Concurrent Versions System

The Concurrent Versions System, also known as the Concurrent Versioning System, is a free client-server revision control system in the field of software development. A version control system keeps track of all work and all changes in a set of files, and allows several developers to collaborate. Dick Grune developed CVS as a series of shell scripts in July 1986.
In addition to proprietary software developers, CVS became popular with the open-source software world and was released under the GNU General Public License. While there was regular development to add features and fix bugs in the past, including regular builds and test results, there have been no new releases since 2008.


CVS uses a client–server architecture: a server stores the current version of a project and its history, and clients connect to the server in order to "check out" a complete copy of the project, work on this copy and then later "check in" their changes. Typically, the client and server connect over a LAN or over the Internet, but client and server may both run on the same machine if CVS has the task of keeping track of the version history of a project with only local developers. The server software normally runs on Unix, while CVS clients may run on any major operating-system platform.
Several developers may work on the same project concurrently, each one editing files within their own "working copy" of the project, and sending their modifications to the server. To avoid conflicts, the server only accepts changes made to the most recent version of a file. Developers are therefore expected to keep their working copy up-to-date by incorporating other people's changes on a regular basis. This task is mostly handled automatically by the CVS client, requiring manual intervention only when an edit conflict arises between a checked-in modification and the yet-unchecked local version of a file.
If the check in operation succeeds, then the version numbers of all files involved automatically increment, and the CVS-server writes a user-supplied description line, the date and the author's name to its log files. CVS can also run external, user-specified log processing scripts following each commit. These scripts are installed by an entry in CVS's loginfo file, which can trigger email notification or convert the log data into a Web-based format.
Clients can also compare versions, request a complete history of changes, or check out a historical snapshot of the project.
CVS servers can allow "anonymous read access", wherein clients may check out and compare versions with either a blank or simple published password ; only the check-in of changes requires a personal account and password in these scenarios.
Clients can also use the "update" command to bring their local copies up-to-date with the newest version on the server. This eliminates the need for repeated downloading of the whole project.
CVS can also maintain different "branches" of a project. For instance, a released version of the software project may form one branch, used for bug fixes, while a version under current development, with major changes and new features, can form a separate branch.
CVS uses delta compression for efficient storage of different versions of the same file. This works well with large text files with few changes from one version to the next. This is usually the case for source code files. On the other hand, when CVS is told to store a file as binary, it will keep each individual version on the server. Storing files as binary is important in order to avoid corruption of binary files.


CVS labels a single project that it manages as a module. A CVS server stores the modules it manages in its repository. Programmers acquire copies of modules by checking out. The checked-out files serve as a working copy, sandbox or workspace. Changes to the working copy are reflected in the repository by committing them. To update is to acquire or merge the changes in the repository with the working copy.


CVS was designed:
Dick Grune developed CVS as a front end for the Revision Control System, an older version control system that manages individual files but not whole projects.
Grune publicly released the code on June 23, 1986.
The code that eventually evolved into the current version of CVS started with Brian Berliner in April 1989, with later input from Jeff Polk and many other contributors. Brian Berliner wrote introducing his improvements to the CVS program—which describes how the tool was extended and used internally by Prisma, a third-party developer working on the SunOS kernel, and was released for the benefit of the community under the GPL. On November 19, 1990, CVS version 1.0 was submitted to the Free Software Foundation for development and distribution.
CVS supports distributed, multi-site and offline operations due to the unreliability of the few computer networks that existed at the time CVS evolved.

Development status

There have been no official recent announcements indicating the project status.
Development of the Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris, HPUX, I5os and Mac OS X port of CVS has split off into a separate project named CVSNT, which is under current, active development.

Relationship with GNU

The relationship between CVS and the GNU project has long been somewhat ambiguous: the GNU web site distributed the program, labelling it "GNU package" on one page and "other GPL-licensed project" on another. In 2008, when development of CVS was transferred from the old website to the GNU Savannah hosting platform, it was placed in the "non-GNU" section. Further, on GNU's FTP download server, CVS is distributed in the "non-gnu" directory.


Over time, developers have created new version control systems based on CVS in order to add features, alter the operational model, and improve developers' productivity. CVS replacement projects include CVSNT, Subversion and .

IDEs with support for CVS