Archive for December, 2006

"install debug packages! now!"

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

still thinking of how to get better and faster feedback (and less useless reports – thanks to fer for rejecting empty stacktraces in bug-buddy), we’re still closing way too many needinfo bugs as incomplete.

one idea: stock responses providing direct info which debug packages to install on a per-app basis (more feedback welcome).

also, there was a nice comment to my last blog entry by a reader named Yo Baby:
when installing community distros, add a

"Thank you for installing $YOUR_FAVORITE_DISTRO!
If you like to help making GNOME better and have enough free diskspace, 
we kindly ask you to install additional debug packages that make finding 
the cause of bugs and fixing them easier and faster after reporting them.
Installing those debug packages will approximately add $WHATEVER MB to your system."

and add a *direct* option to install them.

i assume that vendors would be interested in better quality, less crashers, and happy users?

so is this doable, at least for ubuntu/fedora/suse? is this a good idea at all, or should i just go to sleep now? :-)
(and do i have to poke folks directly to get this done instead of getting a “nice idea, would be cool to get this done by somebody, but not me” response?)

ubuntu 7.04, fedora 7, suse 10.3, where are you?

lots of bad stacktraces.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

taking a look at the weekly bugzilla summary, we see that the applications with the most bug reports filed per week are nautilus, evolution, totem and epiphany.
many of those crasher reports will be set to needinfo state, because the stacktraces will not contain enough information. okay, that’s life. but it’s bad for everyone, the developers, the vendors, the users, and the general reputation of gnome.

now, how to get faster and easier-to-provide information from a non-techie user? how to lower that barrier?

currently, the user will get a stock response which asks him to visit a webpage.
some users will think “hey, i’ve already helped them by filing my bug report, instead of cancelling. i’m not in the mood to spend additional time by reading through a webpage.”
the rest of the users will perhaps visit that GettingTraces wiki page (which was already rewritten by Elijah and split up to a Details page, to not demotivate the user by letting him read through hundreds of lines of uninteresting and techie stuff).
on that wiki page, we ask the user to install additional debugging information packages, and link to the DistroSpecificInstructions.
now, how many users think that this is getting complicated now, reading another webpage?
looking at that DistroSpecificInstructions page, we still cannot/do not tell the user which packages to install *exactly*, he has to find out on his own. being a non-techie user, would you be motivated to spend 15 minutes to do that?
i seriously doubt.

at least for those applications with the highest load, we should already provide an explicit stock answer explaining which packages to install (product specific debug packages plus the basic gnome stuff like gtk, glib, gnome-vfs and libgnome), so one does not have to visit a webpage anymore after reading the bugzilla mail. perhaps we also need to find a generic description *how* to install additional software packages, as i don’t expect every user to have already installed any additional stuff on his computer (“hey, it just worked out of the box, why should i have changed something/installed something?”).

perhaps, we should also add explicit information for the apps that get many reports with useless stacktraces, like EOG (137 needinfo bugs in the last 2 weeks, mostly totally empty stacktraces like this one), control-center (37 needinfo bugs in the last 2 weeks, mostly crashes in the sound component all looking like this one), yelp, or the gsearchtool of gnome-utils like this one.

dear developers of EOG, control-center, yelp and gnome-utils – which additional packages do you need to get better traces?
i’d be happy to get some feedback here (ak-47 at gmx dot net). or, did i miss any apps that also suffer from lots of reports with useless stacktraces?
thanks in advance for any feedback!