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Chapter 1. What Is CVS?

CVS is a version tracking system. It maintains records of files throughout their development, allows retrieval of any stored version of a file, and supports production of multiple versions. CVS enables multiple developers to work simultaneously on a single file without loss of data. Each developer works on her own copy of a file, and all changes are later merged into a single master copy. CVS can be integrated with bug-tracking and feature-tracking systems, and it provides features that can assist a project manager by tracking changes to a project over time.

CVS can be used in many environments for many purposes. It is used for maintaining configuration files, mail aliases, source code, FAQ files, art, music, articles, essays, and books. Some system administrators keep everything in the /etc directory under CVS in order to track system configuration changes over time. CVS is also used to store and automatically publish content to web sites and FTP servers.

CVS follows the Unix ethos of small programs doing what they do well. The RCS (Revision Control System) program handles revision control of single files, so CVS uses RCS to store file data. CVS adds features to RCS, most notably the abilities to work over collections of files, and to work out of a repository that may be local or remote.

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