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cvs command in Linux with Examples

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  • Last Updated : 27 Apr, 2021

cvs(Concurrent Versions System) command in Linux is used to store the history of a file. Whenever a file gets corrupted or anything goes wrong “cvs” help us to go back to the previous version and restore our file. 



cvs [cvs_options] cvs_command [command_options] [command_args]

Policy Options: 

  • –allow-root=rootdir : Specify repository on the command line. It also specify legal cvsroot directory. See ‘Password authentication server’ in the CVS manual.
  • -d, cvs_root_directory : It uses cvs_root_directory as the directory path name of the repository. It also overrides the $CVSROOT environment variable.
  • -e, editor-command : It uses the editor command specified for entering log information. It also overrides $CVSEDITOR and $EDITOR environment variables.
  • -f : It does not read the ~/.cvsrc file.
  • -H : It display CVS command help.
  • -n : It does not make any changes to the root repository and also prints out what would happen if the “-n” flag was not used.
  • -Q : Quiet mode. Less verbose than normal.
  • -q : Marginally quiet mode. Reports of recursion are suppressed.
  • -v : Show CVS software version and copyright information.
  • -w : Make new working files read-write. Overrides the setting of the $CVSREAD environment variable.

CVS Commands: 

  • add : Add a new file/directory to the repository.
  • admin : Administration front-end for RCS.
  • annotate : Shows the last revision where each line was modified.
  • checkout : Checkout sources for editing.
  • commit : Check files into the repository.
  • diff : Show differences between revisions.
  • edit : Get ready to edit a watched file.
  • editors : See who is editing a watched file.
  • export : Export sources from CVS, similar to checkout.
  • history : Show repository access history.
  • import : Import sources into CVS, using vendor branches.
  • init : It create a CVS repository if it doesn’t exist.
  • log : Print out history information for files.
  • rdiff : Create ‘patch’ format diffs between revisions.
  • status : Display status information on checked out files.
  • tag : It adds a symbolic tag to checked out version of files.
  • unedit : Undo anedit command.
  • update : Bring work tree in sync with repository.
  • version : Show current CS version(s).
  • watch : Set watches.

Setting up the environment for CVS: 

  • Set environment variables: (to add to your .bashrc file) 



export CVSROOT='/home/linux/cvs_root'     - directory for CVS source code repository
export CVSEDITOR=/bin/vi


  • Set environment variables: (to add to your .cshrc file) (for csh users) 


setenv CVSROOT  '/home/linux/cvs_root'
setenv CVSEDITOR /bin/vi



  • To create a Repository (-d command ): The first thing to do after starting the environment is to create a repository. 


cvs -d /home/linux/cvs_root init

  • To add a Project (-m command ): After the repository is created, It’s time to create a project and add it into the CVS to have it’s revision control. 


cvs import -m "CVS START" cvs_file myfile start

  • To check out a Project (checkout or co command): This will help to create CVS working copy after the project is check out. 


cvs checkout cvs_file

  • To add Sub-directories or files (add command ): This will help to add files or sub-directories to the CVS repository. 


cvs add cvs_file_1

  • To commit the file (commit command ): This will help to permanently add files or sub-directories to the CVS repository. 


cvs commit myfile

  • To update the Working Directory (update command): It updates the working directory from the repository and also tells the status of files. 


cvs update

  • To remove file from CVS (remove command): It will help to remove unwanted files permanently from the CVS repository. 


cvs remove myfile


  • To check for the manual page of cvs command, use the following command: 


man cvs
  • To check the help page of cvs command, use the following command: 


cvs --help command_name


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