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Please don’t report Ubuntu bugs directly to Launchpad

This warrants some explanation. If you just want to know what to do instead, skip to the end.

For over three years now, Ubuntu has been using Launchpad to track bugs. This has been an overwhelming success in terms of the number of bug reports filed, so much so that we have trouble keeping up with them.

Ubuntu, like Debian, carries a huge variety of software, and we accept bug reports for all of it. This means that all of the problems in thousands of independently produced components, as well as all of the secondary issues which arise from integrating them together, are all legitimate Ubuntu bug reports. Casual searching hints that for a given problem with a free software program today, there is likely a bug report in Launchpad about it.

What do we gain by collecting all of this information in one place? We get the big picture. We can make connections between seemingly unrelated bugs in multiple programs which point to a common cause. We can quickly and easily reclassify bug reports which are filed in the wrong place. We can provide a feed of all the data, and access through a single API, so that it can be analyzed by anyone. It gives us a coherent view of the bug data for all of the projects we depend on.

So, having all of these bug reports is useful. How do we make it manageable? We never expect to have zero open bugs, but we do expect to ship products that meet people’s needs, and that means that the worst bugs get fixed within the time available in our release cycle. We’re limited by how quickly our triagers can read and evaluate each report, and how quickly a developer can analyze and fix the problem.

The good news is, you can help accelerate both groups’ work with one simple step: report bugs using ubuntu-bug rather than going directly to Launchpad.

This automatically includes as much information as we can collect about your problem, without any additional work on your part. It’s easy!

$ ubuntu-bug network-manager      # report a bug on Network Manager
$ ubuntu-bug linux                # report a bug on the Linux kernel

The man page for ubuntu-bug contains more examples.

Of course, there are some circumstances where this is not possible, and you can still file bugs the old fashioned way if necessary. If you do, please remember to include details such as which version of Ubuntu you’re using, which package the problem is in, which version of the package is installed, and so on. Read the official instructions for reporting bugs for more information.


Written by Matt Zimmerman

March 31, 2009 at 20:22

Posted in Uncategorized

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33 Responses

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  1. This is a great idea, I’ve been using apport on Jaunty, and I can say it’s extremely intelligent and helpful – and helps me avoid the dreaded duplicates!


    March 31, 2009 at 21:55

  2. Interesting. The vastly superior Debian bts using reportbug was a key reason I moved to Debian. Vastly superior because much more useful bug reports are filed, which get much useful responses from developers than I saw from my time using Ubuntu. Overall, Debian’
    s bts gives better information, and faster workarounds and fixes, which much less noise. Perhaps ubuntu-bug is a port of the Debian tool? I look forward to checking it out.


    April 1, 2009 at 01:40

    • It is a separate tool, based on apport: http://wiki.ubuntu.com/Apport

      This allows the same infrastructure to be used for crashes and other bug reports


      April 1, 2009 at 10:09

  3. A tool to add this info to our “old” bugs would be nice to have then.

    As far as I can see, ubuntu-bug only handles package names, binary names or PIDs, there doesn’t seem to be a way to specify “Add the things you’ve collected to this existing bug”


    April 1, 2009 at 06:50

  4. […] Zimmerman: Please don’t report Ubuntu bugs directly to Launchpad. Matt brings us a reminder about something I posted a link to last week, making sure we know the […]

  5. I’ve never heard of it before, and wondered if it existed on Intrepid, or if this was some new Jaunty thing. So I ran ubuntu-bug, and got a dialog saying

    “You need to specify a package or a PID. See –help for more information.”

    Naturally, I tried ubuntu-bug –help next, but that one gave me a

    “Package –help does not exist”.

    I’d look in launchpad.net if this is a known problem (I’m sure it is), but launchpad is offline for scheduled maintenance right now.

    Marius Gedminas

    April 1, 2009 at 23:25

    • There is a man page:

      man ubuntu-bug

      with syntax information, and there are also further instructions on the ReportingBugs page I linked to in the post (which explains which releases are supported as well).


      April 1, 2009 at 23:44

      • The example in the article fails to use the correct syntax?

        $ ubuntu-bug network-manager # report a bug on Network Manager
        $ ubuntu-bug linux # report a bug on the Linux kernel

        The man page say that a lower_case -p for packages and an upper_case -P for pids.


        May 2, 2009 at 21:00

        • The syntax is correct for Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, I believe, requires -p or -P.


          May 2, 2009 at 21:57

  6. Is it possible for someone packaging debs hosted on their PPA to use this too? I am getting bug reports on my packages from users, and this could be useful!

    Damon Lynch

    April 2, 2009 at 01:40

    • At present, this doesn’t quite work for PPA packages, because Launchpad doesn’t track bugs for PPA packages. I think there may be work in progress, there (ask on the launchpad-users mailing list).

      If Launchpad tracked PPA bugs, it would be straightforward to use ubuntu-bug there as well.


      April 2, 2009 at 12:13

  7. The only downside to this and Debian’s BTS is how regular users would go about using it. I wouldn’t recommend anything reminiscent of the “send/don’t send” dialog from Windows, but maybe a (Python?) GUI frontend to ubuntu-bug for selecting a package or app found under “Add/remove applications” for filing bugs as opposed to using a terminal.

    This would be friendlier to most users, especially newer ones just making the initial switch. I would also recommend a sort of OLE-like “drag the launcher icon here to report a bug” type of interface more like a Mac would use. Anything to keep users from having to fire up a terminal adds to Ubuntu’s usability, and therefore makes a more attractive alternative for most users.


    April 3, 2009 at 08:08

    • Check out the instructions linked in the post. In most applications, you can go to the Help menu, and select “Report a problem” without using the command line.

      Bear in mind that this facility is for reporting bugs (i.e. a clear and precise description of a software defect). It’s primarily for advanced users who are participating in the development of the software, or users who have been instructed to report a bug by someone who has analyzed their problem.

      There are more appropriate resources for most users, including the “Get help online” option in the menu (which goes to Launchpad Answers), the Ubuntu Forums, IRC, and so on.


      April 3, 2009 at 13:02

  8. sorry for the noob question, I wish to ask if it is correct to submit bug reports automatically via apport or if there is a problem with that…When Beta went out, I switched to it, using it as normally as possible.
    When submitting, until now, my effort consisted at checking for duplicates and submitting if appropriate, if not appropriate, I opted for subscription.
    TIA for every response.


    April 9, 2009 at 10:16

    • Yes, it is absolutely appropriate to submit bug reports when you are prompted by apport (for example, when a program crashes). We wouldn’t ask for these reports if we didn’t want them. :-)

      Note that ubuntu-bug is a part of apport and uses the same tools and process for reporting bugs. ubuntu-bug gives you the opportunity to explicitly tell us about a problem that we couldn’t detect. When we do detect a problem (such as a crash), we’ll often prompt you to file a bug automatically, as this gives us the best opportunity to collect the relevant information at the time when the problem occurred.


      April 9, 2009 at 12:29

  9. How about describing the command in the space where it’s first introduced? Or making the “man” command usable for someone who doesn’t have it’s functions memorized? I end up having to close the terminal window that it’s running in to get man to close. Help me help you…. hmm, maybe I should submit a bug against the man command? Or maybe a bug against myself for not understanding it would be more fitting?


    April 23, 2009 at 07:06

    • Try pressing ‘q’ to ‘quit’ the man page reader (pager).


      April 28, 2009 at 18:30

  10. What is the preferred way for me to report a bug that is not related to a package, for example a bug whereby the installation hangs under certain circumstances?


    April 26, 2009 at 10:46

    • You can find a comprehensive answer to that question at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bugs/FindRightPackage


      April 26, 2009 at 16:40

      • You may call it comprehensive but I call it vague. The problem after a hang is that there is very little to pick up on. A restart of the system is required and finding the ‘right package’ is virtually impossible. The packages are many and inter-related, the most the user has to go on is what they were doing on screen at the time.

        For those of us that have unstable systems could a continuous log file monitor processes loaded (and ideally the ones active at point of crash) and so be available to view and report on reboot?


        May 1, 2009 at 08:41

  11. Unfortunately, apport-collect doesn’t work in my case:

    $ apport-collect -p network-manager 368457
    Logging into Launchpad…
    The authorization page (https://edge.launchpad.net/+authorize-token?oauth_token=***************) should be opening in your browser. After you have authorized this program to access Launchpad on your behalf you should come back here and press to finish the authentication process.

    Error connecting to Launchpad: HTTP Error 401: Unauthorized
    You have to allow “Change anything” privileges.

    I’ve repeated this process a few times and did click on the “Change anything” button but still doesn’t work. :-(

    Hendy Irawan

    April 28, 2009 at 11:19

  12. Well, I reported the above apport bug using ubuntu-bug :)


    Hendy Irawan

    April 28, 2009 at 12:03

  13. I have lived with Ubuntu bugs over the past 5 years. Each release has fixed more than have been regressed. In short I have always been able to do what I need and been able to do what I want with help of the forums, googling, trying and feeding back into the forums.


    David Robertson

    April 28, 2009 at 16:05

  14. I only have sound for power-up and power-off

    I am using the legal ATI hdradeon 3850 video card driver, and standard JJ with a 64bit Intel E7300 (4 gig) and an ASUS mother board. Pulse and all other audio worked like a charm in 8.10 and 8.04, but, since applying updates, to JJ, there is absolutely no audio.
    HOWEVER, if I install the non-open source commercial driver (sound works perfectly, but the screen image is offset to the left by one inch. Also with the commercial driver, X runs at 99% and one is unable to change displays.

    Please excuse me for reporting this here, but it is not apparent which package or what procedure to follow to report said type of problem.

    Also, there is no compiz and setting the equivalent does not allow wiggily windows (with the non-free drivers) and does not work at all with the open-source drivers.


    Leslie Satenstein

    April 29, 2009 at 23:40

    • If you are using a driver other than the one provided by Ubuntu, then you should report your bugs to the driver author rather than to Ubuntu. If you’re using the default Ubuntu drivers, then you should file your bug using “ubuntu-bug xserver-xorg-video-XXX” (where XXX is the driver name, like “ati”) or just “ubuntu-bug xorg” if you’re unsure.


      May 1, 2009 at 09:51

  15. I’m getting repeated full system crashes and it does not seem to be related to any particular app. I guess it is a more system thing like a graphics driver.

    When it happens I have to reboot holding AltGr then SysRq r e i s u b. Upon recovery there is no log file in /var/crash to help.

    What is the best way to report this?


    May 1, 2009 at 08:29

    • It looks like the documentation could use a bit of work to explain this case more clearly.

      First, see if it really is crashed. Is the caps lock light flashing? If so, it’s a kernel panic and you should follow https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DebuggingSystemCrash and use “ubuntu-bug linux” to file a bug on the kernel.

      If not, try using ping or ssh from another system on the network, to see if it is still alive. Bugs like 359392 can look like a system crash, but really the graphics driver is just wedged and the rest of the system is still running.

      We don’t yet generate an automatic crash dump for kernel panics, but this is planned for the next release: https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/foundations-karmic-linux-kernel-crash-dump


      May 1, 2009 at 09:41

  16. I just go to the forums.

    If you don’t get answered right away
    you’ll get one eventually.

    I’ve had at least 25 vital questions
    and everyone got answered + solved
    when and if applicable.

    People who publicly decry Ubuntu or
    any other Linux OS/apps
    are like bacteria.

    I’ll bet some even get
    a paycheck for it…….from???
    (HINT: What did Jackie Gleason say to his pal?)

    Randy Wilharm

    May 1, 2009 at 21:42

  17. Mplayer simply does not work on any of our (6) internal systems (a mix of desktop and server editions) that we upgraded to 9.04

    It just crashes within 2-3 seconds of opening – no error messages or the like.

    We are now forced to take the most disappointing step of reverting to 8.10 on our own systems and the most embarrasing step of telling clients to revert to a previous version of Ubuntu.

    TMIT World Limited

    May 10, 2009 at 08:26

  18. […] to use Apport (via ubuntu-bug and ‘Report a Problem’) to report all bugs in Ubuntu. As others have pointed out, this is key to improving the quality of bug reports and in turn reduce the time to […]

    heno log » Better bugs

    June 1, 2009 at 02:22

  19. […] to use Apport (via ubuntu-bug and ‘Report a Problem’) to report all bugs in Ubuntu. As others have pointed out, this is key to improving the quality of bug reports and in turn reduce the time to […]

  20. This is not an optimal solution since many bugs are not related to a specific computer. Example, filed in a few minutes: “man pages obsolete for TestDisk (version 6.14 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS)”

    Anders Hall

    June 4, 2014 at 13:27

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