The importance of raising bugs in open source software

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Open source software is great. What makes it great is the fact that anyone can contribute in some way, be it fixing bugs, raising bugs, testing etc. It’s important to remember this when we find problems with the software we use. As users and developers of open source software we have the power to effect change.

I recently came across a problem with an open source project which resulted in me raising a bug and subsequently having it fixed. It was a fairly painless process and resulted in making positive change in a well known product.

The problem

For work I use a 13” laptop with a resolution of 1920px × 1080px. By default this makes text a bit too hard to read for me. Luckily Ubuntu, the OS I use, has a large text option in it’s accessibility settings. This scales everything about to 1.25 it’s default size. Most applications respect the large text option and scale accordingly but there are a few that don’t.

Whilst trying to make the switch from Chrome to Firefox as my primary development browser I found that Firefox wasn’t respecting the large text setting. I did some googleing to try and find a solution but couldn’t find anything.

Raising the bug

As Firefox is a widely used browser with a large community I assumed that someone else must have raised this issue and there was a reason why the large text setting didn’t have any effect. It turns out I was wrong.

I arrived at Bugzilla and searched to see if anything remotely like the issue I was facing had been raised before. I couldn’t find anything so I reported a bug. The team at Mozilla were quick to respond and before I knew it were working on a solution.

The solution

Yesterday I received notification of a comment asking me to verify that the bug has been fixed. I installed v73.0b2 and verified that the issue I raised was indeed fixed. I’m now looking forward to the release of Firefox 73 which will fix this issue for me and anyone else using Ubuntu/Gnome with large text enabled.

Takeway

If you find a bug in a piece of open source software, never assume that someone else has reported it. Raising a bug for a problem you’ve found which then gets fixed helps everyone who uses that software. The value of that should never be underestimated.