MirBSD manpage: rcsintro(1)

RCSINTRO(1)         UNIX Programmer's Manual          RCSINTRO(1)


     rcsintro - introduction to RCS commands


     The Revision Control System (RCS) manages multiple revisions
     of files. RCS automates the storing, retrieval, logging,
     identification, and merging of revisions.  RCS is useful for
     text that is revised frequently, for example programs, docu-
     mentation, graphics, papers, and form letters.

     The basic user interface is extremely simple.  The novice
     only needs to learn two commands: ci(1) and co(1). ci, short
     for "check in", deposits the contents of a file into an
     archival file called an RCS file.  An RCS file contains all
     revisions of a particular file. co, short for "check out",
     retrieves revisions from an RCS file.

     Functions of RCS

     +    Store and retrieve multiple revisions of text.  RCS
          saves all old revisions in a space efficient way.
          Changes no longer destroy the original, because the
          previous revisions remain accessible.  Revisions can be
          retrieved according to ranges of revision numbers, sym-
          bolic names, dates, authors, and states.

     +    Maintain a complete history of changes. RCS logs all
          changes automatically. Besides the text of each revi-
          sion, RCS stores the author, the date and time of
          check-in, and a log message summarizing the change. The
          logging makes it easy to find out what happened to a
          module, without having to compare source listings or
          having to track down colleagues.

     +    Resolve access conflicts.  When two or more programmers
          wish to modify the same revision, RCS alerts the pro-
          grammers and prevents one modification from corrupting
          the other.

     +    Maintain a tree of revisions.  RCS can maintain
          separate lines of development for each module.  It
          stores a tree structure that represents the ancestral
          relationships among revisions.

     +    Merge revisions and resolve conflicts. Two separate
          lines of development of a module can be coalesced by
          merging. If the revisions to be merged affect the same
          sections of code, RCS alerts the user about the over-
          lapping changes.

     +    Control releases and configurations. Revisions can be
          assigned symbolic names and marked as released, stable,

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          experimental, etc. With these facilities, configura-
          tions of modules can be described simply and directly.

     +    Automatically identify each revision with name, revi-
          sion number, creation time, author, etc. The identifi-
          cation is like a stamp that can be embedded at an
          appropriate place in the text of a revision. The iden-
          tification makes it simple to determine which revisions
          of which modules make up a given configuration.

     +    Minimize secondary storage.  RCS needs little extra
          space for the revisions (only the differences).  If
          intermediate revisions are deleted, the corresponding
          deltas are compressed accordingly.

     Getting Started with RCS
     Suppose you have a file f.c that you wish to put under con-
     trol of RCS. If you have not already done so, make an RCS
     directory with the command

          mkdir  RCS

     Then invoke the check-in command

          ci  f.c

     This command creates an RCS file in the RCS directory,
     stores f.c into it as revision 1.1, and deletes f.c. It also
     asks you for a description.  The description should be a
     synopsis of the contents of the file.  All later check-in
     commands will ask you for a log entry, which should summar-
     ize the changes that you made.

     Files in the RCS directory are called RCS files; the others
     are called working files. To get back the working file f.c
     in the previous example, use the check-out command

          co  f.c

     This command extracts the latest revision from the RCS file
     and writes it into f.c. If you want to edit f.c, you must
     lock it as you check it out with the command

          co  -l  f.c

     You can now edit f.c.

     Suppose after some editing you want to know what changes
     that you have made. The command

          rcsdiff  f.c

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     tells you the difference between the most recently checked-
     in version and the working file. You can check the file back
     in by invoking

          ci  f.c

     This increments the revision number properly.

     If ci complains with the message

          ci error: no lock set by your name

     then you have tried to check in a file even though you did
     not lock it when you checked it out. Of course, it is too
     late now to do the check-out with locking, because another
     check-out would overwrite your modifications.  Instead,

          rcs  -l  f.c

     This command will lock the latest revision for you, unless
     somebody else got ahead of you already.  In this case,
     you'll have to negotiate with that person.

     Locking assures that you, and only you, can check in the
     next update, and avoids nasty problems if several people
     work on the same file. Even if a revision is locked, it can
     still be checked out for reading, compiling, etc.  All that
     locking prevents is a check-in by anybody but the locker.

     If your RCS file is private, i.e., if you are the only per-
     son who is going to deposit revisions into it, strict lock-
     ing is not needed and you can turn it off. If strict locking
     is turned off, the owner of the RCS file need not have a
     lock for check-in; all others still do.  Turning strict
     locking off and on is done with the commands

          rcs  -U  f.c     and     rcs  -L  f.c

     If you don't want to clutter your working directory with RCS
     files, create a subdirectory called RCS in your working
     directory, and move all your RCS files there.  RCS commands
     will look first into that directory to find needed files.
     All the commands discussed above will still work, without
     any modification. (Actually, pairs of RCS and working files
     can be specified in three ways: (a) both are given, (b) only
     the working file is given, (c) only the RCS file is given.
     Both RCS and working files may have arbitrary path prefixes;
     RCS commands pair them up intelligently.)

     To avoid the deletion of the working file during check-in
     (in case you want to continue editing or compiling), invoke

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          ci  -l  f.c     or     ci  -u  f.c

     These commands check in f.c as usual, but perform an impli-
     cit check-out.  The first form also locks the checked in
     revision, the second one doesn't.  Thus, these options save
     you one check-out operation. The first form is useful if you
     want to continue editing, the second one if you just want to
     read the file. Both update the identification markers in
     your working file (see below).

     You can give ci the number you want assigned to a checked in
     revision.  Assume all your revisions were numbered 1.1, 1.2,
     1.3, etc., and you would like to start release 2. The com-

          ci  -r2  f.c     or     ci  -r2.1  f.c

     assigns the number 2.1 to the new revision. From then on, ci
     will number the subsequent revisions with 2.2, 2.3, etc.
     The corresponding co commands

          co  -r2  f.c     and     co  -r2.1  f.c

     retrieve the latest revision numbered 2.x and the revision
     2.1, respectively. co without a revision number selects the
     latest revision on the trunk, i.e. the highest revision with
     a number consisting of two fields.  Numbers with more than
     two fields are needed for branches. For example, to start a
     branch at revision 1.3, invoke

          ci  -r1.3.1  f.c

     This command starts a branch numbered 1 at revision 1.3, and
     assigns the number to the new revision.  For more
     information about branches, see rcsfile(5).

     Automatic Identification
     RCS can put special strings for identification into your
     source and object code.  To obtain such identification,
     place the marker


     into your text, for instance inside a comment. RCS will
     replace this marker with a string of the form

          $Id:  filename  revision  date  time  author  state  $

     With such a marker on the first page of each module, you can
     always see with which revision you are working. RCS keeps
     the markers up to date automatically. To propagate the mark-
     ers into your object code, simply put them into literal

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     character strings.  In C, this is done as follows:

          static char rcsid[] = "$Id$";

     The command ident extracts such markers from any file, even
     object code and dumps. Thus, ident lets you find out which
     revisions of which modules were used in a given program.

     You may also find it useful to put the marker $Log$ into
     your text, inside a comment.  This marker accumulates the
     log messages that are requested during check-in. Thus, you
     can maintain the complete history of your file directly
     inside it. There are several additional identification mark-
     ers; see co(1) for details.


     Author: Walter F. Tichy.
     Manual Page Revision: 1.2; Release Date: 2012/05/21.
     Copyright (C) 1982, 1988, 1989 Walter F. Tichy.
     Copyright (C) 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 Paul Eggert.


     ci(1), co(1), cvs(1), ident(1), merge(1), rcs(1),
     rcsclean(1), rcsdiff(1), rcsfreeze(1), rcsmerge(1), rlog(1),
     Walter F. Tichy, RCS--A System for Version Control,
     Software--Practice & Experience 15, 7 (July 1985), 637-654.

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