I recently upgraded to Ubuntu 12.10 and had my alt + tab break. Fortunately, I found a question on Ask Ubuntu that had the solution. However, since this question was closed, the solution was posted in a comment instead of being a proper answer.

I understand the need to submit bug reports to their correct channels. Even so, it seems in situations like this Ubuntu users can benefit from being able to seek out alternatives.

Should questions seeking workarounds for problems be allowed, even if the problem was introduced by a bug? What kind of standard might need to be met to get an off topic question such as this one over the threshold?

  • Ubuntu's Help and Information page states to use Ask Ubuntu (or the forums). The page does not mention trolling a bug tracker. Cf: "AskUbuntu and Ubuntu Forums are great sources of answers to common questions about installing, troubleshooting and optimizing Ubuntu."
    – user207039
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 3:54

3 Answers 3


Workarounds, additional details, patches, and all things bugs belong on Launchpad per the Ask Ubuntu bug policy. If we allow posting workarounds on the site they may never make it to the bug report and the community becomes fractured. As a result we draw a hard line with regards to bugs.

To combat this, the community will try to maintain links to known bugs in comments on the closed questions. This serves as a launching point to help drive people with questions to the right forum in which to have them answered.

  • 2
    +1. Wasn't sure how hard the line on bug workarounds was. Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 20:06
  • 4
    Understood. It's unfortunate Stack Exchange's benefits (cutting the long discussion & floating the best workaround to the top) aren't available for this.
    – Brad Koch
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 20:25
  • But if a bug is already reported and fixed in a future / newer release, why would it be still be wrong to ask for workarounds here? Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 4:09
  • 1
    Because it's already fixed? Just upgrade the package. Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 13:41
  • 1
    @MarcoCeppi upgrading may not always be a viable solution. Specially if the fix is only applied for a new major release. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 12:47
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    The site only supports releases of Ubuntu that Canonical recognizes as supported. So if you're running outdated Ubuntu installs we can't help you to begin with. If a bug requires a workaround for other supported releases of Ubuntu then it still needs to be documented on the bug itself. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 14:27
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    I would disagree on that for the exact same reason as Eliah kagan has in his answer here. Not all workarounds are relevant in terms of debugging the actual issue. Specially for cases where the workaround involves the use of tools that have nothing to do with the tool that involves the bug. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 14:57
  • @MarcoCeppi I just tried a search on the main site for 'bug workaround' and got quite a few hits. Is it time to start close-voting/flagging many of these? Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 10:24

Occasionally on Launchpad, developers ask people to move some discussion of workarounds elsewhere. I don't think this happens a lot, but sometimes such discussion can get in the way of actually investigating and fixing a bug.

I have seen this happen several times. Each time was at a time when I was more involved in bug hunting and less involved in Ask Ubuntu, so when that happened, I never had the thought to propose a "move" to Ask Ubuntu.

In situations where that happens, I wouldn't hesitate to post a question here about workarounds. Of course, Ask Ubuntu is not a discussion forum, but in a situation where workarounds couldn't be presented clearly on Launchpad due to developers' preferences, I think Ask Ubuntu is an appropriate place to ask a "practical, answerable question" about one here.

This is an exception rather than a rule. (AbrahamVanHelpsing articulates another good exception, I think. And there might be others.)

I am not saying "Are there any workarounds for the bug where X happens when you do A" is generally a good, on-topic question for our site.

When posting a question about a workaround after being told not to ask about it in the Launchpad bug page, a link to the developer's bug comment should be included in the question. Because new user restrictions include a restriction on how many links must be posted, this link can and should be added by any editor if not already present.

We might decide--contrary to the perspective presented above--that even this is not something we wish to allow, and that even those questions shouldn't be welcome here. In that case, I think we should then explicitly include hyperlinks to both Launchpad Answers and Ubuntu Forums, in the automatic "off topic" close banner (or maybe even consider a different close reason for questions that relate to bugs, if the Stack Exchange network will provide that to us).


I think this would create an impossibly subjective problem on the difference between what is defined as a bug report/complaint and what is defined as seeking a workaround.

I would be more inclined to ask for a workaround in chat. If you find one, post the question and immediately self-answer.

This way, you don't clog up the site with thousands of unsolved bug complaints, but you do provide meaningful answers.

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