Making Ubuntu bug reports seems to be useless (or pointless)

August 31, 2018

I've mentioned this in passing in a few places, so I might as well say it here: I've mostly given up on making Ubuntu bug reports for the simple reason that doing so seems to be useless. Every so often I'll file one for no particularly strong reason (eg, which I'd actually forgotten I'd filed), but even when I do file a bug I usually don't expect anything. When I say that I don't expect anything, I mean more than I don't expect a response to my bug; I mean that I expect that my bug report will have basically no effect not only on the bug in this Ubuntu LTS version but also on whether or not it's in future ones.

(I'm also much less likely to file bugs that might require me to argue with someone, such as over 18.04's packaging of libreadline.)

It's possible that Ubuntu makes use of bug reports for some internal purposes and so filing them is not technically pointless. But from my perspective as an outsider, filing Ubuntu bugs is certainly useless and to me that makes them pointless as well. There really isn't much more to say about the situation than that. Ubuntu can run its bug tracker however it wants to, and it's not being actively hostile to people submitting bug reports in the way that some environments are. It's just that Ubuntu has created a situation where there's no point in submitting bug reports, so I'm mostly not going to bother.

(Of course, Ubuntu has never been a distribution that did very many bugfix updates. A long time ago I wrote a grumpy entry about this lack of such updates, and nothing has changed since then.)

Many Ubuntu packages are inherited more or less untouched from Debian and Debian is generally reasonably responsive to bug reports. It's potentially worth keeping a Debian system around so you can reproduce bugs and submit them to Debian in the hopes that an update will trickle through to at least the next Ubuntu release (or LTS release, if that's the only Ubuntu version you use). You likely need to use Debian 'testing' for this, since it's generally what Ubuntu draws packages from.

(Our Amanda packaging bug was fixed in Debian, for example.)

PS: Occasionally useful discussions do break out in Ubuntu bug reports between a group of people with the problem who are working together to diagnose it and perhaps come up with fixes; I think I've seen one or two. But the odds are that no bug report that I make will spark such a discussion.

(I might feel more motivated to file bug reports so that other people with the problem could find them if Launchpad's search wasn't basically terrible as far as I've seen. If I want other people to be able to find my reports, I'm probably better off writing up things here on Wandering Thoughts and hoping that search engines index them. That's one reason I've taken to putting exact error messages in entries.)

Written on 31 August 2018.
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Last modified: Fri Aug 31 00:15:03 2018
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