Information regarding the bug processing system for package maintainers and bug triagers

Initially, a bug report is submitted by a user as an ordinary mail message to which must include a Package line (see Bug Reporting Instructions for more information). This will then be given a number, acknowledged to the user, and forwarded to debian-bugs-dist. If the Package line contains a package which has a known maintainer, the maintainer will get a copy too.

The Subject line will have Bug#nnn: added, and the Reply-To will be set to include both the submitter of the report and

Closing bug reports

Debian bug reports should be closed when the problem is fixed. Problems in packages can only be considered fixed once a package that includes the bug fix enters the Debian archive.

Normally, the only people that should close a bug report are the submitter of the bug and the maintainer(s) of the package against which the bug is filed. There are exceptions to this rule, for example, the bugs filed against unknown packages or certain generic pseudo-packages. When in doubt, don't close bugs, first ask for advice on the debian-devel mailing list.

Bug reports should be closed by sending email to The message body needs to contain an explanation of how the bug was fixed.

With the emails received from the bug tracking system, all you need to do to close the bug is to make a Reply in your mail reader program and edit the To field to say instead of (nnn-close is provided as an alias for nnn-done).

Where applicable, please supply a Version line in the pseudo-header of your message when closing a bug, so that the bug tracking system knows which releases of the package contain the fix.

The person closing the bug, the person who submitted it and the debian-bugs-closed mailing list will each get a notification about the change in status of the report. The submitter and the mailing list will also receive the contents of the message sent to nnn-done.

Followup messages

The bug tracking system will include the submitter's address and the bug address ( in the Reply-To header after forwarding the bug report. Please note that these are two distinct addresses.

Any developer wishing to reply to a bug report should simply reply to the message, respecting the Reply-To header. This will not close the bug.

Do not use the reply to all recipients or followup feature of your mailer unless you intend to edit down the recipients substantially. In particular, see that you don't send followup messages to

Messages can be sent to the following addresses in order to be filed in the bug tracking system:

For more information about headers to suppress ACK messages and how to send carbon copies using the Bug Tracking System, see the instructions for reporting bugs.

Severity levels

The bug system records a severity level with each bug report. This is set to normal by default, but can be overridden either by supplying a Severity line in the pseudo-header when the bug is submitted (see the instructions for reporting bugs), or by using the severity command with the control request server.

The severity levels are:

makes unrelated software on the system (or the whole system) break, or causes serious data loss, or introduces a security hole on systems where you install the package.
makes the package in question unusable or mostly so, or causes data loss, or introduces a security hole allowing access to the accounts of users who use the package.
is a severe violation of Debian policy (roughly, it violates a must or required directive), or, in the package maintainer's or release manager's opinion, makes the package unsuitable for release.
a bug which has a major effect on the usability of a package, without rendering it completely unusable to everyone.
the default value, applicable to most bugs.
a problem which doesn't affect the package's usefulness, and is presumably trivial to fix.
for any feature request, and also for any bugs that are very difficult to fix due to major design considerations.

Certain severities are considered release-critical, meaning the bug will have an impact on releasing the package with the stable release of Debian. Currently, these are critical, grave and serious. For complete and canonical rules on what issues merit these severities, see the list of release-critical issues for the next release.

Tags for bug reports

Each bug can have zero or more of a set of given tags. These tags are displayed in the list of bugs when you look at a package's page, and when you look at the full bug log.

Tags can be set by supplying a Tags line in the pseudo-header when the bug is submitted (see the instructions for reporting bugs), or by using the tags command with the control request server. Separate multiple tags with commas, spaces, or both.

The current bug tags are: patch, wontfix, moreinfo, unreproducible, help, newcomer, pending, security, upstream, confirmed, fixed, fixed-upstream, fixed-in-experimental, d-i, ipv6, lfs, l10n, potato, woody, sarge, etch, lenny, squeeze, wheezy, jessie, stretch, buster, sid, experimental, sarge-ignore, etch-ignore, lenny-ignore, squeeze-ignore, wheezy-ignore, jessie-ignore, stretch-ignore, buster-ignore. Here is some detailed info about the tags:

A patch or some other easy procedure for fixing the bug is included in the bug logs. If there's a patch, but it doesn't resolve the bug adequately or causes some other problems, this tag should not be used.
This bug won't be fixed. Possibly because this is a choice between two arbitrary ways of doing things and the maintainer and submitter prefer different ways of doing things, possibly because changing the behaviour will cause other, worse, problems for others, or possibly for other reasons.
This bug can't be addressed until more information is provided by the submitter. The bug will be closed if the submitter doesn't provide more information in a reasonable (few months) timeframe. This is for bugs like It doesn't work. What doesn't work?
This bug can't be reproduced on the maintainer's system. Assistance from third parties is needed in diagnosing the cause of the problem.
The maintainer is requesting help with dealing with this bug. Either the maintainer does not have the skills necessary to fix this bug and desires collaboration, or is overloaded and wants to delegate this task. This bug might not be suitable for new contributors unless it is also tagged with the newcomer tag.
This bug has a known solution but the maintainer requests someone else implement it. This is an ideal task for new contributors who wish to get involved in Debian, or who wish to improve their skills.
A solution to this bug has been found and an upload will be made soon.
This bug is fixed or worked around (by a non-maintainer upload, for example), but there's still an issue that needs to be resolved. This tag replaces the old fixed severity.
This bug describes a security problem in a package (e.g., bad permissions allowing access to data that shouldn't be accessible; buffer overruns allowing people to control a system in ways they shouldn't be able to; denial of service attacks that should be fixed, etc). Most security bugs should also be set at critical or grave severity.
This bug applies to the upstream part of the package.
The maintainer has looked at, understands, and basically agrees with the bug, but has yet to fix it. (Use of this tag is optional; it is intended mostly for maintainers who need to manage large numbers of open bugs.)
The bug has been fixed by the upstream maintainer, but not yet in the package (for whatever reason: perhaps it is too complicated to backport the change or too minor to be worth bothering).
The bug has been fixed in the package of the experimental distribution, but not yet in the unstable distribution.
This bug is relevant to the development of debian-installer. It is expected that this will be used when the bug affects installer development but is not filed against a package that forms a direct part of the installer itself.
This bug affects support for Internet Protocol version 6.
This bug affects support for large files (over 2 gigabytes).
This bug is relevant to the localisation of the package.
potato, woody, sarge, etch, lenny, squeeze, wheezy, jessie, stretch, buster, sid, experimental
These are release tags, which have two effects. When set on a bug, the bug can only affect the particular release (though it may also affect other releases if other release tags are set) but otherwise normal buggy/fixed/absent rules apply. The bug also should not be archived until it is fixed in the release.
sarge-ignore, etch-ignore, lenny-ignore, squeeze-ignore, wheezy-ignore, jessie-ignore, stretch-ignore, buster-ignore
This release-critical bug is to be ignored for the purposes of releasing the particular release. These tags should only be used by the release manager(s); do not set it yourself without explicit authorization from them.

Some info on distribution-specific tags: the -ignore tags ignore the bug for the purposes of testing propagation. The release tags indicate that the bug in question should not be archived until it is fixed in the set of releases specified. The release tags also indicate that a bug should only be considered buggy in the set of releases specified. [In other words, the bug is absent in any release whose corresponding release tag is not set if any release tags are set; otherwise the normal found/fixed rules apply.]

Release tags should not be used if proper versioning of the bug would achieve the desired effect, as they require manual addition and removal. If you are unsure if a release tag is required, contact the Debian BTS Administrators ( or the release team for advice.

Recording that you have passed on a bug report

When a developer forwards a bug report to the developer of the upstream source package from which the Debian package is derived, they should note this in the bug tracking system as follows:

Make sure that the To field of your message to the author has only the author(s) address(es) in it; put the person who reported the bug, and in the CC field.

Ask the author to preserve the CC to when they reply, so that the bug tracking system will file their reply with the original report. These messages are only filed and are not sent on; to send a message as normal, send them to as well.

When the bug tracking system gets a message at nnn-forwarded it will mark the relevant bug as having been forwarded to the address(es) in the To field of the message it gets, if the bug is not already marked as forwarded.

You can also manipulate the forwarded to information by sending messages to

Changing bug ownership

In cases where the person responsible for fixing a bug is not the assigned maintainer for the associated package (for example, when the package is maintained by a team), it may be useful to record this fact in the bug tracking system. To help with this, each bug may optionally have an owner.

The owner can be set by supplying an Owner line in the pseudo-header when the bug is submitted (see the instructions for reporting bugs), or by using the owner and noowner commands with the control request server.

Incorrectly listed package maintainers

If the maintainer of a package is listed incorrectly, this is usually because the maintainer has changed recently, and the new maintainer hasn't yet uploaded a new version of the package with a changed Maintainer control file field. This will be fixed when the package is uploaded; alternatively, the archive maintainers can override the maintainer record of a package manually, for example if a rebuild and reupload of the package is not expected to be needed soon. Contact for changes to the override file.

Reopening, reassigning and manipulating bugs

It is possible to reassign bug reports to other packages, to reopen erroneously-closed ones, to modify the information saying to where, if anywhere, a bug report has been forwarded, to change the severities and titles of reports, to set the ownership of bugs, to merge and unmerge bug reports, and to record the versions of packages in which bugs were found and in which they were fixed. This is done by sending mail to

The format of these messages is described in another document available on the World Wide Web or in the file bug-maint-mailcontrol.txt. A plain text version can also be obtained by mailing the word help to the server at the address above.

Subscribing to bugs

The bug tracking system also allows bug submitters, developers and other interested third parties to subscribe to individual bugs. This feature can be used by those wishing to keep an eye on a bug, without having to subscribe to a package through the PTS. All messages that are received at, are sent to subscribers.

Subscribing to a bug can be done by sending an email to The subject and body of the email are ignored by the BTS. Once this message is processed, users are sent a confirmation message that they will need to reply to before they are sent the messages relating to that bug.

It is also possible to unsubscribe from a bug. Unsubscribing can be done by sending an email to The subject and body of the email are again ignored by the BTS. Users will be sent a confirmation message which they must reply to if they wish to be unsubscribed from the bug.

By default, the address subscribed is the one found in the From header. If you wish to subscribe another address to a bug, you will need to encode the address to be subscribed into the subscription message. This takes the form of: That example would send a subscription message for bug nnn. The @ sign must be encoded by changing it to an = sign. Similarly, an unsubscription takes the form In both cases, the subject and body of the email will be forwarded to the email address within the request for confirmation.

More-or-less obsolete subject-scanning feature

Messages that arrive at submit or bugs whose Subject starts Bug#nnn will be treated as having been sent to This is both for backwards compatibility with mail forwarded from the old addresses, and to catch followup mail sent to submit by mistake (for example, by using reply to all recipients).

A similar scheme operates for maintonly, done, quiet and forwarded, which treat mail arriving with a Subject tag as having been sent to the corresponding address.

Messages arriving at plain forwarded and done — ie, with no bug report number in the address — and without a bug number in the Subject will be filed under junk and kept for a few weeks, but otherwise ignored.

Obsolete X-Debian-PR: quiet feature

It used to be possible to prevent the bug tracking system from forwarding anywhere messages it received at debian-bugs, by putting an X-Debian-PR: quiet line in the actual mail header.

This header line is now ignored. Instead, send your message to quiet or nnn-quiet (or maintonly or nnn-maintonly).

Other BTS pages:

Debian BTS administrators <>

Debian bug tracking system
Copyright © 1999 Darren O. Benham, 1997, 2003 nCipher Corporation Ltd, 1994-1997 Ian Jackson.