Next Previous Contents

1. Preface

CVS Mini HOWTO is a tutorial mini-HOWTO on how to set up and use CVS for personal user or simple shared projects. It goes through things step by step with examples. To use it effectively, it is strongly suggested that you try the things illustrated as you go along.

It was written primarily to teach colleagues and students with whom I collaborate the rudiments of CVS, as I use it as an essential component of the management of any project I'm involved in that generates documents and other data objects (such as teaching a course as part of a team, guiding students in research involving programming, writing papers).

The HOWTO appears to fill a community need -- a quick google reveals only one standard-format HOWTO for CVS, and that one is extremely terse and specific to NetBSD. This particular HOWTO is structured as a tutorial that leads you step by step through the basic commands required to set up CVS root repositories for various purposes and use to CVS to manage project archives within those repositories.

It deliberately omits the setup and use of CVS with pserver (web-based access) as this is documented a variety of places and because we do not use this locally (internal to our department LAN) due to security concerns -- vulnerabilities have been found and patched within the last year, and while the are patched, one always worries about whether there are more. In any event, this requires root privileges to set up and manage and therefore almost by definition is advanced usage (in my opinion) and hence is inappropriate for this document.

In other words, this is very much a Getting Started with CVS sort of document -- CVS is very powerful and hence very complex, and given half a chance it will, as they say, eat your meatloaf for you. However to my own direct experience, well over 95% of all CVS usage in a simple LAN environment is encompassed within the commands tutorially demonstrated in this HOWTO. Many users will never need all that power; users that do will need to master the conventional and relatively simple aspects of CVS documented here before using the actual manual and more advanced documentation to learn how to (for example) manage multiple branches of code anyway.

At any rate, if you are interested in learning to use CVS (and you should be, if you work at all with dynamic information of any type whatsoever) you many find this document useful. Feel free to provide me with feedback, but remember that I did not write CVS and am not a CVS developer, so any actual bug reports or feature requests should probably go to the CVS developers via its home page:

There are several additional sources of tutorial information, manuals, and other documentation on the primary website, but unfortunately none are formatted in the familiar HOWTO style and they tend (in my opinion) to be too simple (omitting enough information to be able to set up or participate in a project as a member of a group) or too complex (an exhaustive manual complete with visuals and lots of detail and instructions for Windows as well as Unices). Nevertheless, new CVS users will find it worthwhile to visit this site and quickly browse and bookmark these resources as they will provide additional support for this document when some feature or detail it omits is needed for a project.

Note Well! This mini-HOWTO was developed on a linux system and makes the following assumptions:

I'll try to indicate any others as they occur to me.

1.1 Copyright

CVS Mini Howto Copyright (c) 2003 by Robert G. Brown

Please freely copy and distribute (sell or give away) this document in any format. It's requested that corrections and/or comments be forwarded to the document maintainer. You may create a derivative work and distribute it provided that you:

If you're considering making a derived work other than a translation, it's requested that you discuss your plans with the current maintainer.

1.2 Disclaimer

Use the information in this document at your own risk. I disavow any potential liability for the contents of this document. Use of the concepts, examples, and/or other content of this document is entirely at your own risk.

All copyrights are owned by their owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.

You are strongly recommended to take a backup of your system before major installation and backups at regular intervals.

1.3 News

This is the first release of this document, so there isn't much news.

1.4 Credits

I gratefully acknowledge the help all the little people that have helped me build this mini-howto for CVS. Sniff! Now if they would just get out of my brain... hmmm, time for my medicine again.

Next Previous Contents