Tracking Bugs in Bazaar

This document describes the bug-tracking processes for developing Bazaar itself. Bugs in Bazaar are recorded in Launchpad.

See also:


Anyone involved with Bazaar is welcome to contribute to managing our bug reports. Edit boldly: try to help users out, assess importance or improve the bug description or status. Other people will see the bugs: it’s better to have 20 of them processed and later change the status of a couple than to leave them lie.

When you file a bug as a Bazaar developer or active user, if you feel confident in doing so, make an assessment of status and importance at the time you file it, rather than leaving it for someone else. It’s more efficient to change the importance if someone else feel’s it’s higher or lower, than to have someone else edit all bugs.

It’s more useful to actually ship bug fixes than to garden the bug database. It’s more useful to take one bug through to a shipped fix than to partially investigate ten bugs. You don’t get credit for a bug until the fix is shipped in a release. Users like getting a response to their report, but they generally care more about getting bugs fixed.

The aim of investigating bugs before starting concentrated work on them is therefore only to:

  • determine if they are critical or high priority (and should displace existing work)
  • garden sufficiently to keep the database usable: meaningful summaries, and duplicates removed

It’s OK to fix some bugs that just annoy you, even if they’re not rationally high.

You can use --fixes lp:12345678 when committing to associate the commit with a particular bug.

If there are multiple bugs with related fixes, putting “[master]” in the title of one of them helps find it

It’s often fastest to find bugs just using the regular Google search engine, rather than Launchpad’s search.

Martin Pitt says:

One of the things you should not do often is to start asking
questions/for more debug info and then forget about the bug. It’s just
a waste of the reporter’s and your time, and will create frustration
on the reporter side.


The suggested priorities for bug work are:

  1. Fix critical bugs.
  2. Get existing fixes through review and landed.
  3. Fix bugs that are already in progress.
  4. Look at bugs already assigned to you, and either start them, or change your mind and unassign them.
  5. Take new bugs from the top of the stack.
  6. Triage new bugs.

It’s not strict and of course there is personal discretion but our work should be biased to the top of this hierarchy.

Clear Bugs

Bugs should have clear edges, so that you can make a clear statement about whether a bug is fixed or not. (Sometimes reality is complicated, but aim for each bug to be clear.)

Bugs on documentation, performance, or UI are fine as long as they’re clear bugs.

Examples of good bugs:

  • “ValueError in frob_foo when committing changed symlink” - although there may be many possible things that could cause a ValueError there, you should at least know when you’ve fixed the problem described in this bug.
  • “Unclear message about incompatible repositories” - even though the user may not agree the new message is sufficiently clear, at least you know when you’ve tried to fix it.

Examples of bad bugs:

  • “Commit is too slow” - how fast is fast enough to close it? “Commit reads the working tree twice” is clearer.

Bug Status

The bug has just been filed and hasn’t been examined by a developer yet.

The bug requires more information from the reporter to make progress.

Only set this state if it’s impossible or uneconomical to make progress on the bug without that information. The bug will expire if it remains in this state for two months.

The bug report has been seen by a developer and we agree it’s a bug. You don’t have to reproduce the bug to mark it Confirmed. (Generally it’s not a good idea for a developer to spend time reproducing the bug until they’re going to work on it.)
We don’t use this status. If it is set, it means the same as Confirmed.
In Progress

Someone has started working on this. We can deliver the value of the work already done by finishing and shipping the fix.

The bug keeps this state from the time someone does non-trivial analysis, until the fix is merged to a release or trunk branch (when it is Fix Released), or until they give up on it (back to New or Confirmed) or decide it is Invalid or Incomplete.

Won’t Fix
The behaviour complained about is intentional and we won’t fix it. Needless to say, be thoughtful before using this status, and consider if the user experience can be improved in some other way.
The reporter was confused, and this is not actually a bug. Again, be sensitive in explaining this to the user.
Fix Committed
Don’t use this. If set on old bug, it probably means In Progress, with the fix waiting for review. See Launchpad bug 163694.
Fix Released

The fix for this bug is now in the bzr branch that this task is for. The branch for the default task on a bug is

We use this value even though the fix may not have been been included in a release yet because all the developer activity around it is complete and we want to both avoid bug spam when releases happen, and keep the list of bugs that developers see when they look at the bug tracker trimmed to those that require action.

When setting a bug task to fix released, the bug target milestone should be set to the release the fix will be included in (or was included in, if you are updating an old bug). Don’t spend too much time updating this if you don’t immediately know: its not critical that it be set.

Bug Importance

This is a serious bug that could cause data loss, stop bzr being usable in an important case, or represents a regression in something previously working. We should fix critical bugs before doing other work, or seriously consider whether the bug is really critical or whether the other change is more urgent.
This is a bug that can seriously interfere with people’s use of Bazaar. We should seriously consider fixing these bugs before working on new features.
A regular bug. We’d like to fix them, but there may be a long delay.
Something suboptimal that may affect an unimportant case or have a fairly easy workaround.
These will basically never get done.

Bugs rated Medium or lower are unlikely to get fixed unless they either pique the interest of a developer or are escalated due eg to many users being affected.

Not every existing bug is correctly rated according to this scale, and we don’t always follow this process, but we’d like to do it more. But remember, fixing bugs is more helpful than gardening them.


Assigning a bug to yourself, or someone else, indicates a real intention to work on that bug soon.

Targetting Bugs

It’s possible to target a bug to a milestone, eg <>. We use this to help the release manager know what must be merged to make the release.

Therefore, we don’t target bugs that we’d like to have fixed or that could be fixed in a particular release, we only target bugs that must be fixed and that will cause us to slip the release if they’re not fixed. At any time, very few if any of the bugs targeted to a release should be still open. By definition, these bugs should normally be Critical priority.


Sometimes we’ll want to make a special point-release update (eg 1.15.1) off an already-released branch including a fix for a particular bug. To represent this, create a new bug task (ie link in the status table on the bug page) by clicking the poorly-named “Target to Release” link. Target it to the appropriate series (ie 1.15). If the bug should also prevent any point releases of that series then you should also target the new task to the appropriate milestone within that release. (See Targeting Bugs above)

This bug task then has a separate status and importance to indicate the separate work to get it into that release.

The News File

Most bugs that are fixed should be mentioned in a NEWS file entry, including the bug number. (Exceptions might be bugs that are not at all user visible.)


Here are some bug tags we use. In Malone tags are currently of limited use, so don’t feel obliged to tag bugs unless you’re finding it useful.

authenticating to servers
candidate for backporting to an update of the previous release
should be possible to finish in an hour or two
bugs about the High-Performance Smart Server, i.e. bzr+ssh://, etc.
bugs for causes of VFS methods of the smart server
bugs about interactions with launchpad (typically this means bzrlib.plugins.launchpad).
problems using locales other than English
problems where we use too much memory for some reason
fixing this would need a new disk format
bugs about performance problems.
needs changes to the test framework
virtual filesystem for http, sftp, etc
should be very easy to fix (10-20 minutes) and easily landed: typically just spelling errors and the like
bugs relating to the bzr user interface, e.g. confusing error messages.
bugs that mainly affects Windows. Also there is cygwin and win98 tags for marking specific bugs.

You can see the full list of tags in use at <>. As of September 2008 the list is on the right.

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