How to look for suitable mozilla bugs to work on

by jasonyeo

During the 2nd week of our CP3108B class, I gave some tips on how to look for suitable bugs. I didn’t have a chance to address everyone so I’ve decided to document all of the pointers down in this post just in case any of you need to refer to them.

Look for good first bugs and [mentor= bugs

Bugzilla uses these terms to label easy bugs. If you do not know how to search for these terms, refer to my previous blog post. The search links are there.

Make sure no one else is working on it

I would recommend you to work on bugs that labeled unassigned. Assigned bugs usually have someone already working on it. You wouldn’t want to redo someone’s work right? Also, sometimes contributors forget to assign the bugs to themselves although they have submitted a patch to it. Make sure you don’t see this in the attachment box:

Also, make sure the attachment type is not a patch file type. A typical patch should look like this.

Try to understand the bug

Most bugs are reproducible. If it is not, the bug may not be a bug at all. Reproduce the bug and see where the problem lies. You might need to download the latest Firefox or Thunderbird to test the bug. Do note that these builds are not the release builds. They contain the latest patches that are pushed into the code repository. Do not confuse them with the widely available release build.

If you are still in doubt about what the bug is all about although it is labeled as a good first bug, you should contact the mentor through irc.

I’ve found my potential bug, what’s next?

You should put yourself in the CC to find keep yourself in the loop regarding any recent comments or progress of the bug.

Lastly, get yourself a copy of the source and compile it from source. The instructions are here. I would recommend you to do this on a *NIX machine, either on a mac OSx or Linux. The required software are easy to download and install and the compilation process is faster on it.


When I was fixing my own bugs, I spent a lot of my time going around looking for answers and asking question questions on IRC. There are a lot of well documented sources on the net and helpful people on IRC. Just don’t be afraid to ask! Enjoy!