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To submit comments or errata regarding any of this material, please send email to [email protected] This chapter introduces the fundamentals of CVS, and then provides an in-depth guided tour of everyday CVS usage.Concepts are presented sequentially, so if you're new to CVS, the best way to read this is to start at the beginning and go straight through, without skipping anything.The remainder of that book - chapters 1, 3, 5, and 7 - deals with the challenges and philosophical issues of running an Open Source project using CVS. These chapters are released under the GNU General Public License.While the free chapters here constitute a complete CVS book by themselves, we certainly hope you'll like them enough to purchase a treeware copy of the entire book! For more information about free software in general, visit and particularly If someone else already has a lock on the file, they have to "release" it before you can lock it and start making changes (or, in some implementations, you may "steal" their lock, but that is often an unpleasant surprise for them and not good practice! This system is workable if the developers know each other, know who's planning to do what at any given time, and can communicate with each other quickly if someone cannot work because of access contention.However, if the developer group becomes too large or too spread out, dealing with all the locking issues begins to chip away at coding time; it becomes a constant hassle that can discourage people from getting real work done. Rather than requiring that developers coordinate with each other to avoid conflicts, CVS enables developers to edit simultaneously, assumes the burden of integrating all the changes, and keeps track of any conflicts.Personally, I always use revision control on my coding projects now - it's saved me many times.
Deciding when to update or when to commit is largely a matter of personal preference or project policy.The developer can simply say, in effect, "Give me the program as it was three weeks ago", or perhaps "Give me the program as it was at the time of our last public release".If you've never had this kind of convenient access to historical snapshots before, you may be surprised at how quickly you come to depend on it.For example, in the normal course of implementing a new feature, a developer may bring the program into a thoroughly broken state, where it will probably remain until the feature is mostly finished.Unfortunately, this is just the time when someone usually calls to report a bug in the last publicly released version.