Bug work

March 26, 2007

So i spend more time (than I normally do) looking at bugs in Ubuntu this weekend. I managed to grab some three people Bill Kukowski, my twin brother Eddie and Jim Campbell who needs to update his blog and tag back Richard still 🙂 . As they are all Ubuntu Chicago’ers, I have been working with them to teach them a few bug triaging techniques, showing them around Launchpad, discussing the appropriate course of action etc. The reason for this is because the Ubuntu community faces a great but serious problem; as the number of users increases rapidly, we just don’t have enough eyes to look at all the bugs we have. Every week we triage more and more, but since the number of reports is growing (I assume exponentially, and I hope it is e^x) we are just over hauled with bug reports. Thats the reason I am trying to get more people doing this kind of work, because if I can help train / get a few more people doing work, and they can get people, we are in business. Just like we try to get one more person to use Ubuntu, and they get more, you get the point. I leave you with a link to one of my new favorite comics Xkcd.

P.S., I hope to start a short series on bug work, next post will be about getting started.


  1. Interesting, your observation that users increasing is matched with a directly related reduction in bug handling capacity.

    I say so, because the old school theory around open source is that the lines between user and developer are blurred, and community size is directly proportional to issue handling capacity. What you are describing here is apparently an inverse relationship.

    I think it is quite clear that the technical depth of the ubuntu community has been sacrificed for breadth and userbase. The best example is perhaps the denigration of RTFM and STFW as examples of bad behavior in favor of spoon feeding; the clear consequences are of course twofold:

    1. More users
    2. Fewer people actually getting any real in-depth appreciation and capability around the technology they are using

    I don’t think the Ubuntu community is geared towards generating truly solid technical superiority and self-sufficiency. I also think that the Debian community is not geared very well to attracting new users. I think both types of capability are in fact mutually exclusive. what you are saying validates the first observation, if I read you correctly.

    And I think it has been obvious for a long time now; I aggregate Planet Debian as well as Planet Ubuntu, and looking at both feeds side by side it’s pretty clear which community has more potential for contributing to free software at a level transcending raking in new users with ease of use and shiny objects.

    Again, as an ex assistant marketing director, I understand that addressing the users is important. But we’re dealing with free technology here and not ice cream waffles. You can get by without people skills (look at Debian, Jörg Schilling, and RMS) but you cannot get by without deep technical experience and capability.

    This written from an Ubuntu machine, for perspective.

  2. Hey Freddy,

    thanks for your excellent bug work! And thanks a lot for spreading the word about it. If you don’t mind, would you please add your series to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BugSquad/Diaries too?

    Thanks a lot,

  3. Well the reason I say that is that we are going to get more duplicate bug reports. Thats a given.

    I think Ubuntu is a bit special in this case, because we have a CD that is so easy, I believe people install it, forget about it and may not need to ever visit a page like Launchpad or the wikipages. Moreover, I know that is the case with people on my campus who are on Ubuntu, they have it up and running and don’t ever have to look back. That neither means that the community is not open to users, nor does it mean that one has to be a brilliant computer scientist to get started, but rather that active interaction with the developer’s community is not necessary to get a system going.

    Right, we are really more interested in expanding users base. Now does that mean you can’t learn the ins and out of a linux system on Ubuntu? No, but neither is it necessary to know the ins and outs of a Linux system to use Ubuntu.

    I suppose it really matters what you define as “getting by?” I would argue that we are not just trying to get by as a Linux distro, but rather to excel and be the #1 OS in the world (numbers matter here as well).

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