Guidelines and HOWTOs/Bug triaging
KDE bug triagers verify that Bugzilla tickets describe real bugs, are accurate and reproducible and that the reporter has given enough information. The goal is to save developers from doing this work, which helps them fix bugs more quickly and do more work on their software
You do not need any programming knowledge to be a bug triager, but experience has shown that members of this team often learn a lot in the course of dealing with bug reports, and many moves on to developing the software itself. If you are just starting to learn programming, it's a great way to gain familiarity with the components and give practical support to the KDE community.
- 1 Getting started
- 2 General Considerations
- 3 Trying to reproduce the bugs
- 4 Get permission to work on the bug tracker
- 5 Getting Started: Find what to work on (Different Approaches)
- 6 Workflow of the bug triaging activity
- 7 Handling reports: What to do with a bug report
- 7.1 Identifying duplicates
- 7.2 Bugs caused by external issues (UPSTREAM/DOWNSTREAM)
- 7.3 Check the report quality (and ask for missing information)
- 7.4 Setting Bugzilla fields (and reassignation)
- 7.5 Adding related people to the CC list
- 7.6 Other Situations and Cases
- 8 Getting bug triaging support
- 9 More Information
The sheer number of open bugs can be overwhelming at the start. Here are some hints on getting started more smoothly:
- Look at a single product at a time. For large applications (like Konqueror), you may want to further limit your search to a particular component.
- Don't try to find duplicates early on. Finding duplicates is hard until you have become familiar with the bugs in a component. Start out with verifying UNCONFIRMED bugs as described above. That's valuable work, and a great way to familiarize yourself with the bug database.
- Avoid very old bugs with many comments, and also bugs with many votes. This may seem counter-intuitive, but in most cases these bugs are hard, have gotten a lot of attention, and are probably on a developer's TODO list already. If it is from an older version of KDE, and there are no recent comments, verify them, make a notation, and move on.
- Don't be afraid to ask the reporter for more info. It's something you can even do without Bugzilla permissions. And reporters will generally prefer being asked one question too many, instead of their report never being dealt with. Just remember to be polite. Ask yourself how you would feel if you got the message you are thinking about sending to a user.
- Look at the incoming Bugzilla bugs. Or find the oldest bugs for your favorite software application.
- Look through the rest of our documentation for more information!
- Be polite: when you need to request information or feedback be clear and polite and you will get more information in less time. Often Bugzilla is a place which involves discussions (about implementations or even about contributors). Try to be concise and polite, respecting the other's position while describing your own.
- Don't try to do too many things at the same time - you will end up with a headache!
- If you are not familiar with the Bugzilla (KDE bug tracker system) interface, you may find this guide useful: Quick Introduction to Bugzilla
- You may want to properly setup your Bugzilla account as mentioned at Configure your account
Trying to reproduce the bugs
An important step of bug triaging is trying to reproduce the bugs. This means that you use the information provided by the reporter and try to make the bug manifest in your own system.
You may want to use this reference text to setup your testing environment: Preparing a testing environment
How to test bug reproducibility
- Read the complete bug report (including all the attached information). Note that some bits of information may look unrelated, but they might be useful
- Usually you will try to reproduce the bug based on the description, but sometimes the comments provide updated reproduction steps, so it makes sense to scan them before you start
- If you can reproduce the bug, go to the next step
- If you can't reproduce with any scenario mentioned in the comments, you may want to try combined situations (a bit of the description of the original bug, plus a bit of the second one). Hopefully, you will find a combination that reproduces the bug reliably. Note down the newly found steps to reproduce so you can Include them in your comment
- Now that we have a result, we need to add our information/conclusions to the bug report
|When faced with a report containing scattered pieces of information, try to identify a *common situation* (some data or context that is present in all (or most of) the cases). This kind of data may be the key to finding out the reproduction steps.|
Adding new information (and requesting feedback)
- In any case, add the versions of your KDE components and your system information. Other kinds of configuration data might also be useful: "did you test it on a clean environment or in your existing configuration?" "do you have library X installed and updated ?" "is your system 32- or 64-bit ?"
If you could reproduce the bug:
- If you had to combine several steps to make your own "recipe" to reproduce, write them down. This kind of information is useful for the developers.
- If you had to use custom input data (text, or a file), you may want to attach it to the bug report
A template for a comment in this situation could be:
I can reproduce the bug here using KDE Frameworks x.y.z, Qt a.b.c on Distribution, XX-bit Kernel d.e.f. In order to reproduce I have to perform the following actions: 1. Action 1 2. Action 2 3. Action 3 4. Bug Appears Note that you need to have the X configuration set to Y, and use the Z library. Can anyone else confirm this?
If you could not reproduce the bug:
- Write down the steps you performed to try to see the bug
- You may want to ask, if your steps missed something, or if anyone notices any other strange (or non-default) situation or configuration which may be related
- Also, if the report is several months old, you could try to ask the reporter if they can reproduce the bug in the latest stable KDE components releases or trunk (development version). The bug may be fixed already (but no one mentioned it in the bug report). If a comment indicates that the bug is resolved, close the bug as WORKSFORME, and refer to the comment in which the reporter indicated being unable to reproduce.
A template for a comment in this situation could be:
I couldn't reproduce the bug here using KDE Frameworks x.y.z, Qt a.b.c on Distribution, XX-bit Kernel d.e.f. I tried performing these actions: 1. Action 1 2. Action 2 or 1a. Action 1a 2a Action 2a However, the bug didn't appear/the application didn't crash Are you all using library X and this configuration? Can you still reproduce this bug with updated KDE Frameworks?
Hopefully, you will get feedback from the reporters and you could gather more information to try to reproduce the bug or close the report as WORKSFORME (or FIXED).
Get permission to work on the bug tracker
Manpower is always needed in a bug tracker, but as any action taken on it may be potentially destructive to other people's work or it may mess things up (and consume the developers' or other triager's time) the tracker requires special permissions to perform changes in the fields of bug reports.
If you want to be able to change the field data in bug reports, you need to prove that you know what you are doing. Some examples of this proof are prior helpful comments and triaging action on KDE bugs, prior experience triaging bugs in a professional setting. To request access, ask in the #kde-bugs IRC channel.
Getting Started: Find what to work on (Different Approaches)
You could use different techniques or approaches to triage the reports according to your current mood or the amount of work you want to do for example.
|The two following techniques are complementary.|
Check all the bug reports of the day
In this technique, you check all the bug reports (of all the products) which were filed today (or some days ago).
You can focus on crash, normal or wishlist reports individually (recommended) or all of them together.
- You get a complete view of all the reports
- You can easily recognize possible duplicates if the report titles are appropriate
- You can choose any report
- You can quickly clean the bugs that were filed recently (keeping them from rotting)
- You can get quick feedback from the reporter
Not so Good:
- You don't focus on one product
- You may not pay too much attention to every report, as you are triaging different kinds of reports
- You need a lot of attention to handle the different reports (at the ~same~ time)
- All the bugs (any type) reported today or the last week
- All the crashes reported today or the last week
- All the normal bugs reported today or the last week
- All the feature requests reported today or the last week
Check bug reports of a single product over a period of time
Choose a product (application or library). Then choose a period of time like 1 month or 1 or 2 years (or "from the beginning of the current year", or even from the very beginning (like 2000)).
This technique is useful to audit old bugs or perform a deep clean (in case the bugs weren't triaged on a daily basis previously).
- You focus only on one product / topic, so you don't need to pay too much attention
Not so Good:
- The reports of the other applications may rot if they aren't checked
- You may not get feedback if the report is too old or the reporter is not accessible anymore
You can also filter out results (and be even more focused) if you select a custom component inside the product (a subsection of the application).
- Template search for all the reports of any status, since 2008: any kind of report, crashes, normal bugs, feature requests
- Template search for all the open reports, since 2008: any kind of report, crashes, normal bugs, feature requests
Workflow of the bug triaging activity
Now that you have a list of bug reports, pick one and start working.
Handling reports: What to do with a bug report
There are several things that must be checked and "fixed" to make an initial bug report an interesting and useful piece of information for the developers to check.
As KDE has so many users, we get a lot of reports about bugs which are already reported (duplicates). Before putting any effort in the current report we should check for an existing report.
Please see the article on identifying duplicates.
Bugs caused by external issues (UPSTREAM/DOWNSTREAM)
Check if the bug is caused by an external plugin/add-on or distribution issue
There are several bugs which may be caused by external add-ons. If you are sure this is the case, you should dismiss the report, telling the reporter to file a new bug in a different place.
- Applications which use plugins may be easier to affect (like Plasma when using custom Plasmoids/widgets)
Distributions can also bring some trouble, especially with packaging.
Some problems that may cause bugs are:
- different versions of KDE packages (kdelibs at one version, kdebase at a different one)
- missing plugins (broken packaging) causing crashes or missing features.
Also, distributions can include their own add-ons (to bring their own branding or any other special function). If you know KDE software enough you may be able to recognize these unofficial add-ons.
If the reporter mentions an application or dialog you cannot identify, you could try requesting a screenshot. Other people may be able to recognize an external add-on.
Check the report quality (and ask for missing information)
Now that you know that the bug report is unique and that it is not an external issue, you need to check that all the needed information is there.
- Check that report is in English and that is easily understandable.
- If it is not in English you may want to look for someone in the KDE group (IRC channels) that may translate it for you. Alternatively, you can ask the reporter to use some online translation system (you won't get a clear explanation, but it is something).
- If the explanation is not clear enough and you think that the bug could be described in an image, you may want to ask for a screenshot
- If the bug is a graphical glitch or issue, you may want to request a screenshot
- If the issue involves any other component (like the graphics card or drivers), you may need to ask for the versions and component names
- If the bug report is about a crash and the backtrace information is not really complete (and you couldn't perform a duplicate search) you need to ask the user to install the missing debug symbols package, reproduce the bug and generate a new backtrace. Template for this request:
If you can reproduce the crash at will (or you experience this regularly), can you install the "PACKAGENAME" package and post a complete backtrace here? (you can get more information at http://techbase.kde.org/User:DarioAndres/Basic_Guide_about_Crash_Reporting) Thanks
The names of the missing packages depend on the application and the distribution (as package naming schemes change). Look at the list of debug package names in several Distributions at the end of this article.
Useful information which could be also missing:
- Application version
- KDE Frameworks version
- Qt library version
- If the reporter is using a development version, request the Git or SVN revision of the KDE Frameworks and application
Setting Bugzilla fields (and reassignation)
Often the bug reports aren't properly categorized, or they miss some information in the Bugzilla fields (which are useful for sorting and filtering):
- Version: if the report has an application version, you need to set the version in the Bugzilla field. Ideally the version field should reflect the latest version the bug is reproducible with, and of course the other information in the bug (backtrace, description) should also reflect that same version. In the process of triaging old bug reports the version field is a good indicator of a bug that needs newer information.
- If the version is missing in the list, please contact the software maintainer or the KDE Bugzilla admins to add the version in the system.
- Priority: we don't use this field in the KDE bug tracker. The priority is used by the developers to organize their work, it should stay at normal and only be changed by the developers of the project.
- Severity: If you are not really sure if a report describes a real bug or a feature or if you cannot diagnose the issue, you need to ask in the support channels or wait for other triagers or developers to check the report.
- some hints about the various severity options:
- Critical: The software causes you to lose data.
- Grave: The software is basically unusable now.
- Major: A major feature is broken.
- Crash: The software crashes or hangs.
- Normal: It's a bug that should be fixed.
- Minor: Minor loss of function and there is an easy workaround.
- Wishlist: Request for a new feature or enhancement.
- some hints about the various severity options:
- Platform: this field is only important if the bug is related to one distribution or a specific system (most of the bug reports are common to most of the platforms). Same with the OS field
Renaming a report: Updating the summary
Most of the time the reporter sets the bug report's summary and therefore it might not accurately represent the bug. You may want to update the summary to contain enough information to identify the issue properly.
A good summary may contain:
- A brief explanation of the root cause (if it was found)
- Some of the symptoms people are experiencing
- Additional comments in brackets/parentheses
|Try to use complete and easily readable English sentences as the summary|
- If the bug is about a crash, you may add the first useful ClassName::FunctionName pairs that identify it. You can put them inside square brackets at the end of the title
- If the report has additional information (like a testcase file, or an attached proposed patch) you may add those references as tags at the start of the summary (inside square brackets)
[patch] Plasma clock draws garbage when hovering it if the Ctrl key is pressed
Dolphin hangs when trying to view the properties of a big file
[testcase file] Plasma crashes when adding a special file to the panel [Class1::Function1, Class1::Function2, Class2::Function3]
Applications that use Plasma themes crash when compositing is switched on/off due an error in KPixmapCache [KPixmapCache::Private::mmapFile, KPixmapCache::Private::init, KPixmapCache::discard]
[testcase url] Konqueror shows a graphical artefact in webpage's form when scrolling
Reassigning bug reports
Some of the reports are assigned to the wrong product. This may happen because the original reporter didn't know which application/library the bug belongs to. It may happen if the Crash Handler dialog reports a crash about an unsupported application (or one that is not mapped properly)
- Select the correct Bugzilla product.
- If you are sure the current assignee is the default for the current product, you need to click the checkbox to reset the assignee (so the assignee of the new Bugzilla product will get notified)
- Save the changes
- In the next page, select the correct Component and Version and save the changes
Sometimes the reports describe general issues or are filed against common Bugzilla products (like "kde" or "kdelibs"). Conversely, they might be filed against specific products, but the underling root cause is in some specific library, not directly related to the current Bugzilla product assignee.
In both cases, if we don't need/want to reassign the report, we can add the assignee of the other related products, or other developer's mail address, to the CC list of the bug report. This person (or people following a mailing list) will then get notified about this bug report and they might look at it.
To know who to add to the CC list you can:
- Look at the list of Bugzilla products and components and find the current default assignee (this requires special "editcomponents" permissions)
- Look at the copyright of the source code related to the bug. You can always access the code using WebSVN
- Ask in the IRC support channels, if anyone knows which person is related to a specific KDE area (#kde-devel)
Common situation examples:
- A report against "Dolphin" describes a Baloo-related error.
- Add the Baloo default assignee to the CC list
- A report against "Plasma" describes an error which seems to be more general (at kdelibs level), but you are not really sure if you should reassign it.
- Do not reassign and add "kdelibs-bugs___at___kde___dot___org" to the CC list
- A report against the "kde" Bugzilla product describes a Konqueror-related issue (and you are not sure it is a Konqueror-only issue)
- Do not reassign and add "konq-bugs___at___kde___dot___org" to the CC list
- A report against the "kde" Bugzilla product describes a Plasma issue
- Reassign the report to the "plasma" Bugzilla product; or
- Add "plasma-bugs___at___kde___dot___org" to the CC list
Other Situations and Cases
One report per issue
There is a policy in the KDE bug tracker which establishes that different issues should not be mixed up in the same report, in order to keep the database clean and easy to read.
If any user adds information which is unrelated to the current bug report, gently tell them to write it down in a different/new report. The new issue described may be already reported somewhere else. In that case, you need to include a reference to that bug report ID.
Getting bug triaging support
During your work, you may need help on how to proceed. You can use these resources to get help:
- The #kde-bugs channel on IRC (Freenode.net). You can ask the whole channel.
- The BugSquad mailing list <bugsquad ##at## kde ##dot## org>
Special products and cases
- "systemsettings" contain bug reports for the Shell application SystemSettings and kcmshell4 and reports for the configuration modules "kcm_*"
- Try to find out, if the report is about the shell applications (and set the component to "general", "treeview" or "kcmshell") or about some of the configuration modules (and set the component to "kcm_*name*")
- Konqueror can use different engines, like KHTML or WebKit
- If the report is about a webkit-only issue, reassign to product "kdelibs", component "kdewebkit"
|When updating the Bugzilla product or component, do not forget to reset to the default assignee|
- BugSquad page on Techbase
- Quick introduction to Bugzilla
- Dario_Andres blog about bug triaging
- A Bug's Life Cycle
- Preparing a testing environment
- How to create useful crash reports
- Basic guide about crash reports
- aseigo's suggestions for bugs.kde.org
- Testcase: custom file that triggers a bug in the application. A testcase can also be a custom code snippet or a set of steps.