FOSS needs a central bug tracker

Mark markg85 at
Mon Apr 20 22:39:47 UTC 2009


I was just reading the latest distrowatch weekly and there was an
interesting article posted there about a centralized bug tracking
system for all of foss including all of the foss operating systems
(fedora, ubuntu, mandriva.. you get the idea).
I personally find this idea very interesting and am very tempted to
put in a lot of time to get all parties together and talking about a
idea like this (top 10 major foss distributions for now i think) to
see if it would have any support in the highest ranking foss
distributions. without those this idea just might not get of the
ground so easily.

I am aware of the gigantic amount of work that will need to go into
this project but for now that's not the case, yet, for now i'm only
asking fedora and redhat (mainly the developers and leaders but i'm
interested in everyone's opinion) to read the text below (copy/paste
from DistroWatch) and then please explain if you see anything (or
nothing) in this idea? will you support it or not? do you like it? or
is it just something that needs to be forgotten as soon as possible?

Also if your an redhat employee or a fedora comuinity member helping
develop fedora please mention that in your reply. It's not always
obvious from the email address you send the reply from.

Again, don't bother (much) about the resources, time and people that
this project is going to take. That stage is way to early right now.
For now it's only asking fedora/redhat how they would act on a idea
like this.
Here is the text from DistroWatch:

FOSS needs a central bug tracker (by Jesse Smith)

It happened again today. I was using one of my favorite applications
when a familiar bug popped up its head and brought my work to a
screeching halt. Determined to rid all of humankind of this pest, I
went to the Help menu and selected "Report A Bug". Seconds later, I
was on the project's bug tracking web page. Seconds after that, I
determined that the only way for me to report this bug (to the
upstream project) was to create yet another bug tracking account.

Usually I consider myself among the lucky; I generally use Linux and
generally use one distro. Reporting bugs is relatively easy in that I
just need the one bug-tracking account with one vendor. However, there
are days, dark days, when I'm required to use other operating systems
with no central bug-tracking system. This becomes a problem after a
while. Sure, it takes very little time to set up one bug-tracking
account with one open source project. But when a person uses dozens of
open source applications across multiple operating systems, the amount
of time and the number of username/password combinations grow at an
alarming rate. As I mentioned, I usually live a sheltered, one-distro
life, but what agony distro hoppers must go through, setting up a
bug-tracking account for each and every Linux distribution they test
drive! And for those people on other operating systems, imagine
opening bug tracking accounts for GIMP,, Firefox,
FileZilla, etc, etc, in an effort to get one's voice heard!

Bug-tracking software is a wonderful tool and I applaud any software
project that uses one, but therein lies the problem: so many software
projects have this software and they all operate separately. Fedora
has one tracker, Debian another, Ubuntu another; and there are
thousands of upstream projects, many with their own trackers.

Now, let us think for a moment about these thousands of bug tracking
systems and consider the amount of duplicated effort. Not just in the
repeated bug reports when someone reports a problem to Slackware and
another person reports it to Fedora and another to Ubuntu, but also in
the effort of setting up these thousands of databases. We're talking a
lot of man/woman/admin hours, here!

I think it would be a good idea to see a grouping of this talent and
data into one place. Consider this: a project such as Debian is
already a hub for reporting bugs and making feature requests for over
20,000 open source projects. In fact, as an open source developer, I
often check the Debian bug tracker to see if anything has been
reported against my projects. Wouldn't it be reasonable if we took
this a step further and brought all of the various distributions' bug
trackers under one system? Imagine if you found a problem in any open
source project on any operating system and could report it in one
place. Just one bug tracking account for each user and developer! When
application XYZ crashes, I could go to, for example, and report the issue, regardless of whether I'm
running a flavor of Linux, OS X or BSD. While the initial setup would
be a large effort, the reduction in duplicated work over the long term
would be fantastic. Also, it would lower the barrier to getting those
pesky bugs reported by users who don't wish to register yet another

An all-in-one solution would also benefit the developers of open
source software. As I mentioned previously, I maintain a few small,
open source applications, which are packaged for various Linux
distributions and BSDs. Though I certainly don't fault the busy
package maintainers, problems and patches are very rarely forwarded
from the distributions to our upstream developers. To try to fix
everything in the upstream source, we (myself and other developers)
have had to go to each distro we know of which maintains a package of
our software and search their issue tracker for our package name. This
is tedious work. Imagine how much easier it would be to find and
integrate patches if a developer had to simply search one large issue

I would very much like to see an open source supporter, such as Red
Hat, Canonical or Mozilla, for example, implement a large, inclusive
issue tracker. While a large investment up front, the benefits to open
source users, developers and package maintainers would be a great boon
to the community. There is some precedent for this. As mentioned
before, distributions, such as Debian, track issues for thousands of
packages. On a similar vein, web sites such as SourceForge and Google
Code already provide open source projects with a central location to
save, present and contribute. A central bug tracker could work much
the same way, providing open source developers and users with one
location to report and work on problems.

The greatest hurdle I see to adopting a central system is that people
tend to stick with what they have. For a mega issue tracker to really
be effective, most of the smaller, single-project and
distribution-specific trackers would probably have to be phased out.
People would have to be encouraged to adopt the single location
method. As an alternative, perhaps the central tracker could be set up
in such a way that it would pull issues from other sources.
Distributions and upstream projects might see the benefit of having
their trouble tickets uploaded to a central location where everyone
could see them. This would also centralize issue tracking, without the
problems of forcing people to use The One method. Change is often
difficult, especially when we're looking at so many people spread out
over the world. However, I think something needs to be done; we have
hundreds of distributions and thousands of open source projects.
Encouraging users to maintain separate accounts for each one is
cumbersome and inefficient for everyone.

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