Bug reporting for Ubuntu Server? WTF?

Patrick Goetz pgoetz at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Feb 12 18:17:47 UTC 2010

I just filed a bug against the 64-bit Karmic (9.10) server edition on 
bugs.launchpad.net and noticed that the process appears to have 
regressed considerably.

First of all, there is no longer any clear indication on the front page 
of bugs.launchpad.net about how one goes about filing a bug, even when 
logged in.  While I understand that developers want people to use apport 
(more on this in a moment) it would be nice to have a simple, brief 
description explaining how to file a bug which does not involve reading 
an entire manual (e.g. "(Read our guide or take a tour)").

But OK, fair enough, go to project home (launchpad.net), and select the 
Ubuntu project.  Now I do see a big label entitled "Report a Bug", 
clicking on which takes me to a lengthy advertisement for Apport.  Um, 
OK, apport is a great idea, but if I could or wanted to use Apport I 
WOULD HAVE DONE SO -- that's why I'm on f'ing bugs.launchpad.net!

The server system I'm filing a bug for doesn't have any X packages 
installed and is in a location far away.  I only access it using ssh, 
hence can't use the graphical interfaces described in the ReportingBugs 

However, I do need to file a bug, so continue to spin my wheels skimming 
over information that is completely irrelevant.  At some point I find:

If you can't file your report from the menu, for example:

     * You're using the Server Edition
     * The application doesn't have the appropriate menu item
     * The application won't start at all
     * Your problem is not related to an application but is an 
infrastructure component, such as the Linux kernel or graphics subsystem

You can still help us by using ubuntu-bug.

Oh really?  Suppose, being a somewhat expert user, I happen to know 
exactly what package I'm filing the bug against, exactly what 
distribution I'm running, and exactly what I want to say in the bug 
report to simplify the process of getting the bug triaged -- how does 
ubuntu-bug help with that?  Some anonymous bug report filed against a 
package which is not actually crashing would appear to be somewhat less 
than helpful.  Of course I could be missing something, but just typing

   ubuntu-bug samba

followed by selecting "Send Report" with 0.0 feedback as to what is 
being sent and with no ability to state what the bug actually is appears 
completely useless to me.

Finally, many pages later I find what I'm looking for:  the new and 
improved way of filing bugs on launchpad.net, by using the link

So what's my gripe now?  How about a field allowing me to specify that 
this bug applies to a *particular* Ubuntu distribution, rather than one 
single textfield and a way to upload an attachment?

One would think that we've learned this lesson by now:  stymying expert 
users in order to simplify the process for neophytes is not the way to 
go about "fixing" linux.  Why not continue to have a decent way for 
people who know what they're doing to file bugs on bugs.launchpad.net 
while ALSO having apport available for people who fear the command line 
more than death?

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