KDE4.3 beta issues

Myriam Schweingruber myriam at kubuntu.org
Fri May 22 00:49:53 BST 2009

Hi all,

On Thu, May 21, 2009 at 20:28, Derek Broughton <derek at pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> Jerry Lapham wrote:
>> On Thursday 21 May 2009 4:53:23 am Myriam Schweingruber wrote:
>>>  Hint: if the automatic
>>> report starts with "no debugging symbols found" the report is useless,
>>> as it wasn't able to track down the error in the code.
>>> Sorry if this seems well know by some of you, but at Kubuntu and KDE
>>> we get tons of useless reports because of lacking debugging symbols,
>>> so I think it's worth mentioning.
>> Does that mean that if an app crashes in an official distribution, we
>> shouldn't send the automatic report if it starts with "no debugging
>> symbols found"?
> I'm sure that's what was meant, but imo it's crazy.

If the crash is really reproducible step by step, then even without
debugging packages installed the report is indeed useful. But it is
useless to attach the debug output. Bad wording from my side, sorry.

> If developers _really_ want to get usable bug reports from
> ordinary users the debug versions of the apps are what should
> be distributed.

I think you get me wrong again: the developers (coders) of a package
ship a tarball of the source code. It is then up to the packagers of
the distributions to compile the source code with the necessary
dependencies. Some compile it with debugging symbols by default, some
don't, but then ship the debug symbols in a separate package which
needs to be installed to produce a valid crash report. You can find
the -dbg packages for all applications of KDE in the Kubuntu
repositories, those are always available.

The main reasons why K/X/Ubuntu and many other distributions do not
install the debug packages by default are:

* The size: some packages actually weight double or sometimes much
more the size with the debugging symbols.
* The speed: debugging symbols are loaded in memory, which will have a
considerable effect on the PC speed if one has less than 1 GB of RAM
and opens many applications. Even with more RAM, try running an
application in gdb (the Gnu debugger) and you will see the drastic
speed drop you will experience.
* The utility: in a stable release, most of the applications are
running pretty well and the debug symbols are very rarely needed.
Also, the -dbg packages are in the repositories and can be installed
in less than a minute if really needed.

> Asking ordinary users to recompile (which is what KDE will do,
> because they don't realize that in most cases we can just download a
> -dbg package) will get zero response, and then the developers close the
> bug for "insufficient information", creating frustration all around.

Well, I can tell you what we usually do (I can only speak for Amarok,
but I am pretty sure most of the KDE applications do the same): when a
crash report comes in that lacks debugging info, we ask for more
information, joining instructions on how to either install the -dbg
packages or on how to compile with the debugging symbols.

It is very common though that we get reports that lack nearly
everything and here are some essentials that are needed in every bug
- Package and exact version
- Distribution and exact version
- Step by step instructions on how to reproduce a bug/crash
- Ideally a valid backtrace

The most common problem is the duplicates: I estimate for every major
bug report we get, we get about 10-20 duplicates. This is partly due
to the complexity of the bug databases like Bugzilla or Launchpad, but
most of the time it's just because the user didn't actually look for
duplicates at all. Also, many users do not run the latest version and
report bugs solved in a more recent release. It is a lot of work to
triage duplicates, believe me, I do this every day.

In general you can estimate that out of a database of 200.000 bugs (a
count we will reach soon on bugs.kde.org, bug #100.000 was reported in
Feb 2005m and the database also contains numerous wishes), <10% are
single reports that are eventually useful to the developers, most are
dupes or incomplete and we never get the feedback we ask for. Now
guess who is frustrated here...

> Not to mention the fact that if an "official" version crashes, there's no
> reason to automatically assume that one compiled with debug symbols will
> crash, or crash in the same place.  It's not the same program.

Wrong again, if it really is a bug, then it will crash in the same
place, assuming that a program compiled with debugging symbols is not
the same as the one without is not true, the source code is not
changed, there are only tracers added that monitor the execution. A
crash in a different location of the code is a different bug.

Regards, Myriam.

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