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Individual applications that are not in the base system but are instead part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection (category <literal>ports</literal>). 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 xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/introduction.html#LATEST-VERSION">FreeBSD versions</link>, 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 xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/security/">list of supported versions</link>.
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 xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/index.html">Frequently Asked Questions</link> (FAQ) list. The FAQ attempts to provide answers for a wide range of questions, such as those concerning <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/hardware.html">hardware compatibility</link>, <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/applications.html">user applications</link>, and <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/kernelconfig.html">kernel configuration</link>.
The <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/eresources.html#ERESOURCES-MAIL">mailing lists</link>—if you are not subscribed, use <link xlink:href="">the searchable archives</link> 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 <link xlink:href="">FreeBSD PR database</link> (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</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)


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