Created: 2012-03-23 19:19
Updated: 2018-06-08 20:51
License: gpl-2.0


Debian Bug-Tracking System

What is Debbugs?

Debbugs is a stable, scaleable bug reporting and issue tracking system. Debbugs has a web interface for viewing and searching issues in the database but unlike other bug tracking systems, Debbugs has no web interface for editing bug reports - all modification is done via email.

The most notable deployment of Debbugs is on the Debian project

System Requirements

  • GNU date
  • GNU gzip
  • Perl 5 (5.005 is known to work)
  • Mailtools and MIME-tools perl modules to manipulate email
  • Lynx 2.7 or later
  • The bug system requires its own mail domain. It comes with code which understands how exim, qmail and sendmail deliver mail for such a domain to a script.
  • A webserver. For the old system of static HTML pages generated for bug reports and index pages, this is easiest if the bug system can write directly to the webspace; for the new system of CGI scripts that generate web pages on the fly, write access is not required.
  • Somewhere to run CGI scripts (unless you don't need the web forms for searching for bugs by number, package, maintainer or submitter).

Where do I get the Source?

Debbugs is managed in git. You can clone the repository into your local workspace as follows:

    git clone

Additional branches are available from:

Installation Instructions

Install the Debian package and read /usr/share/doc/debbugs/README.Debian file.

If you can't use the .deb, do the following:

  1. Clone the repo

    git clone
  2. Create version and spool directory

    mkdir version spool
  3. Optional - Retrieve a partial database of bugs for testing

    1. Get a list of rsync targets from Debbugs

       rsync --list-only rsync://
    2. Grab bugs ending in 00

       mkdir -p splool/db-h/00;
       cd spool/db-h;
       rsync -av rsync:// .;
  4. Optional - Retrieve bts-versions directory for testing purposes

    The database obtained in step 3 requires associated version and index information.

    1. Pull versions directory

       rsync -av rsync:// versions/
    2. Pull index directory

       rsync -av rsync:// index
  5. Configure Debbugs config

    1. Create a config directory for Debbugs

       sudo mkdir /etc/debbugs
    2. Copy sample configuration to config directory

       sudo cp ~/debbugs/scripts/config.debian /etc/debbugs/config
    3. Update the following variables

      • $gConfigDir
      • $gSpoolDir
      • $gIndicesDir
      • $gWebDir
      • $gDocDir

      as follows:

       < $gConfigDir = "/org/"; # directory where this file is
       < $gSpoolDir = "/org/"; # working directory
       < $gIndicesDir = "/org/"; # directory where the indices are
       > $gConfigDir = "/etc/debbugs"; # directory where this file is
       > $gSpoolDir = "/path/to/directory/spool"; # working directory
       > $gIndicesDir = "/path/to/directory/spool/indices"; # directory  where the indices are
       < $gWebDir = "/org/"; # base location of web pages
       < $gDocDir = "/org/"; # location of text doc files
       > $gWebDir = "/path/to/directory/debbugs/html"; # base location of web pages
       > $gDocDir = "/path/to/directory/debbugs/doc"; # location of text doc files
  6. Configure Webserver

    1. Copy example apache config

       sudo cp /path/to/directory/debbugs/examples/apache.conf  /etc/apache2/sites-available/debbugs.conf
    2. Update the directory entries and the DocumentRoot and ScriptAlias variables

       < DocumentRoot /var/lib/debbugs/www/
       > DocumentRoot /path/to/directory/debbugs/html/
       < <Directory /var/lib/debbugs/www>
       > <Directory /path/to/directory/debbugs/html>
       < ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /var/lib/debbugs/www/cgi/
       < <Directory "/var/lib/debbugs/www/cgi/">
       > ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /path/to/directory/debbugs/cgi/
       > <Directory "/path/to/directory/debbugs/cgi/">
    3. Enable required apache mods

       sudo a2enmod rewrite
       sudo a2enmod cgid
    4. Install site

       sudo a2ensite debbugs
    5. Reload apache

       sudo service apache2 reload
  7. Install dependencies

     sudo apt-get install libmailtools-perl ed libmime-tools-perl libio-stringy-perl libmldbm-perl liburi-perl libsoap-lite-perl libcgi-simple-perl libparams-validate-perl libtext-template-perl libsafe-hole-perl libmail-rfc822-address-perl liblist-moreutils-perl libtext-template-perl libfile-libmagic-perl libgravatar-url-perl libwww-perl imagemagick libapache2-mod-perl2
  8. Set up libraries

    1. Create symlinks to link source to their expected locations

       sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/lib/site_perl
       sudo ln -s /path/to/directory/debbugs/Debbugs /usr/local/lib/site_perl/
       sudo mkdir -p /usr/share/debbugs/
       sudo ln -s /path/to/directory/debbugs/templates /usr/share/debbugs/
  9. Create required files

    1. Create files

       touch /etc/debbugs/pseudo-packages.description
       touch /etc/debbugs/Source_maintainers
       touch /etc/debbugs/pseudo-packages.maintainers
       touch /etc/debbugs/Maintainers
       touch /etc/debbugs/Maintainers.override
       mkdir /etc/debbugs/indices
       touch /etc/debbugs/indices/sources
    2. Test

       cd /path/to/directory/debbugs
       perl -c cgi/bugreport.cgi
       REQUEST_METHOD=GET QUERY_STRING="bug=775300" perl cgi/bugreport.cgi; 
  10. Install MTA. See README.mail for details.

Note that each line of /etc/debbugs/Maintainers file needs to be formatted as follows:

package    maintainer name <email@address>

If you need a template, look in /usr/share/doc/debbugs/examples/ directory.

How do I contribute to Debbugs?

Debbugs bugs

Bugs in debbugs are tracked on the Debian bugtracker. The web interface is available at

Start contributing

Make a working branch for your code and check it out to start working:

    git checkout -b example-branch

Stage and commit your changes using appropriate commit messages

    git add example-file

    git commit -m "Created an example file to demonstrate basic git commands."

Submitting a Patch

Submitting a patch can be done using git format-patch.

For example

    git format-patch origin/master

Creates .patch files for all commits since the branch diverged from master.

Debbugs bugs are tracked using debbugs (what else). Patches should therefore be attached to the bug report for the issue. This can be done by emailing the .patch files to (where xxxx is the bug number).

Feature patches can also be emailed to the maintaining list at Debugs mailing list

Further Information and Assistance




Join the #debbugs channel on


This bug tracking system was developed by Ian Jackson from 1994-1997, with assistance from nCipher Corporation Limited in 1997. nCipher allowed Ian to redistribute modifications he made to the system while working as an employee of nCipher.

Since then, it has been developed by the various administrators of, including Darren Benham, Adam Heath, Josip Rodin, Anthony Towns, and Colin Watson. As in the case of Ian, nCipher allowed Colin to redistribute modifications he made while working as an employee of nCipher.

Copyright and Lack-of-Warranty Notice

  • Copyright 1999 Darren O. Benham
  • Copyright 1994-1997 Ian Jackson
  • Copyright 1997,2003 nCipher Corporation Limited

This bug system is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License.

This program and documentation is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program, or one should be available above; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

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