Introduction to the bug system request server

There is a mailserver which can send the bug reports and indices as plain text on request.

To use it you send a mail message to The Subject of the message is ignored, except for generating the Subject of the reply.

The body you send should be a series of commands, one per line. You'll receive a reply which looks like a transcript of your message being interpreted, with a response to each command. No notifications are sent to anyone for the commands listed here and the mail isn't logged anywhere publicly available.

Any text on a line starting with a hash sign # is ignored; the server will stop processing when it finds a line with a control terminator ( quit, thank you, or two hyphens are common examples). It will also stop if it encounters too many unrecognised or badly-formatted commands. If no commands are successfully handled it will send the help text for the server.

Commands available

send bugnumber
send-detail bugnumber
Requests the transcript for the bug report in question. send-detail sends all of the boring messages in the transcript as well, such as the various auto-acks.
index [full]
index-summary by-package
index-summary by-number
Request the full index (with full details, and including done and forwarded reports), or the summary sorted by package or by number, respectively.
Requests the index page giving the list of maintainers with bugs (open and recently-closed) in the tracking system.
index maint maintainer
Requests the index pages of bugs in the system for the maintainer maintainer. The search term is an exact match. The bug index will be sent in a separate message.
Requests the index page giving the list of packages with bugs (open and recently-closed) in the tracking system.
index packages package
Requests the index pages of bugs in the system for the package package. The search term is an exact match. The bug index will be sent in a separate message.
getinfo filename

Request a file containing information about package(s) and or maintainer(s) - the files available are:

The unified list of packages' maintainers, as used by the tracking system. This is derived from information in the Packages files, override files and pseudo-packages files.
Information about the priorities and sections of packages and overriding values for the maintainers. This information is used by the process which generates the Packages files in the FTP archive. Information is available for each of the main distribution trees available, by their codewords.
List of descriptions and maintainers respectively for pseudo-packages.
Requests that the mailservers' reference card be sent in plain ASCII.
user address
Sets address to be the user of all usertag commands that follow.
usertag bugnumber [ + | - | = ] tag [ tag ... ]
Allows to define tags on a per-user basis. The usertag command works just like the regular tag command, except that you get to make up whatever tags you like. By default, the address in the From: or Reply-To: header of your mail will be used to set the user of the usertag.
usercategory category-name [ [hidden] ]

Adds, updates or removes a usercategory. By default the user category is visible, if the optional argument [hidden] is specified then it will not be visible, but still be available to be referenced from other user category definitions.

This command is somewhat special, as when adding or updating a user category it requires a body following immediately after the command. If the body is empty the user category will get removed instead. The body is composed of lines starting with any number of spaces. Each category should start with a line with *, and optionally it can be followed by several selection lines starting with +. The complete format is as follows:

* category-name-1
* Category Title 2 [ [selection-prefix] ]
 + Selection Title 1 [ [ order: ] selection-1 ]
 + Selection Title 2 [ [ order: ] selection-2 ]
 + Default Selection Title [ [ order: ] ]
* category-name-3

The category-names appearing in the command and in the body are used to make references between them, to avoid unnecessary inlining. The Category Titles are used in the package report summary.

The optional selection-prefix is prefixed to every selection on each entry in the category section. The first selection which matches gets the bug shown under it. The optional order parameter specifies the position when showing the selected entries, this is useful when using a match that selects a superset of the previous ones but that needs to be shown before them.

The category-name normal has the special meaning of being the default view, so by replacing it with a different user category for the user one can change the default classification for a package.

Example usage:

    usercategory dpkg-program [hidden]
     * Program
       + dpkg-deb [tag=dpkg-deb]
       + dpkg-query [tag=dpkg-query]
       + dselect [package=dselect]

    usercategory new-status [hidden]
     * Status [pending=]
       + Outstanding with Patch Available [0:pending+tag=patch]
       + Outstanding and Confirmed [1:pending+tag=confirmed]
       + Outstanding and More Information Needed [pending+tag=moreinfo]
       + Outstanding and Forwarded [pending+tag=forwarded]
       + Outstanding but Will Not Fix [pending+tag=wontfix]
       + Outstanding and Unclassified [2:pending]
       + From other Branch [absent]
       + Pending Upload [pending-fixed]
       + Fixed in NMU [fixed]
       + Resolved [done]
       + Unknown Pending Status []

    # Change default view
    usercategory normal
      * new-status
      * severity

    usercategory old-normal
      * status
      * severity
      * classification
Requests that this help document be sent by email in plain ASCII.
thank you
Stops processing at this point of the message. After this you may include any text you like, and it will be ignored. You can use this to include longer comments than are suitable for #, for example for the benefit of human readers of your message (reading it via the tracking system logs or due to a CC or BCC).
One-line comment. The # must be at the start of the line.
debug level
Sets the debugging level to level, which should be a nonnegative integer. 0 is no debugging; 1 is usually sufficient. The debugging output appears in the transcript. It is not likely to be useful to general users of the bug system.

There is a reference card for the mailservers, available via the WWW, in bug-mailserver-refcard.txt or by email using the refcard command (see above).

If you wish to manipulate bug reports you should use the address, which understands a superset of the commands listed above. This is described in another document, available on the WWW, in the file bug-maint-mailcontrol.txt, or by sending help to

In case you are reading this as a plain text file or via email: an HTML version is available via the bug system main contents page

Other BTS pages:

Debian BTS administrators <>

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