Development process


An issue is a formal description of a known problem, or desired feature, inside a tracker. There are two kind of issues:

  • Bug: describes a defect of the software; it must lead to a resolution of the problem. For example, a process crashing under certain conditions.

  • Feature/Enhancement: describes an improvement of the current code or an entirely new feature. For example, remove a harmless warning of a running process or designing a new UI panel.

Bugs and enhancements will always produce some code changes inside one or more Git repositories.

Each repository is associated with one or more container images. Changes to the code produce new releases of modules.

Do I need to open a new issue?

Yes, if what you’re talking about will produce some code. By the way, it’s perfectly reasonable not to fill issues for occasional small fixes, like typos in translations.

When implementing small fixes, always avoid commits to the main branch. Open a pull request and carefully describe the problem. Creation of issues can be avoided only for trivial fixes which require no QA effort.

Issues are not a to-do list. Issues track the status changes of a job, the output of the job will be a new container image resolving the issue itself. If you are exploring some esoteric paths for new feature or hunting something like a heisenbug, please open a discussion with your thoughts. Then create a new issue only when you’re ready to write a formal description and produce some output object.

A process for a new feature should be something like this:

Writing issues

How to write a bug report:

  • Apply the bug label
  • Point to the right software component with the associated version
  • Describe the error, and how to reproduce it
  • Describe the expected behavior
  • If possible, suggest a fix or workaround
  • If possible, add a piece of system output (log, command, etc)
  • Text presentation matters: it makes the whole report more readable and understandable

How to write a feature or enhancement:

  • Everybody should understand what you’re talking about: describe the feature with simple words using examples
  • If possible, add links to external documentation
  • Text presentation and images matter: they make the whole report more readable and understandable

More information:

Issue priority

Bugs should always have priority over features.

The priority of a bug depends on:

  • security: if it’s a security bug, it should have maximum priority
  • number of affected users: more affected users means more priority

Issue tracker

The NethServer project is hosted on GitHub and is constituted by many Git repositories. We set one of them to be the issue tracker:

Issues created on it help coordinating the development process, determining who is in charge of what.

Issues recorded in the tracker are a fundamental source of information for future changes and a reference for documentation and support requests.

Issues recorded as project draft cards constitute the project roadmap and are published here:

Issue labels

Issues can be tagged using a set of well-known labels:

  • bug: a defect of the software
  • testing: packages are available from testing repositories (see QA section)
  • verified: all test cases were verified successfully (see QA section
  • invalid: invalid issue, not a bug, duplicate or wontfix. Add a detailed description and link to other related issue when using this tag.

An issue without bug label is considered a new feature or an enhancement.

Before introducing new labels, please discuss them with the development team and make sure to describe carefully the new label inside the label page.

Process the issue

After an issue is filed in the tracker, it goes through the hands of teammates who assume various roles. While the same person may take on multiple roles simultaneously, we prefer to distribute responsibilities as much as possible.


The Developer.

  • Sets Assignee to himself.

  • Sets the Project to NethServer 8

  • Bundle his commits as one or more GitHub pull requests

  • For enhancements, writes the test case (for bugs the procedure to reproduce the problem should be already set).

  • Writes and updates the documentation associated with the code.

If the issue is not valid, it must be closed using the invalid label. A comment must convey the reason why it is invalid, like “duplicate of (URL of issue), wontfix because …“.

QA team member (testing)

The QA team member.

  • Takes an issue with label testing and adds themselves to the Assignee field

  • Tests the package, following the test case documentation written by the Developer.

  • Tests the documentation changes, if present

  • When test finishes they remove the testing label. If the test is successful, they set the verified label, otherwise they alert the Developer and the Packager to plan a new process iteration.


The Packager coordinates the Developer and QA member work. After the Developer opens one or more pull requests:

  • Selects issues with open pull requests

  • Reviews the pull request code and merges it The CI will build and upload a new container image

After the QA member has completed the testing phase:

  • Takes an issue with label verified

  • Commits a release tag (see Module version numbering rules).

  • Pushes the release tag and commits to GitHub

  • Merges the documentation changes in the nethserver/ns8-docs repo. Also publishes the documentation by pushing the latest branch, if needed

  • Closes the issue, specifying the list of released modules

When the package is CLOSED, all related documentation must be in place.

At any time of the issue lifecycle they ensure that there are no release conflict with other issues.

Pull requests

A Pull Request (PR) is the main method of submitting code contributions to NethServer.

You can find an overview of the whole workflow here.

Submitting a pull request

When submitting a PR, check that:

  1. PR is submitted against the main branch (for current stable release)

  2. PR title contains a brief explanation of the feature, fix or enhancement

  3. PR comment contains a link to the related issue, in the form NethServer/dev#<number>, eg: NethServer/dev#1122

  4. PR comment describes the changes and how the feature is supposed to work

  5. Multiple dependent PRs in multiple repositories must include the dependencies between them in the description

  6. Select at least one PR reviewer (GitHub suggestions are a usually good)

  7. Select yourself as the initial PR assignee

Managing an open pull request

After submitting a PR, before it is merged:

  1. If enabled, automated build process must pass

    • If the build fails, check the error and try to narrow down the reason
    • If the failure is due to an infrastructure problem, please contact a developer who will help you
  2. Another developer must review the pull request to make sure it:

    • Works as expected
    • Doesn’t break existing stuff
    • The code is reasonably readable by others developers
    • The commit history is clean and adheres to commit message rules
  3. The PR must be approved by a developer with commit access to NethServer on GitHub:

    • Any comment raised by a developer has been addressed before the pull request is ready to merge

Merging a pull request

When merging a PR, make sure to copy the issue reference inside the merge commit comment body, this step will be used by automation tools:

  • to write notification about published modules inside the referenced issue
  • to automatically create modules changelog

If the commit history is not clear enough, or you want to easily revert the whole work, it’s acceptable to squash before merge. Please make sure the issue reference is present inside the comment of the squashed commit.

Also, avoid adding the issue references directly inside non-merge commit messages to have a clean GitHub reference graph.

Example of a good merge commit:

  commit xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Merge: xxxxxxx yyyyyyy
  Author: Mighty Developer <>
  Date:   Thu Dec 14 17:12:19 2017 +0100

      Merge pull request #87 from OtherDev/branchXY

      Add new excellent feature 


Example of a merged PR with squash:

  commit xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Author: Mighty Developer <>
  Date:   Thu Dec 14 17:12:19 2017 +0100

    Another feature (#89)


Draft pull requests

The use of draft pull requests is recommended to share an on-going development. Draft pull requests can be used to test possible implementations of features that do not have an issue yet. If the draft pull request does not reference an issue it must have an assignee.

Module version numbering rules

NethServer releases use the semantic version.

Please bear in mind that versioning of unstable releases is a bit different on what happens on RPM versions. When tagging a beta release, remember to use the following syntax: 1.1.0-beta.1. Increment the 1 number for any successive beta release until the stables. Example: 1.1.0-beta.1 < 1.1.0-beta.2

Commit message style guide

Individual commits should contain a cohesive set of changes to the code. These seven rules summarize how a good commit message should be composed.

  1. Separate subject from body with a blank line
  2. Limit the subject line to 50 characters
  3. Capitalize the subject line
  4. Do not end the subject line with a period
  5. Use the imperative mood in the subject line
  6. Wrap the body at 72 characters
  7. Use the body to explain what and why vs. how

For merge commits, and commits pushed directly to the main branch (avoid whenever possible!), also add the issue reference inside the commit body.


The developer must take care to write all documentation on:

  • inside the repository
  • Administrator Manual

Modules should be marked with a testing version until all documentation is completed.

New modules

Before creating a module package, make sure it’s a good idea. Often a simple documentation page is enough, and it requires much less effort. When trying new things, just take care to write down on a public temporary document, like a community discussion, all steps and comments. If the feature collects many requests, it’s time to think about a new module. Otherwise, the temporary document can be moved to a manual page.

When creating a new module, make sure the following requirements are met:

  • Announce it on community
  • Create an issue describing the package
  • Create a personal repository on GitHub
  • Add a GPL license and copyright notice in the COPYING or LICENSE file
  • Add a file, with developer documentation
  • If needed, create a pull request for the repository metadata to list the package in the Software center page.

Module updates

Updates to modules must obey the following rules:

  • New features/enhancements and bug fixes must not alter the behavior of existing systems

  • New behaviors must be enabled by an explicit and documented sysadmin operation

  • Modules must support updates from any previous release of the same major release