Pete Freitag Pete Freitag

Subversion Better than CVS?

Updated on November 14, 2023
By Pete Freitag

I have been reading up on Subversion - an open source control product, my friend Tim provoked me into this. I recommend checking out the Subversion Book ( (html, pdf) - which is a draft of an upcoming book Version Control With Subversion (O'Reilly & Associates). It gives a good introduction of source control concepts, as well as info on using Subversion. Subversion 1.0 was just released in Feb.

Subversion is similar to cvs, they are both: open source, use the copy-modify-merge version control model, and have similar command line syntax. One of my peeves with CVS was the hassle of dealing with binary files - subversion treats all files as binary, and does binary diffs. It also has better support for changing directory structure. And possibly one of the more interesting features, to me at least, is the way it runs on the server - you access the repository with url's (eg http://server/module, file://x/y/z, etc). Subversion has an Apache module that uses webdav for the server. This is nice because many of us web developers are already familiar with administering Apache, and you can leverage Apache for authentications, and encryption (https). From what I have seen so far subversion looks to be superior to CVS, at least for my needs. Have you used both?, thoughts?

subversion version control cvs

Subversion Better than CVS? was first published on March 04, 2004.

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Yep, it's better. I'm liking it so far on my trial stuff. I did have some problems with the database corrupting beyond repair if your server crashes in the middle of an action (it was due to a completely unrelated issue)... yeah, that sucked. Also TortoiseCVS is a bit nicer than TortoiseSVN IMHO. Overall though, the positives outweigh the negatives.
by Nathan Strutz on 03/05/2004 at 11:03:22 AM UTC
Why does it need apache? CVS does not need a server just a root respository. seems to unnessesarally rely on other products. I use ISS on a windows box. how can I use subversion without installing apache
by Geoffrey on 08/30/2006 at 6:22:33 AM UTC
Subversion doesn't technically *need* Apache to work - it has it's own communications protocol that you could use if you want to. However, most folks find the interface though Apache WebDAV to be easier to use.
by Dannyboy on 10/30/2009 at 3:51:19 PM UTC