wnd's weblog

Who broke my querybts?

2 Nov 2008 20:16:55 software

As you may or may not know, querybts is a command line tool in Debian to view bug reports. You can look for bug reports and their status by giving querybts either the name of a package or a bug number. Bug database can also be viewed with an ordinary web browser but personally I prefer command line and querybts.

Some time ago someone on #debian noticed that aptitude hold foo didn’t do what one might expect. Instead of simply matching the functionality of echo "foo hold" | dpkg --set-selections, aptitude hold only updates aptitude’s own database. This is when I realised something was terribly wrong with querybts.

Back in good old days using querybts used to be extremely straightforward. You searched for bugs in of particular package, chose one bug report from a list, and followed exchange of messages mainly by simply hitting enter. Default action was almost always what you wanted to do. If you ever wanted to quit, CTRL-C would do the trick.

When I started to look into the aptitude issue with querybts I was greeted by some strange blue screen with boxes and stuff – not the plain text mode thing I was so used to. Not only was the thing wasting screen estate but also not showing the beginning of the lines! Ignoring that I proceeded to pick a bug. Having read the initial bug report I instinctively pressed enter. Nothing happened. After realising querybts was now using some dialog/whiptail kind of UI I pressed tab to select one of the buttons of the screen. As much as I tried I couldn’t find a way to jump to the next message. I finally accepted that picking “More details (launch browser)” was my only option. Thankfully this helped. Anyway, if one chooses to use a command line tool to view bug reports who on earth could think he would want to open a browser to view the details? Give me a break…

I started to look into querybts instead of aptitude. I first tried to run querybts --help to see if there was a switch to select the UI. Nope, and the manual page didn’t help either. After some time poking around I figured that querybts actually did have a command line option (--ui) to choose the UI. Obviously the default UI was not text. Continuing to read the source I came to conclusion that there was no way to configure the default UI. Just great. In other words from now on I have to call querybts with --ui text if I want it to be any useful. Whose great idea was this? And oh, just see what happens when you press CTRL-C with newt UI. Bah.

As for the aptitude issue, behaviour of hold command is a feature. Where is this world heading? Who broke querybts? Who is trying to break Debian?