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CVSUTILS(1) General Commands Manual CVSUTILS(1)


cvsutils - CVS utilities for use in working directories


cvsu [options]
cvsco [ options ]
cvsdiscard [ options ]
cvspurge [ options ]
cvstrim [ options ]
cvschroot [ options ]
cvsdo [ options ]


The idea of cvsutils is to facilitate working with the files in the working directory of a developer using CVS (Concurrent Versions System).

From the point of view of CVS, working directories have low value, since they can easily be recreated using the cvs checkout command. Also the cvs update command will show the status of the files, i.e. whether they have been modified, added or removed.

CVS in it's current state is a client-server system that does most of its work on the server side. CVS provides only few (if any) means for managing the working directory without communicating with the server.

There are, however, several reasons why such means are necessary:

  • There is enough information on the client side to create fast tools for sorting and purging the working directory without contacting the CVS server.
  • Checking out a big module over a slow line can take too much time.
  • There should be support for disconnected operations.
  • CVS poses certain unnecessary restrictions on read-only users, e.g. cvs add command doesn't work for them.


cvsu is "cvs update offline". It lists the files found in the current directory (or in the directories which you specify). Following is taken into account:

  • Attributes of the file.
  • Information about the file in CVS/Entries.
  • Timestamp of the file compared to the timestamp stored in CVS/Entries.

Run cvsu --help to see supported command line options. The options can be abbreviated. This functionality is provided by Perl, and can vary from one machine to another.


cvsco is a "cruel checkout". In other words, it removes results of compilation and discards local changes. It deletes all the files except listed unmodified ones and checks out everything which seems to be missing. Please note, that cvsco doesn't update files which haven't been modified locally. It only reloads missing files and files which it erases.


cvsdiscard is "discard my changes". In other words, it discards local changes but keeps results of compilation. It works like cvsco, but it only deletes files which are likely to cause merge conflicts.


cvspurge leaves all files known to CVS, but removes the rest. Unlike cvsco, it doesn't remove local changes. It is useful to test local changes in the otherwise clean source tree.


cvstrim removes files and directories unknown to CVS. Files listed in .cvsignore are not removed. The idea is to remove the files that are not resulted from the normal build process - backups, coredumps etc. cvstrim relies on .cvsignore files being correct. Note that the backups for modified files are removed.


cvschroot makes it possible to change CVS/Root in all subdirectories to the given value. Currently the only argument accepted is the new CVSROOT value. Old-style CVS/Repository files that contain the full path to the repository are updated to reflect the change. New-style CVS/Repository don't need to be changed. If the environment variable CVSROOT is defined, it overrides the contents of CVS/Root. In other words, it is treated as the old CVS root.


cvsdo simulates some of the CVS commands (currently add, remove and diff) without any access to the CVS server. Using cvsdo add and cvsdo remove allows you to create diffs with cvs diff -N, and all removed and added files will appear in the diff correctly, as if you had used cvs add and cvs remove respectively.

cvsdo diff tries to locate the backup copies of the modified files. If they can be found, they are compared with the current version using diff. Only those backup copies are used that have the modification date equal the date listed in CVS/Entries for the modified file. cvsdo diff patches the diff output to make it more robust to apply. An exception is made for files named "ChangeLog" - in this case diff will be instructed to omit all context lines, so that the patch can be applied even if other changes have been written to the ChangeLog. Also the added files are handled properly. The header of the diff output is patched in such way that at least GNU patch will create a new file when the resulting patch is applied and remove that file when the patch is reverted.


cvsutils is covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL).


cvs(1), cvs2cl(1).


This manual page was written by Uwe Hermann <>, for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others).

February 27, 2002