Chapter 7. Using Source Control (CVS)

What Is CVS?

CVS is a system used by multiple developers to share a centralized source code repository from which they can all check out files, make changes to those files, and then check the modified files back in. Other developers may also concurrently work on the same files, with merges of overlapping changes being handled by CVS at check-in time.

Perhaps you have already used revision control. This is the software development process of checking code incrementally into some sort of automated repository. Doing this allows programmers to retrieve not only the latest revision but also previous revisions when they want to revert, that is, drop back to a previous revision, perhaps to recover some lost code. Also, automated revisioning systems allow development projects to branch code so that a current or past release can be maintained and have bugs fixed while the main line of the code continues to progress toward the next release. This avoids having the less-tested technology under development in the main line (or in another branch) injected into the stable release.


The terms “version control” and “versioning” are used interchangeably with the term “revision control.”

Conceptually (and often in implementation) CVS is a shell around and extension of the Revision Control System (RCS). RCS deals with storing revisions of single files under the effective control of a single developer. Whereas RCS deals with files, CVS deals with ...

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