How to report a bug in Debian using reportbug
We strongly recommend that you report bugs in Debian using the
program. To install and start it, simply run:
# aptitude install reportbug
It will guide you through the bug reporting process step by step.
If you have questions that the interactive prompts of reportbug do not resolve, you can refer to the rest of the documentation below or ask the Debian user mailing list.
How to report a bug in Debian using email (and advanced usage of reportbug)
Important things to note before sending your bug report
What package does your bug report belong to?
You need to know what package your bug report should be filed against. See this example for information on how to find this information. (You will use this information to see if your bug report has been filed already.)
If you are unable to determine which package your bug report should be filed against, please send e-mail to the Debian user mailing list asking for advice.
Has your bug report been filed already?
You should check to see if your bug report has already been filed before submitting it. You can see which bugs have been filed in a specific package using the package option of the bug search form. If there is an existing bug report #<number>, you should submit your comments by sending e-mail to <number>@bugs.debian.org instead of reporting a new bug.
Send multiple reports for multiple bugs
Please don't report multiple unrelated bugs — especially ones in different packages — in a single bug report.
Don't file bugs upstream
If you file a bug in Debian, don't send a copy to the upstream software maintainers yourself, as it is possible that the bug exists only in Debian. If necessary, the maintainer of the package will forward the bug upstream.
Sending the bug report via e-mail
Like any e-mail you should include a clear, descriptive
Subject line in your main mail header. The subject you
give will be used as the initial bug title in the tracking system, so
please try to make it informative!
If you'd like to send a copy of your bug report to additional recipients (such as mailing lists), you shouldn't use the usual e-mail headers, but a different method, described below.
The first part of the bug report are the pseudo-headers which contain information about what package and version your bug report applies to. The first line of the message body has to include a pseudo-header. It should say:
<packagename> with the name of the package which
has the bug.
The second line of the message should say:
<packageversion> with the version of the package.
Please don't include any text here other than the version itself, as the
bug tracking system relies on this field to work out which releases are
affected by the bug.
You need to supply a correct
Package line in the
pseudo-header in order for the bug tracking system to deliver the message
to the package's maintainer. See this example for
information on how to find this information.
For other valid pseudo-headers, see Additional pseudo-headers
The body of the report
Please include in your report:
- The exact and complete text of any error messages printed or logged. This is very important!
- Exactly what you typed or did to demonstrate the problem.
- A description of the incorrect behavior: exactly what behavior you were expecting, and what you observed. A transcript of an example session is a good way of showing this.
- A suggested fix, or even a patch, if you have one.
- Details of the configuration of the program with the problem. Include the complete text of its configuration files.
- The versions of any packages on which the buggy package depends.
- What kernel version you're using (type
uname -a), your shared C library (type
ls -l /lib/libc.so.6or
dpkg -s libc6 | grep ^Version), and any other details about your Debian system, if it seems appropriate. For example, if you had a problem with a Perl script, you would want to provide the version of the `perl' binary (type
dpkg -s perl | grep ^Version:).
- Appropriate details of the hardware in your system. If you're reporting a problem with a device driver please list all the hardware in your system, as problems are often caused by IRQ and I/O address conflicts.
- If you have reportbug
installed the output of
reportbug -q --template -T none -s none -S normal -b --list-cc none -q <package>will also be useful, as it contains the output of maintainer specific scripts and version information.
Include any detail that seems relevant — you are in very little danger of making your report too long by including too much information. If they are small, please include in your report any files you were using to reproduce the problem. (If they are large, consider making them available on a publicly available website if possible.)
For more advice on how to help the developers solve your problem, please read How to Report Bugs Effectively.
A bug report with header and pseudo-header looks something like this:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com Subject: Hello says `goodbye' Package: hello Version: 1.3-16 When I invoke `hello' without arguments from an ordinary shell prompt it prints `goodbye', rather than the expected `hello, world'. Here is a transcript: $ hello goodbye $ /usr/bin/hello goodbye $ I suggest that the output string, in hello.c, be corrected. I am using Debian GNU/Linux 2.2, kernel 2.2.17-pre-patch-13 and libc6 2.1.3-10.
Sometimes it is necessary to send a copy of a bug report to somewhere
debian-bugs-dist and the package maintainer,
which is where they are normally sent.
You could do this by CC'ing your bug report to the other address(es),
but then the other copies would not have the bug report number put in
Reply-To field and the
When the recipients reply they will probably preserve the
firstname.lastname@example.org entry in the header and have their
message filed as a new bug report. This leads to many duplicated
The right way to do this is to use the
X-Debbugs-CC header. Add a line like this to your
message's mail header:
This will cause the bug tracking system to send a copy of your report
to the address(es) in the
X-Debbugs-CC line as well as to
Avoid sending such copies to the addresses of other bug reports, as
they will be caught by the checks that prevent mail loops. There is
relatively little point in using
X-Debbugs-CC for this
anyway, as the bug number added by that mechanism will just be replaced
by a new one; use an ordinary
CC header instead.
This feature can often be combined usefully with mailing
quiet — see below.
If a report is of a particularly serious bug, or is merely a feature request, you can set the severity level of the bug as you report it. This is not required however, and the package maintainer will assign an appropriate severity level to your report even if you do not (or pick the wrong severity).
To assign a severity level, put a line like this one in the pseudo-header:
Replace <severity> with one of the available severity levels, as described in the advanced documentation.
You can set tags on a bug as you are reporting it. For example, if
you are including a patch with your bug report, you may wish to set the
patch tag. This is not required, however, and the developers
will set tags on your report as and when it is appropriate.
To set tags, put a line like this one in the pseudo-header:
Replace <tags> with one or more of the available tags, as described in the advanced documentation. Separate multiple tags with commas, spaces, or both.
User: <username> Usertags: <usertags>
Replace <usertags> with one or more usertags. Separate multiple tags with commas, spaces, or both. If you specify a <username>, that user's tags will be set. Otherwise, the e-mail address of the sender will be used as the username.
will mark the newly submitted bug as forwarded to email@example.com. See Recording that you have passed on a bug report in the developers' documentation for details.
will indicate that firstname.lastname@example.org is now responsible for fixing this bug. See Changing bug ownership in the developers' documentation for details.
the equivalent of
Package: for bugs present in the source
package of foopackage; for most bugs in most packages you don't want
to use this option.
Control: control commands
Allows for any of the commands which must be sent to
email@example.com to work when sent to
firstname.lastname@example.org. -1 initially refers to the current
bug (that is, the bug created by a mail to submit@ or the bug
messaged with nnn@). Please see the
server control documentation for more information on the
control commands which are valid.
For example, the following pseudoheader in a message sent
Control: retitle -1 this is the title Control: severity -1 normal Control: summary -1 0 Control: forward -1 http://bugs.debian.org/nnn
would cause 12345 to be retitled, its severity changed, summary set, and marked as forwarded.
Finally, if your
doesn't allow you to edit the headers, you can
set the various
X-Debbugs- headers in the
Different submission addresses (minor or mass bug reports)
If a bug report is minor, for example, a documentation typo or a trivial
build problem, please adjust the severity appropriately and send it to
email@example.com instead of
maintonly will forward the report to the package maintainer
only, it won't forward it to the BTS mailing lists.
If you're submitting many reports at once, you should definitely use
firstname.lastname@example.org so that you don't cause too much redundant
traffic on the BTS mailing lists. Before submitting many similar bugs you
may also want to post a summary on
If wish to report a bug to the bug tracking system that's already been
sent to the maintainer, you can use
email@example.com. Bugs sent to
firstname.lastname@example.org will not be forwarded anywhere, only filed.
When you use different submission addresses, the bug tracking system will
Reply-To of any forwarded message so that the replies
will by default be processed in the same way as the original report. That
means that, for example, replies to
maintonly will go to
-email@example.com instead of
@bugs.debian.org, unless of course one overrides this
Normally, the bug tracking system will return an acknowledgement to you
by e-mail when you report a new bug or submit additional information to an
existing bug. If you want to suppress this acknowledgement, include an
X-Debbugs-No-Ack header or pseudoheader in your e-mail
(the contents of this header do not matter). If you report a new bug
with this header, you will need to check the web interface yourself to
find the bug number.
Note that this header will not suppress acknowledgements from the
firstname.lastname@example.org mailserver, since those acknowledgements may
contain error messages which should be read and acted upon.
Spamfighting and missing mail
The bug tracking system implements a rather extensive set of rules
designed to make sure that spam does not make it through the BTS.
While we try to minimize the number of false positives, they do
occur. If you suspect your mail has triggered a false positive, feel
free to contact
email@example.com for assistance.
Another common cause of mail not making it through to the BTS is
utilizing addresses which match procmail's FROM_DAEMON, which
includes mail from addresses like
you suspect your mail matches FROM_DAEMON,
to verify, and then resend the mail using an address which does not
Bug reports against unknown packages
If the bug tracking system doesn't know who the maintainer of the
relevant package is it will forward the report to
debian-bugs-dist even if
maintonly was used.
When sending to
-firstname.lastname@example.org you should make sure that
the bug report is assigned to the right package, by putting a correct
Package at the top of an original submission of a report,
or by using the
email@example.com service to (re)assign the report
reportbug to report a bug in a command, say
grep, the following will automatically select the right package
and let you write the report right away:
reportbug --file $(which
You can also find out which package installed it by using
--search. You can find out which version of a package you have
installed by using
dpkg --list or
$ which apt-get /usr/bin/apt-get $ type apt-get apt-get is /usr/bin/apt-get $ dpkg --search /usr/bin/apt-get apt: /usr/bin/apt-get $ dpkg --list apt Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold | Status=Not/Installed/Config-files/Unpacked/Failed-config/Half-installed |/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad) ||/ Name Version Description +++-==============-==============-============================================ ii apt 0.3.19 Advanced front-end for dpkg $ dpkg --status apt Package: apt Status: install ok installed Priority: standard Section: base Installed-Size: 1391 Maintainer: APT Development Team <firstname.lastname@example.org> Version: 0.3.19 Replaces: deity, libapt-pkg-doc (<< 0.3.7), libapt-pkg-dev (<< 0.3.7) Provides: libapt-pkg2.7 Depends: libapt-pkg2.7, libc6 (>= 2.1.2), libstdc++2.10 Suggests: dpkg-dev Conflicts: deity Description: Advanced front-end for dpkg This is Debian's next generation front-end for the dpkg package manager. It provides the apt-get utility and APT dselect method that provides a simpler, safer way to install and upgrade packages. . APT features complete installation ordering, multiple source capability and several other unique features, see the Users Guide in /usr/doc/apt/guide.text.gz
Other useful commands and packages
The querybts tool, available from the same package as reportbug, provides a convenient text-based interface to the bug tracking system.
Emacs users can also use the debian-bug command provided by the
debian-el package. When called with M-x
debian-bug, it will ask for all necessary information in a
similar way to
Other BTS pages:
- Bug tracking system main contents page.
- Instructions for reporting bugs.
- Accessing the bug tracking system logs.
- Information for developers on the bug tracking system.
- Developers' information on manipulation of bugs using the e-mail control interface.
- Mailservers' reference card.
- Requesting bug reports by e-mail.
Debian BTS administrators <email@example.com>
Debian bug tracking system
Copyright © 1999 Darren O. Benham, 1997, 2003 nCipher Corporation Ltd, 1994-1997 Ian Jackson.