- Setting the priority of bugs reports.
- Searching for and marking duplicates in the bug tracking system.
- Sending bugs to their upstream authors, when applicable.
- Cross-referencing bugs from other distributions.
- Expiring old bugs.
However, you don't need to do all of those things to help! Recreating a bug and setting the status to Confirmed is enough.
Bug triage is an excellent way to start helping out. You get to learn a lot about Ubuntu, its available packages, its infrastructure, and you get a feel for the development pulse.
You can learn how to triage bugs and chip in, just see the Bugs/Triage page.
Joining the team
You can almost always find members of the Bug Squad in #ubuntu-bugs on the freenode IRC server who will be happy to answer any questions you have.
If you have an interest in delving deep into bugs, we'd love to have you help fix bugs. Each package you install in Ubuntu gets built from a source package. Each source package has a page devoted to its bugs.
For instance, the bug page for the hello package is at: https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/hello/+bugs.
You don't have to know how to program to fix bugs, but it certainly helps! There are some simple things that anyone can do. For starters, many bugs involve typos or documentation problems, which anyone can fix. If you can write in another language, there are plenty of translation errors you can solve. For functionality problems, you can try to track down a fix by the upstream authors of a package. Or find a fix that was included in another distribution.
You can learn more about fixing bugs by reading the Bugs/HowToFix page.
Adopting a package
If you've got a keen interest in a particular source package, you can help out by adopting it. This means that you want to act as a liaison between Ubuntu and the people who wrote the package that we include in the distribution.
This involves developing a relationship with the people who work on this software: developers, users, and other members of the community. You can quickly become an expert by triaging bugs associated with this package and even fixing some of them.
You can learn more about doing this by consulting the BugSquad/AdoptPackage page.
Bugs/HowToTriage will show you how to begin and which steps are to be followed as a bug triager
Bugs/CommonTasks explains different tasks, which are done in the world of bugs every day
Bugs/Status how Ubuntu uses the Status field
Bugs/Importance how Ubuntu uses the Importance field
Bugs/Responses has a list of common responses for the most common types of bugs
Bugs/Examples show examples of bugs and how they were resolved
Bugs/Teams introduces to different workflows of different teams
Bugs/Debian for specific information about sharing bugs/patches with Debian
DebuggingProcedures for Ubuntu bugs