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Difference Between CVS and SVN

computerCVS vs SVN

CVS (Concurrent Versions System) and SVN (SubVersioN) are two version control file systems that are popularly used by teams who are collaborating on a single project. These systems allow the collaborators to keep track of the changes that are made and know who is developing which and whether a branch should be applied to the main trunk or not. CVS is the much older of the two and it has been the standard collaboration tool for a lot of people. SVN is much newer and it introduces a lot of improvements to address the demands of most people.

Probably the biggest improvement to SVN is the addition of atomic commits. Atomic commits allow each commit to be applied in full or not at all. This can be quite useful when the server crashes in the middle of a commit. With SVN, the commit can be rolled back while CVS could not undo the partial commit. Another addition is the ability to cleanly rename and move the files in the repository. With SVN the files that have been renamed or removed still carry their revision history and metadata. CVS is also unable to push any new changes to parent repositories while it can be achieved in SVN with the use of some tools. These features are simply not supported by CVS or were not a part of its initial design and often cause a lot of problems for some people.

In terms of accessing the either via a network, both support proprietary protocols that can be tunneled through an SSH connection to ensure the security of the information that is being transmitted across the network. SVN adds a little bit more with WebDAV+DeltaV. This protocol is based on HTTP and HTTPS and provides users with another option to connect to the SVN.

For most people who are just starting with SVN and CVS, SVN is the superior and logical option between the two. It provides the user with the right feature set to match his needs. The only reason to keep using CVS is if you are stuck with a legacy system that is quite difficult to move to an SVN system.

1. SVN is newer and more advanced compared to the much older CVS
2. SVN allows atomic commits while CVS does not
3. SVN allows renaming and moving while CVS does not
4. SVN allows for propagating changes to parent repositories while CVS does not
5. SVN supports two networking protocols while CVS only supports one

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