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Bug tracker choices for Emacs.

From: Karl Fogel
Subject: Bug tracker choices for Emacs.
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 2009 00:36:03 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.50 (gnu/linux)

This may be a controversial post.  I'll start out by saying that it is
is *no* way a criticism of Don Armstrong, whose work in setting up
emacsbugs.donarmstrong.com I appreciate very much, as do many others.

When we chose a bug tracker, the criteria were: it must be free
software, and must be manipulable by email.  Debbugs was the only one
that fit the bill, IIRC -- there was some consideration of RT, but it
turned out not all of RT's functionality was available by email.

Since then, another one has appeared: the Launchpad bug tracker,
https://bugs.launchpad.net/.  It is now free software under the GNU
Affero General Public License, along with the rest of Launchpad.

It can be completely operated by email:


(I know developers who interact with it solely by email.)  Also, it has


The APIs can be driven by using the 'launchpadlib' Python library, or
(less commonly) through direct "ReST"-style calls.

So, are we happy with debbugs?  Here are problems that I've found
discourage me from using debbugs:

  - Not really operable via the web -- just read-only operations.
    This is huge.

  - Does not do automatic duplicate-finding when a new bug is submitted.
    Launchpad bugs does, and it's a real gift.  (Actually, from reading
    the documentation, it's not clear to me how to handle duplicates in
    debbugs at all -- there doesn't seem to be a simple way to say
    "Close bug #Y because it's a duplicate of #X".  And the mere fact
    that one has to read the documentation is already a disadvantage.)

  - Interface can be a bit unintuitive ("Toggle useless messages", for
    example; or consider the number of choices one must make before
    doing a simple search).

  - A bit Debian-centric.  See the long list of checkboxes for
    distributions in the search form on the front page, for example.

When we chose debbugs, it was effectively the only choice we had.  It
certainly gets the job done.  But I'd like to know if anyone else is
tempted by the thought of switching our bug tracking to Launchpad.

Launchpad already has code for converting debbugs to Launchpad bugs, and
we could easily leave forwarding pointers.  I don't think conversion
costs would be a huge problem, if we chose to convert.


Full disclosure: I work for Canonical (obvious from my email address),
the company that runs Launchpad.


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