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Code in the base system that is written and maintained by others, and imported into FreeBSD and adapted. Examples include man:clang[1], and man:sendmail[8]. Most bugs in these areas should be reported to the FreeBSD developers; but in some cases they may need to be reported to the original authors instead if the problems are not FreeBSD-specific.
Individual applications that are not in the base system but are instead part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection (category `ports`). Most of these applications are not written by FreeBSD developers; what FreeBSD provides is merely a framework for installing the application. Therefore, only report a problem to the FreeBSD developers when the problem is believed to be FreeBSD-specific; otherwise, report it to the authors of the software.
Then, ascertain whether the problem is timely. There are few things that will annoy a developer more than receiving a problem report about a bug she has already fixed.
If the problem is in the base system, first read the FAQ section on link:{faq}#LATEST-VERSION[FreeBSD versions], if you are not already familiar with the topic. It is not possible for FreeBSD to fix problems in anything other than certain recent branches of the base system, so filing a bug report about an older version will probably only result in a developer advising you to upgrade to a supported version to see if the problem still recurs. The Security Officer team maintains the link:https://www.FreeBSD.org/security/[list of supported versions].
If the problem is in a port, consider filing a bug with the upstream. The FreeBSD Project can not fix all bugs in all software.
A good rule to follow is to always do a background search before submitting a problem report. Maybe the problem has already been reported; maybe it is being discussed on the mailing lists, or recently was; it may even already be fixed in a newer version than what you are running. You should therefore check all the obvious places before submitting your problem report. For FreeBSD, this means:
The FreeBSD link:{faq}[Frequently Asked Questions] (FAQ) list. The FAQ attempts to provide answers for a wide range of questions, such as those concerning link:{faq}#hardware[hardware compatibility], link:{faq}#applications[user applications], and link:{faq}#kernelconfig[kernel configuration].
The link:{handbook}#eresources-mail[mailing lists]-if you are not subscribed, use https://www.FreeBSD.org/search/#mailinglists[the searchable archives] on the FreeBSD web site. If the problem has not been discussed on the lists, you might try posting a message about it and waiting a few days to see if someone can spot something that has been overlooked.
Optionally, the entire web-use your favorite search engine to locate any references to the problem. You may even get hits from archived mailing lists or newsgroups you did not know of or had not thought to search through.
Next, the searchable https://bugs.freebsd.org/bugzilla/query.cgi[FreeBSD PR database] (Bugzilla). Unless the problem is recent or obscure, there is a fair chance it has already been reported.
Most importantly, attempt to see if existing documentation in the source base addresses your problem.
For the base FreeBSD code, you should carefully study the contents of [.filename]#/usr/src/UPDATING# on your system or the latest version at https://cgit.freebsd.org/src/tree/UPDATING[https://cgit.freebsd.org/src/tree/UPDATING]. (This is vital information if you are upgrading from one version to another-especially if you are upgrading to the FreeBSD-CURRENT branch).
However, if the problem is in something that was installed as a part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection, you should refer to [.filename]#/usr/ports/UPDATING# (for individual ports) or [.filename]#/usr/ports/CHANGES# (for changes that affect the entire Ports Collection). https://cgit.freebsd.org/ports/tree/UPDATING[https://cgit.freebsd.org/ports/tree/UPDATING] and https://cgit.freebsd.org/ports/tree/CHANGES[https://cgit.freebsd.org/ports/tree/CHANGES] are also available via cgit.
Writing the Problem Report
Now that you have decided that your issue merits a problem report, and that it is a FreeBSD problem, it is time to write the actual problem report. Before we get into the mechanics of the program used to generate and submit PRs, here are some tips and tricks to help make sure that your PR will be most effective.
Tips and Tricks for Writing a Good Problem Report
_Do not leave the "Summary" line empty._ The PRs go both onto a mailing list that goes all over the world (where the "Summary" is used for the `Subject:` line), but also into a database. Anyone who comes along later and browses the database by synopsis, and finds a PR with a blank subject line, tends just to skip over it. Remember that PRs stay in this database until they are closed by someone; an anonymous one will usually just disappear in the noise.
_Avoid using a weak "Summary" line._ You should not assume that anyone reading your PR has any context for your submission, so the more you provide, the better. For instance, what part of the system does the problem apply to? Do you only see the problem while installing, or while running? To illustrate, instead of `Summary: portupgrade is broken`, see how much more informative this seems: `Summary: port ports-mgmt/portupgrade coredumps on -current`. (In the case of ports, it is especially helpful to have both the category and portname in the "Summary" line.)
_If you have a patch, say so._ A PR with a patch included is much more likely to be looked at than one without. Please set the `patch` Keyword in Bugzilla.