Every project, whether it's developing a software application or just about any other computer related task that generates files, needs some level of organization. How often have you been working on a development project and needed to get at a piece of code that was written at a certain time on a certain day? Could you build a version of your application that is 6 months old? Can you get the differences between versions of a piece of code? If you answer "no" to any of these questions, read on. We're going to show you how to solve these problems without spending a dime.

Version control software has been around for quite some time. CVS (Concurrent versions system) has been around since 1986 and is open source software, licensed under the GNU license agreement. CVS was based originally on UNIX shell scripts and over the years, it has matured into a production-ready application that manages a large number of software projects all over the world. Although CVS is used typically to manage projects that contain source code, it can be used to manage just about any file that you want. CVS accepts files in either binary or text format, so you can manage just about any type of file out there.

Although CVS has been predominantly a tool used by the UNIX world, there is a windows port that is quite mature. CVSNT started off as a port of CVS v1.10 in 1998 and then 1.11 to Windows. The project blossomed from there and now runs on just about every major development platform out there: Windows NT/2000/XP/2003, Mac OS X v10.2.6-10.3.x, RedHat, Sun Solaris, and HPUX. AnandTech has been using CVSNT on Windows 2000 for quite some time, to manage our source code, and it has been rock solid since day one.

Installation and Configuration


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  • skunkbuster - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    cute turtle !!
  • viscount1baby - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    Source Gear Vault (http://www.sourcegear.com/) is free for a single user. Much better if your just looking for something for yourself for home usage. It stores it's content is a sql server database too, so backup is a snap. Reply
  • starjax - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    they all provide the same funtionality. cvsnt probably has the most documentation. and if you need to eventually use it on more systems, its scalability is cheaper. Reply
  • Pauli - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    Hey starjax (or anyone else reading this) - I have been using Clearcase for years at work (Windows environment). Which of these free tools is closest to the Clearcase environment? I am looking only for a system that will be run on a single XP PC. Reply
  • starjax - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    clearcase.... expensive, administrative heavy, resource heavy (server side). Used only in environments where there are many software/revisions to track. WHere I work we have the largest install base for clearcase and run the largest vob's (up to 100gig). yes thats what I said. most vobs are aroun 3-4 gigs. Reply
  • JCheng - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    Here's a list of improvements Subversion holds over CVS:


    For me, it's hard to imagine using source control without atomic commits (which SVN has and CVS doesn't), but then, I cut my teeth on Perforce which has had them forever.
  • neogodless - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    Well I can't get past the step of creating my first module... "bad login or user" sort of error every time. No idea how to get past that. There's nowhere to even enter a password.... Reply
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    WooDaddy, never used ClearCase.. Either CVS or Subversion should handle just about any project though. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    ncage, yep the old visual source safe was a joke. However, from what i hear the new Team System stuff coming out with Visual Source Safe 2005 is supposed to be very slick. I linked to it in alternative source control products. Reply
  • WooDaddy - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    How does this compare to ClearCase? Reply

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