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Wheeler: Comments on OSS/FS Software Configuration Management (SCM) Systems

Mar 09, 2004, 13:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David A. Wheeler)

"In my opinion three OSS/FS SCM systems get the most discussion: CVS, Subversion, and GNU Arch. There are certainly others, and I don't mean to intentionally exclude them, but I just haven't had the time to examine the others in as much depth (Monotone, in particular, looks very interesting). Besides, knowing about these three will help you understand the rest. So, here's a brief discussion about each:

  1. "CVS is extremely popular, and it does the job. However, it's showing its age through a number of awkward limitations: changes are tracked per-file instead of per-change, commits aren't atomic, renaming files and directories is awkward, and its branching limitations mean that you'd better faithfully tag things or there'll be trouble later. The CVS maintainers have also declared that the code has become too crusty to effectively maintain. These problems led the main CVS developers to start over and create Subversion.
  2. "Subversion (SVN) is a new system, intending to be a simple replacement of CVS. Subversion is basically a re-implementation of CVS with its warts fixed, and it still works the same basic way (supporting a centralized repository). Like CVS, subversion by itself is intended to support a centralized repository for developers and doesn't handle decentralized development well; the svk project extends subversion to support decentralized development..."

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