Being nice to testers - mandating debug packages

Phillip Susi psusi at
Fri Jan 13 16:20:39 GMT 2006

I've been thinking about this lately myself, but I don't see this being 
of any use at all to testers.  Testers aren't going to get the debug 
symbols and fire up gdb for a debugging session, especially on the 
optimized binaries.  The only place I can see this being used is by a 
developer who asks the tester to send him the core dump, then he will 
need the correct symbols to analyze the core dump.

David Nielsen wrote:
> Hi list
> For a while now I've been using Ubuntu as a development branch tester
> and coming from Fedora the single biggest annoyance with Ubuntu is that
> whereas Fedora offers -debuginfo packages for every single package in
> the supported repos (Core and Extra), Ubuntu does not seem to provide
> this convinent feature as a general rule.
> Instead testers are asked in most cases to recompile the application and
> needed libraries in an almost painfully Gentoo like fasion - although
> easy to manage this takes time and personally all I have to work with is
> a 1600+ Athlon-XP when there's a crasher bug in something big like
> Firefox or Evolution I, personally, tend to try to avoid filing them
> because both those applications take more than an hour to compile.
> The simple advantages of mandating that the build system produce these
> split out -dbg packages would be:
> 1) Easing the testers task by deducing the required effort in filing a
> bug, makes it less intimidating for new bugfilers to get into the trade.
> 2) Simplifying the developers job as they no longer have to offer to
> provide debug builds instead they can just referer to the matching -dbg
> package.
> 3) It would, probably, also save bandwidth as the user would not have to
> apt-get all the development packages and since one forgets to clean
> these out it tends to amount to some considerable amounts of data - -dbg
> packages would probably be lighter on bandwidth on the whole.
> 4) It would save endless amounts of time otherwise wasted on pointless
> compiling.
> 5) It would fix the absolutely braindead behaviour apt-get is displaying
> where it wants to overwrite the debug package you just spend an hour
> compiling.
> 6) The tester would avoid situations where apt-build fails to build the
> package for some reason (this does happen, though rarely).
> The cons to this would be:
> 1) Repo would take up more mirror space - but hey harddrives are cheap
> 2) Buildsystem would take more time
> 3) We would not get the benefits of compiling with -O0 rather than stock
> settings - I believe they are mainly -O2, in terms of optimizations that
> can affect traces. 
> For cases affected adversely by 3, we would have to request the bugfiler
> to recompile as is the current standard but I'm currently unsure how
> many cases this is really required and if it's enough of a blocker to
> continue the current fasion.
> Given that this is testing a development release, I would see no issue
> with actually forcing the install of matching -dbg packages once the
> development branch is opened. As long as the cycle start off with a
> warning that Ubuntu will be slower and take up more space this way but
> it eases development and testing. The debug symbols would of course be
> removed late in the development cycle in preparation for the release.
> Kind regards
> David Nielsen

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