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Receiving bug reports from your own non-Debian packages

Posted by Steve on Thu 1 Dec 2005 at 13:20

One of the strengths of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system is the centralised Bug Tracking System (BTS). Users are used to reporting bugs, and if you create your own Debian packages you should make it easy for them to report errors in those packages.

The most common method of reporting bugs in the Debian system is to invoke the reportbug tool. This will display a list of open bugs, and allow the user to easily see if their issue has already been reported.

From a users point of view this is nice and simple, requiring just two commands:

apt-get install reportbug
reportbug nameOfPackage

If you distribute your own Debian packages of software it is recommended that you also allow bug reporting to be conducted in this fashion.

Since you cannot use the BTS for your own packages you should instead use a hook to allow your reports to be submitted to you by email.

As an example if you distribute the package "mysoftware" as a Debian binary package (.deb file) you should install the file:

/usr/share/bug/mysoftware/control

This file can will be used as a hook by reportbug and allow the report to be sent to you, rather than the official BTS. (If your package is not in the official Debian archive your report would be silently dropped.). An example would be the following contents:

Send-To: submit-bug@example.com

You may also take advantage of other hooks, for more details please view the file /usr/share/doc/reportbug/README.developers.