Monday, December 15, 2008

End of Year Bugbusting

As often proves to be the case, I recently found an old problem report from 2005 asking for exactly the same feature I recently became interested in. While my first patch was out for review, I spent some time looking through the open problem reports to find other issues I could address while waiting for a review on the first item.

A blog post by Greg Stein today pointed out the importance of dealing with user issues better than any graphs ever could. Greg's post includes a link to this USENET post from Larry Page in 1996 asking for help for his Java based web crawler. I don't know what kind of responses he received to that query, but I can take a guess that the responses were relevant to the technical decisions made about the language of choice used for the early Google search infrastructure.

How many Fortune 500 companies make a major platform decision based on the help they receive from open source mailing lists or problem reports each year? This may be impossible to quantify, but I'm willing to bet that its more common than we might think. This is something to keep in mind before summarily closing a problem report just because it doesn't include a patch or is otherwise imperfect in some way.


Mark Linimon said...

My observations about old PRs: when we poll people about them, the responses vary by category. Issues with booting and installing (in kern/) are often no longer relevant due to the submitter no longer having the hardware, or having switched to some other OS. In about 20% of the cases, the problems are confirmed to still persist. For problems in the bin/ category, more often than not the problems persist; apparently we have more people working on kernel/driver issues than on userland issues.

Ports issues are handled more efficiently due to the auto-assigner (which relies on the concept of 'maintainer' of individual entries).

We've been able to do much more work on classifying existing PRs, and new ones as they come in, because a number of new people have volunteered as 'bugbusters'. So, the contents of the database are in better shape than they've been in for quite some time.

Murray said...

Mark - thanks for all the great work you guys do with bugbusting. Interesting data points about old PRs.