[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Submit bug reports to Debian or upstream project?

Glen Pfeiffer wrote:
> Is it preferable to submit a bug report to Debian or to the 
> upstream project? Assume it is not a Debian only package, like 
> GNOME for example.

This is a judgement call on your part.  If you have good detail about
the problem and are confident that it is actually an upstream bug then
by all means report it upstream.  If you can provide a patch for it
against upstream sources then all the better and the more likely it
will be to be fixed sooner.

For example I use 'mutt' and of course it is mutt from Debian.  I find
a problem.  I grab the latest upstream mutt sources, preferably from
the latest version control, and build and test it.  I verify that the
problem exists in the upstream sources.  I report it upstream.  After
working through the problem with upstream I also report it as a Debian
bug so that it is in the knowledge database there.  When the upstream
version becomes released in Debian the changelog can reflect the
closure of that bug.  It is a great system.

If you don't know and don't have the time and resources to determine
the problem at a detail level enough to know if it is upstream or
downstream then report it to the downstream packager only.  By design
the packager should know more about the project than you do and should
be able to spend the time to sort out the bug reports.  But this is a
huge time drain and anything you can do to help the package maintainer
is a good thing.  (Volunteering time walking through the defect
tracker and verifying, updating, managing bugs is almost always
appreciated.)  But reporting bugs introduced by 3rd party patches is
frequently annoying.

For example, often users running SELinux will frequently have policy
layer problems and will report bugs to an upstream.  But the upstream
does not use SELinux and so the bug is in the patches applied.  The
bug should go to the 3rd party vendor that added those patches.  There
are many examples where 3rd party changes have diverged the behavior
from the upstream.  This can give a distribution a bad reputation with
the upstream if patches are often the source of problems.  Debian
generally keeps fairly close to the upstream but this varies from
package maintainer to package maintainer.  Better to work problems out
with the package maintainer first in those cases.

Another reason to report bugs to the Debian package is if the version
in the upstream is much later than the version in the software
distribution.  For example Debian Stable by design will be stable and
will not change until the next release.  This design brings huge
benefits to users of Debian Stable.  Stable is not the bleeding edge.
Stable is stable!  But it is also a point of contention with some
upstreams (e.g. Mozilla) and upstream will denigrate a distribution
with a stable release when the upstream does not believe in stable
releases.  When the upstream only believes that everyone should use
the beeding edge it is best to report bugs to the package maintainer.

In the end you should use your best judgement.  Think about the
overall problem and try to do the best thing.


Reply to: