How to report a bug in Debian using reportbug

We strongly recommend that you report bugs in Debian using the reportbug program. To install and start it, simply run:

# aptitude install reportbug
$ 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.

If your problem doesn't relate just to one package but some general Debian service, there are several pseudo-packages or even mailing lists that you can use to relay your message to us instead.

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

You can report bugs in Debian by sending an e-mail to submit@bugs.debian.org with a special format described below. reportbug (see above) will properly format the e-mails for you; please use it!

Headers

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.

Pseudo-headers

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:

Package: <packagename>

Replace <packagename> with the name of the package which has the bug.

The second line of the message should say:

Version: <packageversion>

Replace <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:

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.

An Example Bug Report

A bug report with header and pseudo-header looks something like this:

  To: submit@bugs.debian.org
  From: diligent@testing.linux.org
  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.

Sending copies of bug reports to other addresses

Sometimes it is necessary to send a copy of a bug report to somewhere else besides 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 the Reply-To field and the Subject line. When the recipients reply they will probably preserve the submit@bugs.debian.org entry in the header and have their message filed as a new bug report. This leads to many duplicated reports.

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:

 X-Debbugs-CC: other-list@cosmic.edu

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 debian-bugs-dist.

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.

Additional Pseudoheaders

Severity levels

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:

Severity: <severity>

Replace <severity> with one of the available severity levels, as described in the advanced documentation.

Assigning tags

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:

Tags: <tags>

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.

Setting Forwarded

Forwarded: foo@example.com

will mark the newly submitted bug as forwarded to foo@example.com. See Recording that you have passed on a bug report in the developers' documentation for details.

Claiming ownership

Owner: foo@example.com

will indicate that foo@example.com is now responsible for fixing this bug. See Changing bug ownership in the developers' documentation for details.

Source Package

Source: foopackage

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 Commands

Control: control commands

Allows for any of the commands which must be sent to control@bugs.debian.org to work when sent to submit@bugs.debian.org or nnn@bugs.debian.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 to 12345@bugs.debian.org:

Control: retitle -1 this is the title
Control: severity -1 normal
Control: summary -1 0
Control: forward -1 https://bugs.debian.org/nnn

would cause 12345 to be retitled, its severity changed, summary set, and marked as forwarded.

X-Debbugs- headers

Finally, if your MUA doesn't allow you to edit the headers, you can set the various X-Debbugs- headers in the pseudo-headers.

Additional information

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 maintonly@bugs.debian.org instead of submit@bugs.debian.org. 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 maintonly@bugs.debian.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 debian-bugs-dist.

If wish to report a bug to the bug tracking system that's already been sent to the maintainer, you can use quiet@bugs.debian.org. Bugs sent to quiet@bugs.debian.org will not be forwarded anywhere, only filed.

When you use different submission addresses, the bug tracking system will set the 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 nnn-maintonly@bugs.debian.org instead of nnn@bugs.debian.org, unless of course one overrides this manually.

Acknowledgements

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 control@bugs.debian.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 owner@bugs.debian.org 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 mail@foobar.com. If you suspect your mail matches FROM_DAEMON, see procmailrc(5) to verify, and then resend the mail using an address which does not match FROM_DAEMON.

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 maintonly@bugs.debian.org or nnn-maintonly@bugs.debian.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 control@bugs.debian.org service to (re)assign the report appropriately.

Using dpkg to find the package and version for the report

When using 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 grep)

You can also find out which package installed it by using dpkg --search. You can find out which version of a package you have installed by using dpkg --list or dpkg --status.

For example:

$ 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 <deity@lists.debian.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 reportbug.


Other BTS pages:


Debian BTS administrators <owner@bugs.debian.org>

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