How to change the software package an issue is filed under in the Debian bug tracker?

The help page has these instructions:

In case you need to write a message to the bug and also manipulate the bug's metadata, the commands can also be included in the mail to [email protected]. Do this by starting the mail with the commands prefixed by Control: . Another common way is to send a copy of the mail to [email protected] and start the mail with commands terminated by thanks.

and then under Commands available:

reassign bugnumber package [ version ]

I tried:

  • Control: reassign -1 kde-plasma-desktop [5:142] at the start of mail reply to the bug report with control at bugs.debian.org in the CC (I think I should have used nnn@ here; all below went to the same control email)
  • Control: reassign 1019438 kde-plasma-desktop [ 5:142 ]
  • Control: reassign 1019438 src:kde-plasma-desktop [ 5:142 ] (thanks in the line below)
  • Control: reassign 1019438 kde-plasma-desktop (thanks in the line below)
  • reassign 1019438 kde-plasma-desktop [ 5:142 ] (thanks in the line below)

I could not find a full example anywhere so I'm asking here.

1 Answer 1


The square brackets indicate that the version is optional; they are not part of the command syntax.

You should either send this to control@bugs.…:

reassign 1019438 kde-plasma-desktop 5:142

or this to 1019448@bugs.…:

Control: reassign -1 kde-plasma-desktop 5:142
  • It's small but it's not somehow self-explanatory...things like this can cost people a lot of time and nerves which is why having some example(s) is usually good. I thought about whether sth is off with the brackets after none of the first three worked. As is, the instructions are unclear and the issue tracker seems stuck in the 1980s and is a pain to use. I just don't know if both things are made deliberately like that so that inexperienced users don't submit many bugs or easily change them. People don't know what is or isn't part of the command syntax.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Commented Apr 15 at 10:32
  • More clear would be send a mail to [email protected] and start the mail with the commands (without "Control: ") terminated by thanks in the last line. and reassign bugnumber package version with an example in each section or at least one example at the top.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Commented Apr 15 at 10:34
  • @mYnDstrEAm for our suggested version, you'd still need to mention that version is optional - and there is a very long-standing convention to use square brackets to indicate optional arguments (see any number of manpages, the default help text generated by Python argparse, etc.)
    – muru
    Commented Apr 15 at 15:42
  • Yes, I think it should be mentioned there that it's optional. There's lots of conventions everywhere but people shouldn't assume everyone knows and remembers all of them like they do themselves. Not a problem if there was one(1) example. I know manpages but wouldn't think it also applies to some manual for changing bugs online. Adding some text about the optional version would be good in general since I wouldn't know what happens when it's not changed because the version probably in most cases differs between packages and the one of the former may not exist in the target package.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Commented Apr 15 at 16:19
  • @mYnDstrEAm there is an example that completely omits the version further down the page.
    – muru
    Commented Apr 16 at 3:38

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