I assume you all know that Ubuntu is based on Debian, and that a lot of the packages available in the repositories are directly “copied” from Debian. Some of this packages, however, have been patched by Ubuntu developers and thus have diverged from those in Debian: such packages have to be merged (i.e., the same changes, if they are still necessary, have to be applied again to each new version of them that gets into Ubuntu). Hence, since a) we are very good people and want Debian to enjoy those patched too, and b) such packages represent an unneeded maintenance overheat, as the same changes have to be applied again and again, it’s obvious that they have to be forwarded to Debian for their inclusion there.

So, why am I writing this? You all know our friend Launchpad, right? Now let’s have a look at Debian’s BTS… One word, intimidating. At least this was what I thought the first time I saw it, so I decided that I would write this post to introduce you to it’s basic use (it doesn’t make much sense, as there’s a big link to the help on the start page, but well… perhaps if you read it here you’ll fell more like reading it… or not :P).

Reporting a bug

How does it work? Just send an e-mail to submit@bugs.debian.org, with the following content:

Package: <package name>
Version: <package version>

<Bug description here>

Easy, isn’t it? The mail subject will be the title for the bug, and the version field can even be omitted if you don’t know it… Now, there’s something more you should know as an Ubuntu user: if you want to recognize a bug as coming from Ubuntu (for example if you are forwarding it from Launchpad), add the two following lines after the package name:

User: ubuntu-devel@lists.ubuntu.com
Usertags: origin-ubuntu hardy

OK. Now this is all. Just send such a mail and after some minutes you will receive a message telling you the bug number it got. If you want to send additional information just mail to <bug number>@bugs.debian.org. You won’t need much time to feel comfortable with it ;).

Searching bugs

Searching for bugs can still be somewhat unfriendly. If you think so, this might help a bit: «sudo aptitude install reportbug-ng». Now look on Applications -> System Tools. Now you are ready to rock on forwarding bugs to Debian!