What is Bugzilla?

Bugzilla is an open source web based bug tracking program that, as the name suggests, was created by the Mozilla Foundation. The program was first developed by Netscape in 1998 when it relicensed its Netscape Navigator under an open-source license as the original Mozilla suite. The software allows users to submit tickets and for project members to assign bugs a severity level and to assign bugs to specific developers.

Bug tracking systems allow individual or groups of developers effectively to keep track of outstanding problems with their product.

It is primarily developed to track bugs for Mozilla’s various projects, including the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird email client. It is an example of “dogfooding,” or a company actually using the products they are developing. Besides Mozilla, Bugzilla is also used for several other major open-source projects, including FreeBSD, WebKit, the Linux Kernel and GNOME, among others.

Bugzilla is a robust, fully featured and mature defect tracking system. Defect tracking systems allow teams of developers to keep track of outstanding bugs, problems, issues, enhancement and other change requests in their products effectively.

Bugzilla is both free as in freedom and free as in price. Despite being free, Bugzilla has many features which are lacking in both its expensive and free counterparts. Consequently, Bugzilla is used by thousands of organizations across the globe.

Bugzilla is famous for its unusual message when no bugs are found in its search engine, “zarro boogs found.” It is intended to be a humorous statement that no software is completely free of bugs by intentionally misspelling the message that no bugs have been found.

A Brief History of Bugzilla

When mozilla.org first came online in 1998, one of the first products that was released was Bugzilla, a bug system implemented using freely available open source tools. Bugzilla was originally written in TCL by Terry Weissman for use at mozilla.org to replace the in-house system then in use at Netscape. The initial installation of Bugzilla was deployed to the public on a mozilla.org server on April 6, 1998.

After a few months of testing and fixing on a public deployment, Bugzilla was finally released as open source via anonymous CVS and available for others to use on August 26, 1998. At this point. Terry decided to port Bugzilla to Perl, with the hopes that more people would be able to contribute to it, since Perl seemed to be a more popular language. The completion of the port to Perl was announced on September 15, 1998, and committed to CVS later that night.

After a few days it was released as Bugzilla 2.0 on September 19, 1998. Since then a large number of projects, both commercial and free have adapted it as their primary method of tracking software defects. In April of 2000, Terry handed off control of the Bugzilla project to Tara Hernandez. Under Tara’s leadership, some of the regular contributors were coerced into taking more responsibility, and Bugzilla began to truly become a group effort. In July of 2001, facing lots of distraction from her “real job,” Tara handed off control to Dave Miller, who is still in charge as of this writing.

On November 30, 2017 Dylan Hardison announced the Harmony project which aims to harmonize the version of Bugzilla used internally by Mozilla with the open source project. Note there are lots of references to “BMO” which stands for bugzilla.mozilla.org.

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