A.3. Anonymous CVS

A.3.1. Introduction

Anonymous CVS (or, as it is otherwise known, anoncvs) is a feature provided by the CVS utilities bundled with FreeBSD for synchronizing with a remote CVS repository. Among other things, it allows users of FreeBSD to perform, with no special privileges, read-only CVS operations against one of the FreeBSD project's official anoncvs servers. To use it, one simply sets the CVSROOT environment variable to point at the appropriate anoncvs server, provides the well-known password "anoncvs" with the cvs login command, and then uses the cvs(1) command to access it like any local repository.


The cvs login command, stores the passwords that are used for authenticating to the CVS server in a file called .cvspass in your HOME directory. If this file does not exist, you might get an error when trying to use cvs login for the first time. Just make an empty .cvspass file, and retry to login.

While it can also be said that the CVSup and anoncvs services both perform essentially the same function, there are various trade-offs which can influence the user's choice of synchronization methods. In a nutshell, CVSup is much more efficient in its usage of network resources and is by far the most technically sophisticated of the two, but at a price. To use CVSup, a special client must first be installed and configured before any bits can be grabbed, and then only in the fairly large chunks which CVSup calls collections.

Anoncvs, by contrast, can be used to examine anything from an individual file to a specific program (like ls or grep) by referencing the CVS module name. Of course, anoncvs is also only good for read-only operations on the CVS repository, so if it is your intention to support local development in one repository shared with the FreeBSD project bits then CVSup is really your only option.

A.3.2. Using Anonymous CVS

Configuring cvs(1) to use an Anonymous CVS repository is a simple matter of setting the CVSROOT environment variable to point to one of the FreeBSD project's anoncvs servers. At the time of this writing, the following servers are available:

  • Austria: :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.at.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (Use cvs login and enter any password when prompted.)

  • France: :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.fr.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (pserver (password "anoncvs"), ssh (no password))

  • Germany: :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.de.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (Use cvs login and enter the password "anoncvs" when prompted.)

  • Germany: :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs2.de.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (rsh, pserver, ssh, ssh/2022)

  • Japan: :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.jp.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (Use cvs login and enter the password "anoncvs" when prompted.)

  • USA: freebsdanoncvs@anoncvs.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (ssh only - no password)

    SSH HostKey: 1024 a1:e7:46:de:fb:56:ef:05:bc:73:aa:91:09:da:f7:f4 root@sanmateo.ecn.purdue.edu
    SSH2 HostKey: 1024 52:02:38:1a:2f:a8:71:d3:f5:83:93:8d:aa:00:6f:65 ssh_host_dsa_key.pub
  • USA: anoncvs@anoncvs1.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs (ssh only - no password)

    SSH HostKey: 1024 8b:c4:6f:9a:7e:65:8a:eb:50:50:29:7c:a1:47:03:bc root@ender.liquidneon.com
    SSH2 HostKey: 2048 4d:59:19:7b:ea:9b:76:0b:ca:ee:da:26:e2:3a:83:b8 ssh_host_dsa_key.pub

Since CVS allows one to "check out" virtually any version of the FreeBSD sources that ever existed (or, in some cases, will exist), you need to be familiar with the revision (-r) flag to cvs(1) and what some of the permissible values for it in the FreeBSD Project repository are.

There are two kinds of tags, revision tags and branch tags. A revision tag refers to a specific revision. Its meaning stays the same from day to day. A branch tag, on the other hand, refers to the latest revision on a given line of development, at any given time. Because a branch tag does not refer to a specific revision, it may mean something different tomorrow than it means today.

Sekcja A.7, "CVS Tags" contains revision tags that users might be interested in. Again, none of these are valid for the Ports Collection since the Ports Collection does not have multiple revisions.

When you specify a branch tag, you normally receive the latest versions of the files on that line of development. If you wish to receive some past version, you can do so by specifying a date with the -D date flag. See the cvs(1) manual page for more details.

A.3.3. Examples

While it really is recommended that you read the manual page for cvs(1) thoroughly before doing anything, here are some quick examples which essentially show how to use Anonymous CVS:

Przykład A.1. Checking Out Something from -CURRENT (ls(1)):
% setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.jp.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs
% cvs login
At the prompt, enter the password "anoncvs".
% cvs co ls

Przykład A.2. Using SSH to check out the src/ tree:
% cvs -d freebsdanoncvs@anoncvs.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs co src
The authenticity of host 'anoncvs.freebsd.org (' can't be established.
DSA key fingerprint is 52:02:38:1a:2f:a8:71:d3:f5:83:93:8d:aa:00:6f:65.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'anoncvs.freebsd.org' (DSA) to the list of known hosts.

Przykład A.3. Checking Out the Version of ls(1) in the 6-STABLE Branch:
% setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.jp.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs
% cvs login
At the prompt, enter the password "anoncvs".
% cvs co -rRELENG_6 ls

Przykład A.4. Creating a List of Changes (as Unified Diffs) to ls(1)
% setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.jp.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs
% cvs login
At the prompt, enter the password "anoncvs".
% cvs rdiff -u -rRELENG_5_3_0_RELEASE -rRELENG_5_4_0_RELEASE ls

Przykład A.5. Finding Out What Other Module Names Can Be Used:
% setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anoncvs@anoncvs.jp.FreeBSD.org:/home/ncvs
% cvs login
At the prompt, enter the password "anoncvs".
% cvs co modules
% more modules/modules

A.3.4. Other Resources

The following additional resources may be helpful in learning CVS:

  • CVS Tutorial from Cal Poly.

  • CVS Home, the CVS development and support community.

  • CVSweb is the FreeBSD Project web interface for CVS.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.