Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Not to Write Bug Reporting Guidelines

These directions are from the Debian Samba package (which provides Windows-style file- and printer-sharing).

This kind of attitude is sadly common among free software, and it's extremely counterproductive if your goal is actually finding bugs and improving the software. The 3rd paragraph is where it gets really rich (note that it is trivial to change the bug's severity after submission).
2. Reporting Bugs

If you believe you have found a bug please make sure the possible bug also exists in the latest version of Samba that is available for the unstable Debian distribution. If you are running Debian stable this means that you will probably have to build your own packages. And if the problem does not exist in the latest version of Samba we have packaged it means that you will have to run the version of Samba you built yourself since it is not easy to upload new packages to the stable distribution, unless they fix critical security problems.

If you can reproduce the problem in the latest version of Samba then it is likely to be a real bug. Your best shot is to search the Samba mailing lists to see if it is something that has already been reported and fixed - if it is a simple fix we can add the patch to our packages without waiting for a new Samba release.

If you decide that your problem deserves to be submitted to the Debian Bug Tracking System (BTS) we expect you to be responsive if we request more information. If we request more information and do not receive any in a reasonable time frame expect to see your bug closed without explanation - we can't fix bugs we can't reproduce, and most of the time we need more information to be able to reproduce them.

When submitting a bug to the Debian BTS please include the version of the Debian package you are using as well as the Debian distribution you are using. Think _twice_ about the severity you assign to the bug: we are _very_ sensitive about bug severities; the fact that it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that the severity must be such that it holds a major Debian release. In fact, that it doesn't work for you it doesn't mean that it doesn't work for others. So again: think _twice_.

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