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[wlug] Curious about OSS

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Perry Lorier perry@c...
Mon Apr 4 17:56:31 NZST 2005

Craig Box wrote:
>>Just curious.  Among all the emails about _using_ OSS, how many
>>people here _produce_ OSS?
> I'm not a programmer.  Does that make me a bad person?

(This isn't directed at craig but in general), as a programmer, things I 
love non programmers to do:

* Write good bug reports.

A bug report means absolutely nothing if I can't reproduce the bug.  If 
I can't reproduce it it means I can't prove that I've fixed it.  Some 
bug reports I've got in the past:

Re: [SEVERE BUG] Crash after 10 minutes

 > The server crashes after 10 minutes, the server isn't in the process
 > list anymore.

I mean, what am I supposed to do with this?  after 10 minutes it's still 
working for me...

Things to include:
  * what os you are running (the output of uname -a), what version of 
the software you are running.  what distro you are running (and which 
version of that distro).

  * The config file you are using (remember to remove passwords!)

  * Tell me what was happening at the time (netsplit?)

  * If it produces any error messages, /please please please/ tell us 
what they are!  "assertion failure 0 != cptr at client.c:212" may not 
mean much to you, but it means the world to me.

  * Run it with full debugging on, and either send the full debug log, 
or  if it's huge, just the last 1mb or so.

  * If it generates a core file, I will want a backtrace, this is easy 
to get:
  gdb ./program-that-crashed ./core
then at the gdb prompt type
  (gdb) bt full
and paste the entire output into the bug report.  Please don't just send 
me the core file, in general it's useless to me, and I don't want a 1gig 
file emailed to me that I can't use.

Also, I'm a programmer, I suck at documentation.  It's far too easy to 
think "thats obvious", or just use bad terminology or spelling.  What 
really helps is getting someone who isn't a programmer to give the 
documentation a once over and send in suggestions.  The wlug wiki is a 
great example of this.  If someone asks me something I usually try and 
get them to wiki it (why? because if I have to wiki everything I'm 
asked, I'm gonna give up answering questions, and people tend to wiki 
things from their point of view (I want to do this) as to mine (this is 
how the program works) I always go back and check what people wrote to 
check it for accuracy and for clarifications.

If you have a problem and spend time researching it and find the answer, 
please wiki it, so that others can benefit from your help, or more 
importantly in 6 months when you're trying to remember how you did 
whatever you did you have a reference.  Writing up "howto" documents in 
the wiki is surprisingly addictive, as is cleaning up old pages in the 
wiki.  perhaps starting at

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