"Server error, please contact an administrator" messages from bugs.launchpad.net

Asked by Nathan Stratton Treadway on 2010-03-24

I've been using bugs.launchpad.net successfully for a couple weeks to open new bugs, add comments to existing bugs, and manage my bug subscription status.

Yesterday I tried to submit a new comment on an existing bug, but when I clicked the "Post Comment" button the comment was not submitted, but instead I got an CSS "pop up" box saying

The following errors were encountered:
    * Server error, please contact an administrator.

When I experimented a little, I found that I actually get the same message when I try to click on the "Subscribe" in the box on the right side of the page (the "Subscribe" first turns red, then goes back to green and the error message pops up).

I tried logging out (using the "Log Out" button at the top of the screen) and logging back in, and also exiting and restarting Firefox, but I am still not able to make any changes to any bugs.

I do have cookies enabled for .lanchpad.net , and the system does display my name correctly at the top of the screen, so it would seem that I"m succesfully logged in.

Any idea why this would be happening to me (and why it would have started in the past few days)?


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(But I seem to be able to create questions and submit new comments just fine here on answers.launchpad.net .)

Deryck Hodge (deryck) said : #2

These type of errors are very hard to debug. If you have firebug installed in Firefox, you can turn on the console for the page, try to submit again and look at the firebug console error. You can also try to post a comment on the same bug at https://bugs.staging.launchpad.net/ to see if you get the same issues there.

Once you have a better error message, you can open a bug against malone about this.

Note, too, that we have plans to fix our JavaScript error reporting which will make the user-experience of the error better.


With the new version of Launchpad (the one just rolled out a couple hours ago, "Launchpad 10.03 (r9184))", I still get an error when I click on the "Subscribe" (or "Unsubscribe") link on a bug page with JavaScript enabled... but now I do get a much longer error message (so long that it doesn't actually fit in the CSS box that I'll cut-and-paste the text of it below.

I did try using Staging, and got a similar (if not exactly identical) error message there.

I will try to follow up on the hints about REFERRER headers, but don't believe I would have changed anything in my Firefox configuration during the time between when the pages stopped working (March 23) and when that had been working a day or two earlier. I didn't see any mention of any changes to Launchpad during that timeframe in the Launchpad blog, but is it possible that something got changed without being mentioned there?


The following errors were encountered:

    * Error: Launchpad system error @import url(https://launchpad.net/+icing/rev9184/combo.css); fieldset.collapsed div, fieldset div.collapsed {display: none;} fieldset.collapsible div, fieldset div.collapsed {display: block;} var cookie_scope = '; Path=/; Secure; Domain=.launchpad.net'; // Define a global YUI sandbox that should be used by everyone. var LPS = YUI(); LPS.use('node', 'lp', function(Y) { Y.on('load', function(e) { sortables_init(); initInlineHelp(); Y.lp.activate_collapsibles(); activateFoldables(); activateConstrainBugExpiration(); }, window); // Hook up the function that dismisses the help window if we click // anywhere outside of it. Y.on('click', handleClickOnPage, window); }); Nathan Stratton Treadway • No REFERER Header Launchpad requires a REFERER header to perform this action. There is no REFERER header present. This can be caused by configuring your browser to block REFERER headers. Unblock REFERER headers for launchpad.net and try again, or see the FAQ Why does Launchpad require a REFERER header? for more information. You can also join the #launchpad IRC support channel on irc.freenode.net for further assistance. • Take the tour • Read the guide © 2004-2010 Canonical Ltd. • Terms of use • Contact us • System status LP.client.links['me'] = '/~nathanst';

Deryck Hodge (deryck) said : #4

This is a recent change in Launchpad where we require a referrer header

Do you have a extension for FF that blocks referrer header for you? You can also use about:config to make sure this setting isn't changed in your FF install. If you didn't change it intentionally, I don't think you have to worry about the config option unless an extension has changed it.


I have a few exensions installed, but I don't believe any of them would affect the Referer behavior.

Do you know any place I can read more about this change to Launchpad?

(I'm curious, for instance, if the requirement is only applied to JavaScript requests, or if it applies to regular browsing between pages, too. I'm only noticing problems with the AJAX-type requests, but I don't know if that fact is significant....)

I checked about:config and confirmed that network.http.sendRefererHeader=2 and network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer=true (i.e. both are set to the default value).

By the way, when I open the JavaScript Console, I do get a bunch of errors as the page is initially loaded, but nothing at all shows up there from when I click the "Unsubscribe" link on through the point when I dismiss the error-message text box.

Deryck Hodge (deryck) said : #7

No one else seems to report problems with the AJAX requests, so something must be different about your particular setup. I'm sorry that I can't help much beyond that info. Unfortnately, this change isn't documented well beyond our code.


David Wagner (daw-bugzilla) said : #8

I got a similar error message today. I block the Referer header, which probably prompted the error message. However, the formatting of the error message was off (similar to that listed in Nathan's 03-31 example). It's one thing to give a properly formatted error message in that case, but another to give a weird popup with strange Javascript/CSS in the text of the error message text box.

(The FAQ #1024 answer as why Launchpad blocks Referer headers is frustrating, too, as it reflects a lack of understanding of CSRF defense.)

chocolateboy (chocolateboy) said : #9

As David Wagner says, this is a bug in Launchpad that reflects (and advertises) a poor understanding of CSRF.

Alasdair G. Kergon (agk2) said : #10

Caught by this too today when trying to add a comment to a bug and a box of gibberish appeared. Quite surprised nobody cared enough to fix it yet (or even to provide a clean error message properly documented). Ironic to think I need to make my browser temporarily less secure/private to work around it - not a good thing to be requiring folk to do IMHO.

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