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Utilizing Winqual Crash Data

What’s Winqual?

Winqual is a site and service provided by Microsoft that enables us to look at data collected from Microsoft Windows Error Reporting (WER). If you’ve ever run into a Firefox crash/hang, seen something like

and clicked “Send Error Report”, your crash was reported to Microsoft and made available to Mozilla through the Winqual website.

Why should we care?

Any data that goes through WER is not currently making it into our crash reporting system, which makes it difficult for us to use our normal processes and weigh these issues against those already being tracked internally. Additionally, we know that there are some blind spots in our current crash reporting (for instance hangs) which Winqual does have additional information for.

The Plan

Our goals are to

  1. Identify major issues in Firefox being reported through WER, and fix them
  2. Find out why these crashes aren’t being caught by Crash Reporter, and fix those bugs as well
  3. Address the fact that hangs are not currently going through our crash system by resolving bug 429592

The first two goals have some caveats as to how we can handle the Winqual data and conduct our investigation due to Microsoft’s terms. Only Mozilla employees can access the Winqual site, crash dumps, and data that is pulled from those dumps (such as a backtrace).

In order to make forward progress despite these stipulations, our plan is to give a subset of our crash kill team access to Winqual and the associated crash dumps, and have them file bugs into a new Firefox Bugzilla component called “Winqual Reports”. The bugs within this component will unfortunately need to be hidden. Once the investigation has progressed far enough to identify a reproducible case or fix, the implementation will be tracked in a second bug viewable by all.

We understand that this bug strategy is a deviation from the norm, but we also feel that the issues currently tracked in Winqual are important enough to follow up on. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below. Thanks!

Categories: Firefox, Mozilla, Planet.