Towards Excellent Defect Management

Aleix Pol aleixpol at
Thu Sep 16 23:46:33 BST 2021

On Tue, Sep 14, 2021 at 5:23 PM Harald Sitter <sitter at> wrote:
> For many years now I've been unhappy with both the quality and volume
> of crash reports we get for our software. The barrier for crash report
> submissions is incredibly high because we've never really had tech to
> help elevate "insufficient" reports to become sufficient, outside the
> client on which the crash occurred. Out of the very few people that
> might want to report a crash even fewer will get beyond the first set
> of questions from drkonqi, once they've managed they still have to
> fight with their distro for debug symbols and quite possibly lose, and
> even if they win there is a good chance the report will either get a
> "this isn't very useful. install more symbols" comment or get marked
> as dupe. Meanwhile we are spending our days looking at duplicated
> crashes, or finding the right blurb to copy paste to ask for a better
> trace, or try to find out why software crashes that hasn't actually
> crashed for a year because the bug had already been fixed in the
> meantime.
> We are wasting our users' time. We are wasting our time. This waste
> needs to stop.
> The good news is that we have all the technical building blocks to fix
> it today. In fact, it's even getting better in the future still. All
> it takes is a bit of code and a bit of flexibility on our part.
> A while ago I started looking into improving the drkonqi experience.
> Specifically: submitting crash reports into a purpose built crash
> tracking system rather than a bug tracking system. The advantages are
> kind of obvious and ranging from server-side de-duplication to
> server-side retracing. I've spent many afternoons reading up on and
> poking demo instances of every somewhat suitable software I could
> find, and Sentry looks like the best option for what we need. It is
> practically free software as far as we are concerned, scales
> tremendously, has systems for server-side deduplication, server-side
> cross-distro/platform retracing (which might also help with some of
> the open questions of richer tracing for windows and android), data
> scrubbing (what with privacy concerns), client and server-side tags,
> can try to figure out when a crash first appeared if supplied with
> commit data, can track the quality of specific releases, when a given
> crash was fixed, health reports, performance tracking, warning rules,
> health report emails, ... I've been playing with it for a month and
> still find amazing new things!
> One of the best things about Sentry is that it has native support for
> debuginfod, enabling us to get debug symbols directly from
> distributions, solving the entire cross-distro aspect of crash tracing
> in just about the neatest way possible. We get the (incomplete) trace
> with lots of metadata, and Senty then uses the metadata to resolve the
> symbols through the distros' debuginfod instances to give us a
> complete trace.
> Even better: with relatively minor adjustments to drkonqi we could use
> it right now and get immediate advantage of server-side retracing! I
> already have a blob of prototype code for drkonqi that piggybacks
> Sentry submission onto the existing code such that we can have both
> bugzilla and Sentry.
> I am proposing that we roll out a Sentry instance for testing so we
> can see if we want to fully embrace it.
> You can get a general sense of the features at Sentry's demo instance
> Here's a code dump for drkonqi
> HS

+1 makes sense to me, it's exciting to find new ways that people can
help make our software better without a big effort.

I'd say the purpose of our manifesto clause that we need to rely
exclusively on FOSS tools wasn't designed for cases like this one.

Thanks for bringing it up!

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