Drakevr's Corner

Me in Hashtags: #sysadmin, #programming, #networking, #student, #Linux

Single file VCS

Jan 28, 2013 - 2 minute read - Comments - vcsrcs

It is no secret I like version control systems(VCS). As most SysAdmins i believe that pretty much everything should be versioned, any file that we tinker with must always be backed up and versioned somewhere.

I am pretty sure that by now you maintain a lot of stuff in modern vcs like Git repos (or whatever floats your boat), the point is you already use version control. However as you might have guessed even though systems like Git sound (and for certain situations ARE awesome) they tend to not work well for a SysAdmin’s purposes, especially when talking about configurations.

Programmers tend to work on things and files that are interrelated thus it makes lots of sense to have everything under a directory versioned under VCS, which is the way it is currently done by “modern VCS”. In systems administration however that is not the case, most of the time the files in a directory have nothing to do with one another, but are there by convention and you rarely want to version and manage ALL of them.

The best example illustrating the above is the /etc directory. You rarely want to have it all versioned and many of the files there need special treatment (certain exact permissions etc…) making the use of “modern huge full directory oriented VCS” a real pain.

Enter RCS! Despite it’s many and significant disadvantages RCS is a simple and solid VCS with the great virtue of controlling individual files instead of directories or hierarches of them. Thus, its trivial and mindless to use for a file in some system dir (like /etc) and almost forget about it.

here is a list of common operations, done the RCS way.

#    RCS operation
#    $ Command line

#Initial check-in of file (leaving file active in filesystem)
$ ci -u filename

#Check out with lock
$ co -l filename

#Check in and unlock (leaving file active in filesystem)
$ ci -u filename

#Display version x.y of a file
$ co -px.y filename

#Undo to version x.y (overwrites file active in filesystem with the specified revision)
$ co -rx.y filename

#Diff file active in filesystem and last revision
$ rcsdiff filename

#Diff versions x.y and x.z

$ rcsdiff -rx.y -rx.z filename

#View log of check-ins

$ rlog filename

#Break an RCS lock held by another person on a file
$ rcs -u filename