Blog Post

The good, the bad, and the ugly

After working on some bugs, testing Alpha 5, and playing around with the new Alpha 5 CDs in Windows Vista, I ran across quite a few things that could be listed as “The good, the bad, and the ugly.” So lets start off with the good.

The Good
Wubi. Wubi is a new addition to the desktop CDs that allows you to easily install Kubuntu (and the other *buntus) from within Windows. I was skeptical to say the least, but decided to go ahead and give it a shot in Vista. What Wubi does is it creates a virtual drive, similar to what you would see with VirtualBox or VMware, and installs Kubuntu in your Windows partition. The good is that it doesn’t mess with Windows, doesn’t require you to repartition your drive, and can be done by anyone, even your great-great-grandma with ease. The nice thing is that if you get sick of having Kubuntu installed, which we know you won’t, you can uninstall it just like you would any other application in Windows. Now that was impressive. Oh, and you have access to your Windows partition too, I just couldn’t access what would be “My Documents” I guess. Oh, and read the Ugly below, Wubi is in there too unfortunately.

Another good thing I have seen today is the amount of people involved in the 5-A-Day stuff is increasing, and the amount of work is insane! Great job to everyone involved!

The Bad
Going through Launchpad today I became annoyed by a couple of things, some deal with Launchpad directly and some deal with the bug reports I have been coming across. For Launchpad, searching through the bugs doesn’t pick up on any of the Apport traces that are attached, heck it doesn’t even pick up on anything attached to the bug reports. This makes it kind of a pain when trying to search for duplicates. Oh, and duplicates, there are a lot! Tracking them down though by going through each report and reading the attached crash traces is very time consuming and annoying.

Another thing that I got annoyed by were bug reports that simply had no more information than “Program X Crashed.” Hey, I (we) would love to help you get that fixed, but how did it crash, what were you doing when it crashed, what versions of everything are you running, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Gnome, KDE, Xfce, what? Try and add as much information as you can to these bug reports, as it helps us help you. Otherwise you will get some people coming through, setting the bug as Invalid or Incomplete, and never hearing anymore on it. When you get a nice crash report and file the bug, as you should, comment on the bug and tell us exactly what you were doing when it crashed. The crash reports are great, but it makes it difficult for us to try and reproduce the crash. Take a bit of time when filing a bug report, take 15 or so minutes and make sure there isn’t already a report for the same exact thing.

And for those of you triaging bugs and setting yourself as the Assignee, don’t just comment, set to invalid, add yourself to the report, go ahead and do some work on the bug. I am used to going through various bug tracking systems, and when I see someone assigned to a bug report, I pass it on by thinking they are doing work. I found bugs from 2 and even 3 years ago with someone assigned that hasn’t done anything on LP since they assigned themselves to a bug report. All of the reports I went through today and yesterday where I assigned it to myself, pretty much everyone who filed the bug commented, allowing the process of getting the bugs fixed. I know there are quite a few bugs that I have already fixed release in the past 24 hours because we were able to communicate back and forth. I see a lot of reports where a triager commented or asked a question, the person who created the report replied, but there was no follow up after that except for a lone gunman who comes in and says “Hey! I am closing this report since there hasn’t been activity on it in over a year.”

One more thing, make sure you assign the bug to the correct package. All of the crash traces people are putting into the bug reports tell you which package it is. I have seen some that said “Package: X-this” yet it gets filed against package Y.

The Ugly
KLauncher crash reports. KNotify isn’t any better. Both of these are elements of the new KDE 4 system. I must be one of the lucky ones or something, because I don’t see the majority of these bugs at all. It seems a majority of these bugs are from those of you who have both the Gnome desktop installed as well as the KDE 4 desktop. I was expecting a little of this, but not the amounts I have been seeing. It seems like every time I work on 15 of these reports, there are already 15 new ones. Insane!

The really ugly though goes to Wubi that I put up in the good. However, with this little mention, we can probably move this portion of Wubi up to the bad section. When you go through the installation in Windows, you eject the CD and you restart. Then right as Windows starts, you get the Windows version of Grub asking you if you want to boot into Windows or Kubuntu. The first time through, when you select Kubuntu, you will see at least these 2 things. The first is this:

There was an error setting up inter-process communications for KDE. The message returned by the system was:
 
Authentication Rejected. reason: None of the authentication protocols specified are supported and host-based authentication failed
 
Please check that the "dcopserver" program is running!

No big deal, click OK and move on. Well after you click OK, you have no idea if you are going on or you are locked up. You see a black screen with the X mouse cursor. You can see your hard drive working overtime, but nothing else happening. Read my lips, DO NOT PRESS THE RESET BUTTON! Let it go through, eventually the screen will flash and you will see that what was happening, is it was installing Kubuntu. Whew, I was joking about this on IRC and almost gave up. Thankfully I didn’t, as after the reboot, Kubuntu was working just great, even if it did say on boot up ‘Filesystem: LTFS.’ That was kind of funny, but all worked out.

So you Wubi devs, great work by the way, but document Wubi a tad bit better, or you Ubuntu people who decided on this, lets tweak up some documentation so we don’t have baffled users staring at a black screen with the X cursor. Better yet, have some sort of pop-up or something that tells the user, “HEY! Don’t do anything until it tells you to, we are installing Kubuntu for ya, just hold on to your shorts!”

</the good, the bad, and the ugly>

A cool thing I learned today, the ‘Thumbnail Aside’ composite feature in KDE 4 and watching videos in a small little box. If you use this feature, make sure under the composite settings, click the advanced button and set the top check box to keep thumbnails updated. One of my reports I worked on, the reporter told me how he has streaming videos on one of his workspaces, but it shows up in the ‘Thumbnail Aside’ box in the bottom right hands side of the desktop when enabled. That is pretty cool!

Great job everyone squashing bugs and creating some coolness for us geeks to enjoy!

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  • Murat Güneş

    It should no longer be necessary to assign bugs to ourselves when triaging. AFAIK this was required when LP had no feature to track down bugs related to a specific person. I removed this from the triaging instructions a while ago [1] with notice. It can be changed back if needed; what do you think?

    [1] https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-bugsquad/2008-January/000734.html

  • I always had the feeling that if you assign yourself, that means you are the one who is going to do the work to fix the bug. That is the way it is on every other bug tracker out there, so I am with you on not having it in the instructions. Great job though on those instructions!

  • dave

    Regarding the crashes with no info, I feel it’s really not clear to end users if they should file those or not. After the crash happens (at least the last time I dealt with this) they seem to be encouraged to do something but then it drops you into a halfway completed bug. If you actually struggle through, someone will close the bug because you’ve not provided enough information, or ask you to run debug builds or whatever. That’s fine if you’re trying to be part of the community, but if you’re just following a dialogue that popped up after a crash then you’re not really the audience for this.

    Ideally there should be 3 options: 1) don’t report, 2) simple report (enter a paragraph of text and press a button, done), 3) full on bug reporting for experts.

  • Hi, I’m a member of the Launchpad Bugs team.

    For Launchpad, searching through the bugs doesn’t pick up on any of the Apport traces that are attached, heck it doesn’t even pick up on anything attached to the bug reports. This makes it kind of a pain when trying to search for duplicates.

    I did a quick search for bugs relating to this and couldn’t find anything, so I filed bug 194930 to register this as something that we should perhaps look into doing.

  • Hobbsee

    Argh. Why aren’t you using bughelper for finding duplicates? It will search bugs for a certain string, for a specific package, which makes dupe finding very simple (assuming you use good strings).

  • Re Wubi and X cursor, there is a clear note under “Caveats” in the Hardy 5 wiki page.

    http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/hardy/alpha5#head-e2e103d58e482a75134c06f268e9982e6c3bacde

    Will be fixed soon anyway.

  • At first I couldn’t figure out quite what the thumbnail effect was for, but then I played around with it for a bit and also discovered that it is really neat for watching video. In particular, I use it for watching TV so I can mute and minimize the program but still see when the commercials end.

    Unfortunately it is really difficult to put a significant amount of personal attention into each bug when there are so many. If we had enough people to actually go through the bugs, triagers would feel less pressured to cover more bugs over putting more actual work into not as many bugs…

  • @dave: I like your idea with the 3 options, I might actually look into that and see how feasible something like that would be to implement. But you are right, there are a lot of people coming from the Windows world that have no idea what a bug is or haven’t ever filed one, that is why I like to stay as personable as possible with them and provide them with a little bit of hand holding if needed. What I am seeing is people with high bug karma on LP, those who have filed many bugs or helped triage many bugs, with some fairly poor reporting standards. There is also the tendency for the language barrier to also creep in from time to time, but thankfully Google helps me out there every now and then 🙂

    @Graham: Thanks for that! I feel you should be able to easily search through the attachments as well.

    @Hobbsee: I use bughelper, but bughelper doesn’t grab every attachment from what I can tell, it only searches the crash reports uploaded by Apport, which is fine for a majority of the time, but there are a lot of people who are just saving copied text into a file and attaching it as well. What I have seen is that bughelper isn’t looking through those files.

    @Agostino: thanks for that link! Great job on Wubi btw, I was very skeptical at first with it, but after using it, I have to say it is a great idea and a great product thus far, especially since it is considered Alpha from what I have read. Great job and keep up the great work!

    @Yuriy: Don’t know if I really feel pressured, but I do get to the point sometimes that I question what should really be done with the bug.

    One thing I will add, is that these past couple of days, pretty much every bug I have worked on, people have been very gracious and quick in their responses and we are working towards fixing their problems. I think a lot of people can become skeptical of the entire bug process, especially when they file a bug 3 years ago and nobody responds. Another thing I am seeing, which I don’t know if I agree with, is a copy and pasted generic response that says something like “thank you for your report and contributing to ubuntu…blah blah blah” but I am not seeing any follow up after that.

    It isn’t just Ubuntu and LP either, I think I get more annoyed by the lack of responses I see with our upstream partners in crime. I have found some bugs on bugs.kde.org that are still open since 2002, that is insane. If you aren’t going to fix it, or aren’t even going to be bothered with it, then say so, at least let them know that a developer is looking into the problem.

  • Evan

    I just committed the fix for the Wubi issue. It wont be on the daily live CDs until we release a new ubiquity, however.

  • @Evan: You da man! Wubi is rockin’! I had 6 people at the uni today finally give Ubuntu/Kubuntu a shot because they didn’t have to worry about resizing partitions. Wubi is going to be great for this exact use case. Very exciting!

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