Getting the most from bug mail

If you’ve reported, commented on or subscribed to a bug in Launchpad, you’ll have seen Launchpad’s bug mail. It’s probably the easiest way to stay up to date with the bugs that interest you and there are a few things you can do to get the most out of it.

If you don’t read anything else…

Probably the best thing you can do to make bug mail useful is to ensure you only get the bug mail that interests you.

Launchpad makes the reasonable assumption that, if you report, comment on or subscribe to a bug, you’re interested in that bug. So, it’ll send you email updates when:

* someone changes the status, importance or targeting of the bug
* someone makes a comment on the bug.

If you find you’re no longer interested in a particular bug, check for an unsubscribe link in the footer of the bug mail. You can also visit your own bug page to check which individual bugs you’re subscribed to.

If you don’t see an unsubscribe link, it means that you’re not subscribed directly. Instead, you’re receiving the bug mail because either:

  • you’re a member of a team that’s subscribed to the bug
  • you’ve previously subscribed to receive all bug mail associated with a particular distro, project or part thereof.

So, what do you do?

You’re subscribed to all bugs associated with a distro or project

At the bottom of the bug mail is a link to the bug’s page in Launchpad, along with a short explanation as to why you’re receiving the bug mail. If you’re subscribed to all the bugs associated with Launchpad, for example, it might say:

You received this bug notification because you are subscribed to Launchpad itself

These bulk subscriptions do not show up on your bug page. Instead, you need to visit the distro, project or series’ bug page and follow the Subscribe to bug mail link, where you’ll be able to unsubscribe.

A team you’re in is subscribed to the bug

Similarly, if you’re subscribed to a bug indirectly through your membership of a team, the bug mail footer message will tell you which team. You now have two options to stop receiving the bug mail:

  • leave the team
  • if you’re absolutely certain your team-mates will be happy, unsubscribe the team from that bug, by following the link to the bug’s Launchpad page.

Of course, there is another way that isn’t as drastic as either of those two options: instead of unsubscribing, filter the bug mail to a dedicated folder.

Filtering bug mail

Most mail clients can filter your incoming mail based on certain elements, such as text in the subject line, certain mail headers and so on. Launchpad makes it easy to filter bug mail.

The most obvious thing you can use to filter your bug mail is the subject line: Launchpad adds the bug number to the start of each bug mails subject, such as:

[Bug 123456] Add some whatsits to the doodah

The footer, which explains the reason for your receiving the bug mail, can also be handy. Similarly, Launchpad adds an X-Launchpad-Message-Rationale: header to each bug mail, which you can use to filter the bug mail.

Matt Nuzum wrote an excellent guide to filtering Launchpad bug mail. It’s aimed at Gmail users but you can tailor it to your own mail client.

Duplicate bugs

If you’re subscribed to bug A and someone marks bug A as a duplicate of bug B, Launchpad automatically subscribes you to bug B. You can always follow the unsubscribe link in the mail footer.

Two-way bug communication

Before I go, I should mention that bug mail is not just a one-way conversation. You can report, comment on and alter bugs entirely by email. It’s quick and really easy. Take a look at our guide.

Don’t forget that if you reply to bug mail, your entire email will be published as a public bug comment on Launchpad. So, remove those phone numbers from your email signature if you don’t want them to be public!

4 Responses to “Getting the most from bug mail”

  1. Jim Campbell Says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve adjusted my bugmail filters based on this – I think it’ll make me a more efficient and effective triager.

  2. Tormod Says:

    “Don’t forget that if you reply to bug mail, your entire email will be published as a public bug comment on Launchpad. So, remove those phone numbers from your email signature if you don’t want them to be public!”

    And PLEASE do not quote the bug mail you reply to!

  3. Abhishek Kumar Says:

    Thanks a lot for the informative guide.

  4. Peggy Terry Says:


    I’m really trying to report defects, but the bug won’t allow me log into ‘launchpad’. I’m hoping this email makes it to the bug team. Yesterday morning I installed the recommended patches. Now my machine isn’t working correctly. Several things not working right.

    2. The ‘back and forward’ buttons don’t work on the browser either.
    3. After a restart. The networking connectivity doesn’t come up for a long time. I’ve been toggling the hardware button to ‘stimulate’ it to action.
    4. Instead of the shut-down selection box pop-up after, clicking the green man to ‘log-off or shut-down’, the panels completely disappear off the screen and the ”pidgin’ screen pops up. A hard boot is required after that point.

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