Getting involved with the Fedora project – Part 5

This is the final part of  “Getting involved with Fedora”.  Parts one to four covered the steps required to install Fedora into a virtualization system running on Windows 7.  Part four also explained how to register an account with Fedora’s bug-tracking system.  In this post one intends on testing the Fedora system with the hope of finding a defect in one of its software packages.

What to Test?

One of the hardest parts of testing a huge system such as Fedora is being focused.  In my experience it’s best to focus your attention on one software package at a time.  The more you tinker with the same package the more knowledge you gain about that package.  As knowledge is power I would expect your bug finding skills to benefit from knowing the inner workings of any given package.

In order to test a package it is essential to understand the expected behaviour.  This normally means understanding the inputs and outputs.  Take for example the user and groups management utility system-config-users.  This software package aims to provide system administrators with an interface for creating and maintaining users and groups.  Therefore, if we can make it fail its goal we’ve found a bug!

Finding a bug?

I’ve already found a few bugs with the system-config-users utility.  Here are the steps I performed to uncover one such bug:

Start system-config-users by selecting the GNOME menu option Application->Other->User and Groups:

Bug finding Fedora

Fedora will start the utility; however, as the utility requires escalated privileges to run you will be prompted for the root user’s password:

Bug finding Fedora

After submitting the credentials the utility will start:

Bug finding Fedora

From the Edit menu select the Preferences option:

Bug finding Fedora

Then from within the Preference screen un-tick the “Hide system users and groups” check-box and press Close.  This will reveal the system users e.g.

Bug finding Fedora

Select the ‘root’ user and press the “Properties” button.  This is will open a window that displays the root user’s details:

Bug finding Fedora

Remove the content of the home directory and press OK.  Then close the utility.  Once closed re-launch the utility:

Bug finding Fedora

Whoops, it didn’t start?  Why not?  Because we remove the home directory of root which I believe should be mandatory; thus, we’ve broken the system.   Let’s prove this by starting a console and trying to log on as the root users:

Bug finding Fedora

Oh dear!  I cannot log on as root.  System-config-user has allowed be to omit the home directory; therefore, huge parts of the system are now broken.

Bug finding Fedora

We can now log this as a bug!  One useful piece of information you’ll need is the version of the software at fault.  This can be obtained by running the YUM command “yum list installed system-config-user” – see sample above.  I actually logged this particular fault while ago and it can be viewed here https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=344111.  I’m not going to explain the details of logging a software bug because this information is covered in the on-line Bugzilla user guide.
That concludes this series.  I hope it’s beneficial to some and allows you to get involved.  All feedback welcome!
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