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prepare RCS project for processing with cvs2svn

Project description

rcs4cvs2svn prepares an RCS project for processing with cvs2svn.

rcs4cvs2svn is useful for developers who still have ancient source code floating around in RCS repositories and want to move it to a modern SCM system.

While rcs4cvs2svn does not provide any possibility to directly migrate to any other SCM system, it creates a copy of your RCS repository that can be processed by cvs2svn.

That way, you’ll end up with a Subversion repository, which already may be sufficient. Alternatively, Subversion offers a sound base for further migration to another SCM such as Git or Mercurial, as most SCM vendors provide tools to migrate from SVN but not from RCS.

(You can of course use rcs4cvs2svn as replacement for various rcs2cvs scripts floating around. Unlike many of these scripts, rcs4cvs2svn can process filenames with space characters and handles any errors it encounters.)


Usage is simple:

cvs -d /path/to/cvs/repository init
python rcs4cvs2svn /path/to/rcs/project /path/to/cvs/repository

There are a couple of options, for more information run:

python rcs4cvs2svn --help


This section describes how to migrate an RCS repository to CSV and then to Subversion.

First, create a simple RCS repository for a project called “hello” which contains a single file, “hello.txt” with 2 revisions:

mkdir -p hello/RCS
cd hello
echo "hello world!" >hello.txt
echo "Added greetings.\n." | ci -u hello.txt
co -l hello.txt
echo "hello space!" >>hello.txt
echo "Added more greetings.\n." | ci -u hello.txt

Next, create a new CVS repository which will act as destination:

cvs -d /tmp/hello_cvs init

Now migrate the the RCS repository to CSV.

python hello/ /tmp/hello_cvs/

Because CVS still is a very dated way to manage a software project, let’s move on to the next step of evolution: Subversion. You will need cvs2svn, available from <>.

While there are several ways to convert CVS to SVN, the easiest for our task is to simple create a SVN dumpfile containing the CVS as trunk:

cvs2svn --trunk-only --dumpfile hello.dump /tmp/hello_cvs/

Now you can create a SVN repository and load the trunk into it:

svnadmin create /tmp/hello_svn/
svnadmin load /tmp/hello_svn/ <hello.dump

Moving on to even more advanced SCM systems is left as an exercise to the reader.


Copyright (c) 2006-2010, Thomas Aglassinger. All rights reserved. Distributed under the BSD License.

Version information

Version 1.0, 2010-07-04

Initial public release.

Version 0.9, 2006-05-01

Initial internal version used to convert some of my own projects.

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