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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</filename> on your system or the latest version at <uri xlink:href=""></uri>. (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</filename> (for individual ports) or <filename>/usr/ports/CHANGES</filename> (for changes that affect the entire Ports Collection). <uri xlink:href=""></uri> and <uri xlink:href=""></uri> are also available via svnweb.
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
<emphasis>Do not leave the <quote>Summary</quote> line empty.</emphasis> The PRs go both onto a mailing list that goes all over the world (where the <quote>Summary</quote> is used for the <literal>Subject:</literal> 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.
<emphasis>Avoid using a weak <quote>Summary</quote> line.</emphasis> 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 <literal>Summary: portupgrade is broken</literal>, see how much more informative this seems: <literal>Summary: port ports-mgmt/portupgrade coredumps on -current</literal>. (In the case of ports, it is especially helpful to have both the category and portname in the <quote>Summary</quote> line.)
<emphasis>If you have a patch, say so.</emphasis> A PR with a patch included is much more likely to be looked at than one without. Please set the <literal>patch</literal> Keyword in Bugzilla.
<emphasis>If you are a maintainer, say so.</emphasis> If you are maintaining a part of the source code (for instance, an existing port), you definitely should set the <quote>Class</quote> of your PR to <literal>maintainer-update</literal>. This way any committer that handles your PR will not have to check.
<emphasis>Be specific.</emphasis> The more information you supply about what problem you are having, the better your chance of getting a response.
Include the version of FreeBSD you are running (there is a place to put that, see below) and on which architecture. You should include whether you are running from a release (e.g., from a <acronym>CD-ROM</acronym> or download), or from a system maintained by Subversion (and, if so, what revision number you are at). If you are tracking the FreeBSD-CURRENT branch, that is the very first thing someone will ask, because fixes (especially for high-profile problems) tend to get committed very quickly, and FreeBSD-CURRENT users are expected to keep up.
Include which global options you have specified in your <filename>make.conf</filename>, <filename>src.conf</filename>, and <filename>src-env.conf</filename>. Given the infinite number of options, not every combination may be fully supported.
If the problem can be reproduced easily, include information that will help a developer to reproduce it themselves. If a problem can be demonstrated with specific input then include an example of that input if possible, and include both the actual and the expected output. If this data is large or cannot be made public, then do try to create a minimal file that exhibits the same issue and that can be included within the PR.
If this is a kernel problem, then be prepared to supply the following information. (You do not have to include these by default, which only tends to fill up the database, but you should include excerpts that you think might be relevant):
your kernel configuration (including which hardware devices you have installed)
whether or not you have debugging options enabled (such as <literal>WITNESS</literal>), and if so, whether the problem persists when you change the sense of that option
the full text of any backtrace, panic or other console output, or entries in <filename>/var/log/messages</filename>, if any were generated
the output of <command>pciconf -l</command> and relevant parts of your <command>dmesg</command> output if your problem relates to a specific piece of hardware
the fact that you have read <filename>src/UPDATING</filename> and that your problem is not listed there (someone is guaranteed to ask)
whether or not you can run any other kernel as a fallback (this is to rule out hardware-related issues such as failing disks and overheating CPUs, which can masquerade as kernel problems)
If this is a ports problem, then be prepared to supply the following information. (You do not have to include these by default, which only tends to fill up the database, but you should include excerpts that you think might be relevant):
which ports you have installed
any environment variables that override the defaults in <filename></filename>, such as <varname>PORTSDIR</varname>
the fact that you have read <filename>ports/UPDATING</filename> and that your problem is not listed there (someone is guaranteed to ask)
<emphasis>Avoid vague requests for features.</emphasis> PRs of the form <quote>someone should really implement something that does so-and-so</quote> are less likely to get results than very specific requests. Remember, the source is available to everyone, so if you want a feature, the best way to ensure it being included is to get to work! Also consider the fact that many things like this would make a better topic for discussion on <literal>freebsd-questions</literal> than an entry in the PR database, as discussed above.
<emphasis>Make sure no one else has already submitted a similar PR.</emphasis> Although this has already been mentioned above, it bears repeating here. It only take a minute or two to use the web-based search engine at <uri xlink:href=""></uri>. (Of course, everyone is guilty of forgetting to do this now and then.)
<emphasis>Report only one issue per Problem Report.</emphasis> Avoid including two or more problems within the same report unless they are related. When submitting patches, avoid adding multiple features or fixing multiple bugs in the same PR unless they are closely related—such PRs often take longer to resolve.
<emphasis>Avoid controversial requests.</emphasis> If your PR addresses an area that has been controversial in the past, you should probably be prepared to not only offer patches, but also justification for why the patches are <quote>The Right Thing To Do</quote>. As noted above, a careful search of the mailing lists using the archives at <uri xlink:href=""></uri> is always good preparation.
<emphasis>Be polite.</emphasis> Almost anyone who would potentially work on your PR is a volunteer. No one likes to be told that they have to do something when they are already doing it for some motivation other than monetary gain. This is a good thing to keep in mind at all times on Open Source projects.
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