How to report a bug

Important things to note before sending

Please don't report multiple unrelated bugs - especially ones in different packages - in a single bug report. It makes our lives much easier if you send separate reports.

You should check if your bug report has already been filed by someone else before submitting it. Lists of currently outstanding bugs are available on the World Wide Web and elsewhere - see other documents for details. You can submit your comments to an existing bug report #<number> by sending e-mail to <number>

If you'd like to send a copy of your bug report to additional recipients, you shouldn't use the usual e-mail headers, but a different method, described below.

Sending the bug report via e-mail

Send mail to submit at, as described below.

Of course, like with any email, you should include a clear, descriptive Subject line in your main mail header. The subject you give will be used as the initial bug title in the tracking system, so please try to make it informative!

You need to put a pseudo-header at the start of the body of the message. That means that the first line of the message body should say:

Package: <something>

Replace <something> with the name of the package which has the bug.

The second line of the message should say:

Version: <something>

Replace <something> with the version of the package. Please don't include any text here other than the version itself, as the bug tracking system relies on this field to work out which releases are affected by the bug.

You need to supply a correct Package line in the pseudo-header in order for the bug tracking system to deliver the message to the package's maintainer.

The pseudo-header fields should start at the very start of their lines.

Please include in your report:

Include any detail that seems relevant - you are in very little danger of making your report too long by including too much information. If they are small please include in your report any files you were using to reproduce the problem (uuencoding them if they may contain odd characters etc.).


A bug report, with mail header, looks something like this:

  Subject: Hello says `goodbye'

  Package: hello
  Version: 1.3-16

  When I invoke `hello' without arguments from an ordinary shell
  prompt it prints `goodbye', rather than the expected `hello, world'.
  Here is a transcript:


  I suggest that the output string, in hello.c, be corrected.

  I am using Debian GNU/Linux 2.2, kernel 2.2.17-pre-patch-13
  and libc6 2.1.3-10.

Sending copies of bug reports to other addresses

Sometimes it is necessary to send a copy of a bug report to somewhere else besides the package maintainer, which is where they are normally sent.

You could do this by CC'ing your bug report to the other address(es), but then the other copies would not have the bug report number put in the Reply-To field and the Subject line. When the recipients reply they may end up creating a new report by mistake.

The right way to do this is to use the X-Debbugs-CC header. Add a line like this to your message's mail header (or to the pseudo header with the Package field):

This will cause the bug tracking system to send a copy of your report to the address(es) in the X-Debbugs-CC line as well as to the package maintainer.

Avoid sending such copies to the addresses of other bug reports, as they will be caught by the checks that prevent mail loops. There is relatively little point in using X-Debbugs-CC for this anyway, as the bug number added by that mechanism will just be replaced by a new one; use an ordinary CC header instead.

This feature can often be combined usefully with mailing quiet - see below.

Severity levels

If a report is of a particularly serious bug, or is merely a feature request that, you can set the severity level of the bug as you report it. This is not required, however, and the developers will assign an appropriate severity level to your report if you do not.

To assign a severity level, put a line like this one in the pseudo-header:

Severity: <severity>

Replace <severity> with one of the available severity levels, as described in the developers' documentation.

Assigning tags

You can set tags on a bug as you are reporting it. For example, if you are including a patch with your bug report, you may wish to set the patch tag. This is not required, and the developers will set tags on your report as and when it is appropriate.

To set tags, put a line like this one in the pseudo-header:

Tags: <tags>

Replace <tags> with one or more of the available tags, as described in the developers' documentation. Separate multiple tags with commas, spaces, or both.

User: <username>
Usertags: <usertags>

Replace <usertags> with one or more usertags. Separate multiple tags with commas, spaces, or both. If you specify a username, that users tags will be set. Otherwise, the email address of the sender will be used as the username

Not forwarding to the maintainer

If you send your initial report to quiet at, the system will not forward it anywhere at all but only file it as a bug (useful if, for example, you are submitting many similar bugs and want to post only a summary).

If you do this the bug system will set the Reply-To of any forwarded message so that replies will by default be processed in the same way as the original report.


Normally, the bug system will return an acknowledgement to you by e-mail when you report a new bug or submit additional information to an existing bug. If you want to suppress this acknowledgement, include an X-Debbugs-No-Ack header in your e-mail (the contents of this header do not matter; it can be in the mail header or in the pseudo-header with the Package field). If you report a new bug with this header, you will need to check the web interface yourself to find the bug number.

Note that this header will not suppress acknowledgements from the control at mailserver, since those acknowledgements may contain error messages which should be read and acted upon.

bug reports against unknown packages

If the bug tracking system doesn't know who the maintainer of the relevant package is it'll forward the report to the help-debbugs mailing list.

Other pages:

Last modified: Thu, 31 Dec 2009 15:56:38 UTC

Debian bug tracking system
Copyright (C) 1999 Darren O. Benham, 1997 nCipher Corporation Ltd, 1994-97 Ian Jackson.