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Discussion of bugs in Mozilla Thunderbird
tanstaafl
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Post Posted October 11th, 2010, 6:41 am

Facts of life about reporting bugs

MozillaZine is not run by or affiliated with Mozilla, it's an independent user community. While you can report a bug in this forum the consensus is that process doesn't work. We try to collaborate with Mozilla, but their employees don't read these forums. Your best bet is to submit a bug report at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/ (their bug tracking system). If you do that you are guaranteed that at least QA will read and track it. Most bugs reported here just get lost in the clutter.

Many users first reaction when they have a problem is that its a bug. It may be, but if you're really asking for help, please use the Thunderbird Support forum instead. Its gets far more traffic and is meant for helping users. I suggest you create a thread in this forum only after you've asked for help in the Thunderbird support forum, and the consensus is that its a real bug. Thunderbird Issues has workarounds for many common problems.

QA triage

Every Thursday Mozilla Messaging QA has a "bug day" where they triage bug reports. See here if you're interested in helping.

Beta channel

Thunderbird has different release "channels". Normally you only get an automatic update when a release is ready for general use. However, you can install a beta version that is suitable for public testing by any user. Most of its features will work and serious bugs are unlikely, but its a calculated risk. It is not like a Google beta which is actually a production version. Once you do that you will get automatic updates for both beta and official releases.

Mozilla relies heavily upon users testing pre-release versions. It is also a good way to influence developers as they are typically more receptive to feedback then. Downloads for Beta versions are available from the Thunderbird Channels web page.

If you want to stop getting beta updates you can either uninstall that version (uninstalling doesn't delete your profile, which has your mail, settings, address books etc.) and then download and install the latest released version, or change the app.update.channel setting in the defaults/pref/channel-prefs.js file in the Thunderbird program directory from beta to release. See Testing pre-release versions for more information.

Daily builds

Daily automated builds are available. They have the very latest changes but are not suitable for most users because they're untested and their behavior changes so frequently. They are usually perfectly usable if you're comfortable taking a calculated risk but frequently when they fix one bug they create another, and you're not going to be able to get any help via normal support channels if you run into a problem.

They're meant only for testers and developers, but if a bug report says your bug was fixed in the "trunk" or a certain "branch" and for some reason you can't wait for the release the bug fix is scheduled for you might consider backing up your profile and then trying one. See the sticky thread at the top of the Thunderbird Builds forum for more information. It also has a weekly build thread with feedback on known problems. Its a good idea to browse that thread and pick a build rather than blindly install the very latest one. You should also read the advice in Testing pre-release versions.

Weekly build blog

Rumbling Edge is a weekly build blog. It has lists of fixed and outstanding (ones important enough to block a release) bugs, with short descriptions and a link to the bug report. Frequently a bug is reported in multiple bug reports, some of which get ignored and some of which are marked duplicate. This blog is a handy way to track whats happening (anybody trying to fix your problem) without having to spend a lot of time identifying all of the bug reports.

Experimental features

The developers occasionally release an experimental add-on to get feedback on a feature that they're considering building into Thunderbird. This was first done with the "Quick Filter experimental add-on", which resulted in the QuickFilter toolbar in 3.1. Its much easier to influence a developer by providing feedback for one of the experimental add-ons, than to file bug reports afterwards. They remove the experimental add-on from the Mozilla add-ons web site after the feature is built-in (rather than just labeling the add-on as obsolete and unsupported) to prevent anybody from trying to get support for it.

Official status pages

The releases web site lists the schedules of upcoming and recent releases. The status meetings web page has links to the agenda and minutes of each weekly Thunderbird status meeting.

Other

The Other sources of Thunderbird information KB article has links to other places to get support, other forums, build status information, specs, development plans, developers blogs etc.

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