Intro to Bug Trackers (Activity)

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Intro to Bug Trackers


Learners will gain an understanding of the features of bug trackers and how they are used to identify work items to be completed in a FOSS project.



After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:
  1. Describe the role that a bug tracker plays in a FOSS project.
  2. Describe the different types of issues stored in a bug tracker and their priorities.
  3. Identify and track the status of a particular bug in a project.
Process Skills


Bug tracking systems are a tool for change management and organization used by FOSS projects. Bug trackers do far more than simply keep track of bugs. They also are used to hold new feature requests, patches, and some tasks. Bug trackers are also called request trackers, issue trackers, and ticket systems. Please read the two readings below for a more complete treatment of bug trackers and their use in FOSS projects.


  1. Open a browser and go to GNOME's issue tracker on GitLab .
  2. GItLab allows groups with multiple projects to view all their issues in an aggregated view. This is what you are viewing now. List some of the projects that these issues belong to (hint - each issues has an issue number prefixed by its project name.)
  3. What other information is available about each issue in this view?
  4. Issues can be assigned labels which are also visible from this view. These are the colorful labeled ovals. List a few of the labels that you see. Feel free to browse through pages.
  5. Browse through a couple of issues. What additional information is provided on individual issues?
  6. Click on "labels" in the left menu. Notice that labels are grouped by number and color. For example, gold (olive?) labels start with "1." and represent the type of the issue, which can be used to quickly search for issues of a certain type and to know what type an issue is at a glance. What other groups are there, and how do you think they are used?
  7. Click on "board" in the left menu. Boards are used to organize issues. This board provides a high-level roadmap of the projects in GNOME. How are cards associated with columns?
  8. Click on "milestones" in the left menu. Browse through two or three of them. Then try to draw some conclusions. What are the elements of every milestone. What is the purpose of Milestones as GNOME is using them?
  9. Click on "Merge Requests" in the left menu. These look a lot lick issues. Browse through a few. What do they have that issues do not? Often merge-requests contain links back to the issue that they are related to. What is the syntax for linking a Merge-Request to an issue?

Part 1 - Bug Reports

  1. Open a browser and go to the GNOME Accessibility Bugs
  2. Define what each of the column names below indicate. Include the range of possible values for 2-7 below. Feel free to explore beyond the page to find more information.
    1. ID
    2. Product
    3. Comp
    4. Assignee
    5. Status
    6. Resolution
    7. Summary
  3. Describe how you discovered the definitions and how you found the information from above (hint: the advanced search shows the options or the Reports link has a link).
  4. Identify the order in which the bugs are initially displayed.
  5. What is the meaning of the colors used when describing a bug (red, gray, black)? (Hint: click on the Bug ID and examine the fields)
  6. Select a bug that you think that you might be able to fix and look at it more closely (click on the bug number).
    1. When was the bug submitted?
    2. What recent discussion has there been about the bug?
    3. Is the bug current?
    4. Is the bug assigned? To whom?
    5. Describe what you would need to do to fix the bug.
  7. Repeat the previous step with a different kind of bug.

Part 2 - Collective Reports

  1. Click on the “Reports” link on the top of the page.
  2. Click on the "Summary of Bug Activity for the last week".
  3. How many bug reports were opened in the last week? How many were closed?
  4. What was the general trend last week? Were more bugs opened than closed or vice versa?
  5. Who were the top three bug closers? Why is this important to know?
  6. Who were the top three bug reporters? Are these the same as the top three bug closes? What is the overlap in these two lists?
  7. Who are the top three reviewers of patches? What is the overlap between these lists and the bug closers and bug reporters? What is the overlap between patch contributors and patch reviewers?
  8. Click on the "Reports" link at the top of the page and then click on the “Generate Graphical Reports” link.
  9. Plot a line graph of the severity of bugs by component for Orca:
    1. Select "Severity" for the vertical axis
    2. Select "Component" for the horizontal axis
    3. Select "Bar Graph" for type of graph
    4. Leave the "Multiple Images" as <none>
    5. Scroll down and select Orca from the Product menu.
    6. Click "Generate Report".
  10. What class were the majority of the bugs for braille?
  11. What other reports can you generate?


POSSE: On your user wiki page, a section describing the results of your exploration.

Notes for Instructors

The remaining sections of this document are intended for the instructor. They are not part of the learning activity that would be given to students.


  • How will the activity be graded?
  • How will learning will be measured?
  • Include sample assessment questions/rubrics.
Criteria Level 1 (fail) Level 2 (pass) Level 3 (good) Level 4 (exceptional)
The purpose of the project
Why the project is open source


  • What should the instructor know before using this activity?
  • What are some likely difficulties that an instructor may encounter using this activity?
Area & Unit(s)


Estimated Time
to Complete

60 minutes

Environment /

Access to Internet/Web and web browser.


Heidi Ellis


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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Suggestions for Open Source Community:

Suggestions for an open source community member who is working in conjunction with the instructor.

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