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Introduction about bug and issue tracking software

I had to admit I liked Atlassian Jira as a bug and issue tracking software. However, Atlassian had announced that when it's in 2021 February, the standalone server version would be gone. Also, there would be a price increase of all the existing data center version.

So let's look at other alternatives. In this article, I would briefly describe several open source and low cost bug and issue tracking applications. We would have a summary of each product after the table.

Table: Curated list of open source and low-cost bug and issue tracking software

Name License and pricing model Languages and database Target audiences / use cases Pros Cons and pain points Which companies or organizations are using it
Bugzilla Mozilla Public License 2.0 (MPL 2.0)
  • Backend: Perl
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL and PostgreSQL Oracle is 2nd class citizen
Bug and issue tracking tool Well established, it has been around since 1998 Last stable release was in 2019-Feb, development seems less active Mozilla Foundation, Linux Kernel, Red Hat, Apache and etc.
Redmine GPL v2
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Supported databases: MySQL 5.5, 5.7, PostgreSQL 9.2 or higher MS SQL server 2012 or higher
Project management, issue and bug tracking Integrated features like project management, grantt chart, calendar, wiki and multiple projects support Release version of Redmine do not support latest Ruby version 2.7.x You could use rvm to fix the Ruby version Ruby-lang project, Illumos and etc. Here's a list from redmine.org
Request Tracker GPL v2 and commercial offering
  • Backend: Perl
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL 5.7 / MariaDB 10.2+ PostgreSQL 9.5+ Oracle 12c+
Bug and issue tracking tool Well established, it has been around since 1999 The UI for version < 5 is a bit outdated. But in RT 5 they have a responsive UI design Best Practical Solutions LLC have a list in here
Mantis Bug Tracker GPL v2 according to Source Forge
  • Backend: PHP
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL 5.5+, MariaDB 5.5+ and PostgreSQL 9.2+ Oracle and MS SQL Server database are under experimental support
Bug and issue tracking, project management tool Well established, it has been around since 2000 Last time when I tried to install MantisBT, the installer required me to input the username and credential of a database user that has database admin privilege. CentOS project and etc.
Phabricator Apache 2.0 and commercial offering
  • Backend: PHP
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL 5.5+
Code review, SCM integration, bug and issue tracking tool Strong in code review and SCM integration Only support MySQL Facebook, FreeBSD and etc. Wikipedia has a list in here
OTRS GPL v3 and commercial offering
  • Backend: Perl
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL 5.0 or higher, 8+ is not supported MariaDB, PostgreSQL 9,2 or higher Oracle database for OTRS <= 8 OTRS 9 will not support Oracle database anymore
Help desk, issue and bug tracking Well established, it has been around since 2001. Can integrate with the company's ITSM add-on Last community edition was OTRS and is lagged behind, commercial offering already released OTRS 8. According to an old press release, 60% of DAX companies use the software made by OTRS Group.
Roundup Tracker Roundup Licensing and ZPL
  • Backend: Python
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL and PostgreSQL
Bug and issue tracking tool It has a long history, it has been around since 2001 Not having a fancy UI Python bug tracker and etc.
Jira Closed source. Pricing model is changing in 2021. Cloud version of Jira is free for projects less than ten users.
  • Backend: Java
  • Frontend: JS and HTML
  • Database: MySQL and PostgreSQL, Oracle, MS SQL Server Amazon Aurora (Jira data center only)
Bug and issue tracking tool, project management tool Well established, it has been around since 2002
  • Standalone server version would be gone in 2021 February.
  • Standalone server version would be out of support in 2024.
Lots of commercial companies and open source projects, here's a list

Bugzilla

Bugzilla is a rock solid bug and issue tracking software. It was originally developed and used by Mozilla project. It was released since 1998. It is used by many companies and open source project, like Mozilla Foundation, Linux Kernel, Red Hat, Apache and etc. If you look at the release timeline , you would notice it had fewer major release after 5.x (2016). So, the product is already very stable, but on the other hand it seems that it don't have major development going on.

Redmine

Redmine is an integrated project management and issue tracking application. It supports multiple projects, having Gantt chart, calendar, wiki per project and more. It is written in Ruby in Rails. You may have problem if your distribution always install the latest Ruby programming language. So, I suggest to use Ruby Version Manager to fix the Ruby version.

Request Tracker

Request Tracker (RT) version 5 has an updated and responsive UI, it also have a dark theme. It has a graphical lifecycle creater, which is unique among other applications that we had introduced in this article. Looks like RT still wanted to modernize itself and would have active development in the near feature. RT looks promising to me.

Mantis Bug Tracker

Mantis BT is a full fledged bug and issue tracking system. It has full text search, audit trails, wiki documentation integration with some wiki systems and etc. So, it is capable to be used a project management tool.

Phabricator

Phabricator was originally a tool used by Facebook internally. The principal developer Evan Priestley left Facebook to continue Phabricator's development. Besides bug and issue tracking use cases, Phabricator is very good when used as a code review tool and with very strong SCM integration.

OTRS

The OTRS software was backed by OTRS Group. Previously, the community edition could keep up with the commercial edition. However, it is not the case in recent releases. The community edition stops at OTRS 6.x, whereas the commercial edition is now at OTRS 8.x. Personally I would prefer choosing another open source solution if I want to use an open source bug tracking software.

Roundup Tracker

Roundup Tracker is the only software in this article that is written in Python. It does not have a fancy UI. But, it is used by Python programming language as their bug tracking application. If you have preference or requirement to use Python for hosting the bug and issue tracking software, Roundup Tracker is for you.

Jira

Well, Jira is a closed sourced application. It is great and used by many companies and projects. However, Atlassian has changed their pricing strategy in 2021 February. Standalone server version of all Atlassian products would be gone. The data center version of the Atlassian applications would have a price increase. They want you to migrate to cloud. Their cloud version of Jira is always free for 10 or less users. But you cannot own your data. It could be a problem for some people or projects.

Conclusion

Besides the list of applications that we had come across in this article, there are still lots of options out there. Like GitHub, GitLab, Gitea, Tuleap, Pagure and etc.


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