Monday, November 4, 2013

Automated Submission of Kernel Panic Reports

Colin Percival has announced a new port called sysutils/panicmail which users can use to automatically submit panic reports. From the announcement:

After considerable review on freebsd-hackers (thanks dt71 and jilles!) I have now added sysutils/panicmail to the FreeBSD ports tree.  If you install this and add
to your /etc/rc.conf, a panic report will be generated and sent to root@ for you to review and submit (via email).  You can skip the reviewing step and submit panics automatically by setting panicmail_autosubmit="YES".

The panics submitted are encrypted to an RSA key which I hold in order to keep them secure in transit; and I intend to keep the raw panic reports confidential except to the minimum extent necessary for other developers to help me process the incoming reports.

If I receive enough panic reports to be useful, I hope to provide developers with aggregate statistics.  This may include:
  • regular email reports listing the "top panics", to help guide developers towards the most fertile areas for stability improvements;
  • email to specific developers alerting them to recurring panics in code they maintain (especially if it becomes clear that the panic has been recently introduced); and
  • guidance to re@ and secteam@ about how often a particular panic occurs if an errata notice is being considered
as well as other yet-to-be-imagined reports of a similarly aggregate and anonymized nature.

So please install the sysutils/panicmail port and enable it in rc.conf!  This all depends on getting useful data, and I can't do that without your help.

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