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
email@example.com which must include
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.
Subject line will have
: added, and the
Reply-To will be set to include both the submitter of the
report and nnn
- Closing bug reports
- Followup messages
- Severity levels
- Tags for bug reports
- Recording that you have passed on a bug report
- Changing bug ownership
- Incorrectly listed package maintainers
- Reopening, reassigning and manipulating bugs
- Subscribing to bugs
- More-or-less obsolete subject-scanning feature
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. A bug can also be closed by any contributor if the bug is for an orphaned package or if the maintainer of a package has missed closing it. It is very important to mention the version in which the bug was fixed. 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
-firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
-email@example.com instead of
-close is provided as an alias for
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
The bug tracking system will include the submitter's address and the bug
@bugs.debian.org) in the
header after forwarding the bug report. Please note that these are two
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
feature of your mailer unless you intend to edit down the recipients
substantially. In particular, see that you don't send followup messages
Messages can be sent to the following addresses in order to be filed in the bug tracking system:
@bugs.debian.org— such messages are also sent to the package maintainer and forwarded to
debian-bugs-dist, but not to the submitter;
-firstname.lastname@example.org— these are also sent to the submitter and forwarded to
debian-bugs-dist, but not to the package maintainer;
-email@example.com— these are only sent to the package maintainer, not to the submitter or
-firstname.lastname@example.org— these are only filed in the bug tracking system (as are all the above), not sent to anyone else.
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.
The bug system records a severity level with each bug report. This is
normal by default, but can be overridden either by
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
requireddirective), 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.
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:
. 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
- 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
- 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.
- This bug is relevant to the accessibility of the package.
- The package fails to build from source. If the bug is assigned to a source package, that package fails to build. If the bug is assigned to a binary package, the affected source packages fail to build. The tag is applicable to non-standard build environments (e.g. using Build-Depends from experimental), but the severity should be below serious (release critical) in such cases.
- 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.
- 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 (email@example.com) or the release team for advice.
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,
@bugs.debian.org in the
Ask the author to preserve the
-firstname.lastname@example.org 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
@bugs.debian.org as well.
When the bug tracking system gets a message at
-forwarded it will mark the relevant bug as
having been forwarded to the address(es) in the
of the message it gets, if the bug is not already marked as forwarded.
You can also manipulate the
forwarded to information by sending
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
with the control request server.
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
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.
email@example.com for changes to the
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
bug-maint-mailcontrol.txt. A plain text version
can also be obtained by mailing the word
help to the
server at the address above.
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 Debian Package
Tracker. All messages that are received at
@bugs.debian.org, are sent to subscribers.
Subscribing to a bug can be done by sending an email to
-firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 nnn
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
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
email@example.com a subscription message
for bug nnn. The
@ sign must be encoded by changing it
= 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.
Messages that arrive at
Bug#nnn will be treated as
having been sent to nnn
@bugs.debian.org. This is both
for backwards compatibility with mail forwarded from the old
addresses, and to catch followup mail sent to
mistake (for example, by using reply to all recipients).
A similar scheme operates for
which treat mail arriving with a Subject tag as having been sent to
the corresponding nnn-whatever
Messages arriving at plain
done — ie, with no bug report number in the address — and
without a bug number in the Subject will be filed under
kept for a few weeks, but otherwise ignored.
It used to be possible to prevent the bug tracking system from
forwarding anywhere messages it received at
by putting an
X-Debian-PR: quiet line in the actual mail
This header line is now ignored. Instead, send your message to
quiet or nnn
maintonly or nnn
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Debian bug tracking system
Copyright © 1999 Darren O. Benham, 1997, 2003 nCipher Corporation Ltd, 1994-1997 Ian Jackson.