Mike Rooney

programming and philosophy

Blogging About Ubuntu Issues

As Ubuntu gets more popular, I am noticing a lot more blogs about Ubuntu (such as this one), including people posting their gripes about the latest release at the time.

One thing that always amused me was how many of these people never filed bug reports about their issues, even if the issues persisted across multiple releases. Another compounding issue (and perhaps the reason these people don’t report the bugs) is that they assume the bug also affects every other user of Ubuntu. However often it just has to do with some nuance of their machine, if not something they explicitly did which would logically cause the issue. Because of these two issues, many people just happily (for lack of a better word) complain about the issue and continue to be shocked that it isn’t fixed, even though they never reported the issue because they assume naturally everyone else is already aware of it.

Blogging about issues is a great way to get them exposure; however, an even better way which has a greater chance of actually getting the issue solved is to find the existing bug report on Launchpad, or create a new one if it hasn’t been filed, and blog about the REPORTS. This allows readers to subscribe to and comment in the bug reports, increasing awareness of the issue for developers instead of just commenting on a random blog.

Since everything is more fun with examples, let me use this ArsGeek article as an example of a pretty decent blog post. It covers the poster’s issues, explains why they are important, and links to some relevant bug reports. Overall, it does a great job of explaining and detailing issues which are already known about in Ubuntu, and bringing information together. However, after researching all of this information, the poster probably could have added some more information to the bug reports, or at the very least subscribed to them. As I mentioned, when people subscribe to bugs it helps the developers get a better idea of how many people the bug is affecting, and who actually cares about it.

It also falls a little short by not reporting new bugs for the issues which weren’t already in Launchpad, such as not being able to add new themes by dragging and dropping URLs. While this is indeed an excellent and very user-friendly way to add themes, would you really expect that developers are adding themes this way? And if not, how would they be aware of the issue? Of course the people experiencing the issues need to make them aware, instead of just getting upset about it.

Luckily the wonderful Colin Watson picked up on the post and filed (some of) the bugs: 252885, 252904, 252907, 252925. If you find these issues important, subscribe to the bug reports, and add any new information if you have any. Remember, if you want to get something accomplished in Ubuntu, Launchpad is your friend!

UPDATE: About 6 hours after Colin filed 252885, a fix was committed upstream for it. This really demonstrates the power of using Launchpad, and the necessity of formally making developers aware of the issues. The article was posted over 2 months ago, and who knows how long the poster was annoyed by this issue. In the end though, all that was needed was a simple bug report in Launchpad, which was fixed in about 6 hours. Incredible!


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