Re: Linux 2.6.21

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Sun Apr 29 2007 - 12:08:55 EST

On Sun, 29 Apr 2007, Andi Kleen wrote:
> Linus Torvalds <torvalds@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> writes:
> >
> > The thing is, bugzilla is totally broken because it's designed to help
> > track bugs, but it's *not* designed to actually handle the much harder
> > problem, which is to actually get the *right* developers to be aware
> > of the *right* bugs!
> This means we need people who figure out who to assign bugs too.
> Aka bugmasters.

Yes. But not using bugzilla.

I don't know if you've noticed already, but I'm not the only one that
doesn't have a very high opinon of bugzilla ;)

What works is somebody who is a bugmaster, and it doesn't really matter
*what* bug tracker he points to (bugzilla being one of the possibilities,
although not necessarily the best, and absolutely NOT the only choice),
and turn them into emails. Once they are emails, bugzilla can track them.

Andrew does this, and yes, Adrian did it.

> In theory it could be nearly automated. Figure out what files related
> to the bug and assign to the last 5 people who submitted patches
> for them and/or signed off.

I do think you're pretty optimistic. I think it's true for trivial driver
bugs, but even for trivial driver bugs the initial report is often not
enough to pinpoint the driver.

Let's take the sis900 bug as an example (not because I want to rag on that
being a problem, but it happened to be a _trivial_ bug in 2.6.21, so it's
a good case of something really really easy - and if that easy case isn't
handled trivially and obviously, then the bug-reporting doesn't work).

In that case, the initial report was (condensed version, but fairly
accurate): "system hangs on boot at random points. 2.6.21-rc7 worked

Now, realistically, if that entry had been in bugzilla, what would you do?

Equally realistically, let's ignore bugzilla for a moment, and ask what
the best method for handling something like this would be? Have an open
mind, no rules on "have to use bug tracker XYZ".

You know what? The report went to me and the kernel mailing list as email.
And that was the *right* thing in that case. There was no good sign of who
it should go to, and while there wasn't a whole lot of information there,
there *was* a very tight timeframe (ie it could pinpoint to within about a
week when it started). But the only thing I could really ask for was for
the person to bisect it.

Would bugzilla have helped? HELL NO. It would have been a disaster. It
would have wasted reporter time, it would have wasted developer time, and
it would likely have been ignored because the bug report wasn't specific
enough to really trigger any good queries or trigger a maintainer.

So bugzilla wouldn't have helped even for a _trivial_ bug.

I personally suspect that bugzilla helps more if a bug actually has a real
history, and people want to actually save that history because they are
stumped. But I think it should come in *then*, not immediately. Because it
is actually too intrustive for the simple stuff - and most bugs actually
are simple, it's just that they also get resolved so simply that people
don't even think of them as bugs (ie we have a lot of "duh" kind of fixes

> BTW one big problem in our current bugzilla is that a lot of people
> cannot reassign bugs they don't own. I sometimes see bugs that I don't
> own bug I know who is responsible, but bugzilla doesn't allow me to do it.

I think that's a problem, but I think the thing that I react to most (and
I know some other people do too) is that I just don't want a broken mousy
interface that I have to explicitly go and look at. I'd much rather get
involved by email once it's clear that I need to be involved. Having a
link to "more information at xyz" (where xyz _can_ be bugzilla too, but
doesn't have to be!) is fine, but but it really cannot be the first
interface, not in the current form, at least.

> So I think what would help:
> - Ask more people to just categorize and reassign bugs (anybody interested?)
> - Give more people in bugzilla the power to reassign arbitary bugs
> (bugzilla maintainers would need to do that)

I think both of these are good ideas, but I don't think it's enough. There
must be some better form of bug tracking than bugzilla. Some relly
distributed way of letting people work together, *without* having to
congregate on some central web-site kind of thing. A "git for bugs", where
you can track bugs locally and without a web interface.

And I think it would be something much closer to "distributed email mbox
with status tracking facilities", _not_ a web clicky interface.

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