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Updated: July 2014

git-cvsserver (1)


git-cvsserver - A CVS server emulator for git



export CVS_SERVER="git cvsserver"
cvs -d :ext:user@server/path/repo.git co <HEAD_name>

pserver (/etc/inetd.conf):

cvspserver stream tcp nowait nobody /usr/bin/git-cvsserver git-cvsserver pserver


git-cvsserver [options] [pserver|server] [<directory> ...]


Git Manual                                       GIT-CVSSERVER(1)

     git-cvsserver - A CVS server emulator for git


     export CVS_SERVER="git cvsserver"
     cvs -d :ext:user@server/path/repo.git co <HEAD_name>

     pserver (/etc/inetd.conf):

     cvspserver stream tcp nowait nobody /usr/bin/git-cvsserver git-cvsserver pserver


     git-cvsserver [options] [pserver|server] [<directory> ...]

     All these options obviously only make sense if enforced by
     the server side. They have been implemented to resemble the
     git-daemon(1) options as closely as possible.

     --base-path <path>
         Prepend path to requested CVSROOT

         Don't allow recursing into subdirectories

         Don't check for gitcvs.enabled in config. You also have
         to specify a list of allowed directories (see below) if
         you want to use this option.

     -V, --version
         Print version information and exit

     -h, -H, --help
         Print usage information and exit

         You can specify a list of allowed directories. If no
         directories are given, all are allowed. This is an
         additional restriction, gitcvs access still needs to be
         enabled by the gitcvs.enabled config option unless
         --export-all was given, too.

     This application is a CVS emulation layer for git.

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     It is highly functional. However, not all methods are
     implemented, and for those methods that are implemented, not
     all switches are implemented.

     Testing has been done using both the CLI CVS client, and the
     Eclipse CVS plugin. Most functionality works fine with both
     of these clients.

     CVS clients cannot tag, branch or perform GIT merges.

     git-cvsserver maps GIT branches to CVS modules. This is very
     different from what most CVS users would expect since in CVS
     modules usually represent one or more directories.

      1. If you are going to offer CVS access via pserver, add a
         line in /etc/inetd.conf like

                cvspserver stream tcp nowait nobody git-cvsserver pserver

         Note: Some inetd servers let you specify the name of the
         executable independently of the value of argv[0] (i.e.
         the name the program assumes it was executed with). In
         this case the correct line in /etc/inetd.conf looks like

                cvspserver stream tcp nowait nobody /usr/bin/git-cvsserver git-cvsserver pserver

         Only anonymous access is provided by pserve by default.
         To commit you will have to create pserver accounts,
         simply add a gitcvs.authdb setting in the config file of
         the repositories you want the cvsserver to allow writes
         to, for example:

                     authdb = /etc/cvsserver/passwd

         The format of these files is username followed by the
         crypted password, for example:


         You can use the htpasswd facility that comes with Apache
         to make these files, but Apache's MD5 crypt method
         differs from the one used by most C library's crypt()
         function, so don't use the -m option.

         Alternatively you can produce the password with perl's
         crypt() operator:

                perl -e 'my ($user, $pass) = @ARGV; printf "%s:%s\n", $user, crypt($user, $pass)' $USER password

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         Then provide your password via the pserver method, for

                cvs -d:pserver:someuser:somepassword <at> server/path/repo.git co <HEAD_name>

         No special setup is needed for SSH access, other than
         having GIT tools in the PATH. If you have clients that
         do not accept the CVS_SERVER environment variable, you
         can rename git-cvsserver to cvs.

         Note: Newer CVS versions (>= 1.12.11) also support
         specifying CVS_SERVER directly in CVSROOT like

             cvs -d ":ext;CVS_SERVER=git cvsserver:user@server/path/repo.git" co <HEAD_name>

         This has the advantage that it will be saved in your
         CVS/Root files and you don't need to worry about always
         setting the correct environment variable. SSH users
         restricted to git-shell don't need to override the
         default with CVS_SERVER (and shouldn't) as git-shell
         understands cvs to mean git-cvsserver and pretends that
         the other end runs the real cvs better.

      2. For each repo that you want accessible from CVS you need
         to edit config in the repo and add the following

                     # optional for debugging

         Note: you need to ensure each user that is going to
         invoke git-cvsserver has write access to the log file
         and to the database (see Database Backend. If you want
         to offer write access over SSH, the users of course also
         need write access to the git repository itself.

         You also need to ensure that each repository is "bare"
         (without a git index file) for cvs commit to work. See

         All configuration variables can also be overridden for a
         specific method of access. Valid method names are "ext"
         (for SSH access) and "pserver". The following example
         configuration would disable pserver access while still
         allowing access over SSH.


                [gitcvs "ext"]

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      3. If you didn't specify the CVSROOT/CVS_SERVER directly in
         the checkout command, automatically saving it in your
         CVS/Root files, then you need to set them explicitly in
         your environment. CVSROOT should be set as per normal,
         but the directory should point at the appropriate git
         repo. As above, for SSH clients not restricted to
         git-shell, CVS_SERVER should be set to git-cvsserver.

                  export CVSROOT=:ext:user@server:/var/git/project.git
                  export CVS_SERVER="git cvsserver"

      4. For SSH clients that will make commits, make sure their
         server-side .ssh/environment files (or .bashrc, etc.,
         according to their specific shell) export appropriate
         values for GIT_AUTHOR_NAME, GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL,
         clients whose login shell is bash, .bashrc may be a
         reasonable alternative.

      5. Clients should now be able to check out the project. Use
         the CVS module name to indicate what GIT head you want
         to check out. This also sets the name of your newly
         checked-out directory, unless you tell it otherwise with
         -d <dir_name>. For example, this checks out master
         branch to the project-master directory:

                  cvs co -d project-master master

     git-cvsserver uses one database per git head (i.e. CVS
     module) to store information about the repository to
     maintain consistent CVS revision numbers. The database needs
     to be updated (i.e. written to) after every commit.

     If the commit is done directly by using git (as opposed to
     using git-cvsserver) the update will need to happen on the
     next repository access by git-cvsserver, independent of
     access method and requested operation.

     That means that even if you offer only read access (e.g. by
     using the pserver method), git-cvsserver should have write
     access to the database to work reliably (otherwise you need
     to make sure that the database is up-to-date any time
     git-cvsserver is executed).

     By default it uses SQLite databases in the git directory,
     named gitcvs.<module_name>.sqlite. Note that the SQLite

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     backend creates temporary files in the same directory as the
     database file on write so it might not be enough to grant
     the users using git-cvsserver write access to the database
     file without granting them write access to the directory,

     The database can not be reliably regenerated in a consistent
     form after the branch it is tracking has changed. Example:
     For merged branches, git-cvsserver only tracks one branch of
     development, and after a git merge an incrementally updated
     database may track a different branch than a database
     regenerated from scratch, causing inconsistent CVS revision
     numbers. git-cvsserver has no way of knowing which branch it
     would have picked if it had been run incrementally
     pre-merge. So if you have to fully or partially (from old
     backup) regenerate the database, you should be suspicious of
     pre-existing CVS sandboxes.

     You can configure the database backend with the following
     configuration variables:

  Configuring database backend
     git-cvsserver uses the Perl DBI module. Please also read its
     documentation if changing these variables, especially about

         Database name. The exact meaning depends on the selected
         database driver, for SQLite this is a filename. Supports
         variable substitution (see below). May not contain
         semicolons (;). Default: %Ggitcvs.%m.sqlite

         Used DBI driver. You can specify any available driver
         for this here, but it might not work. cvsserver is
         tested with DBD::SQLite, reported to work with DBD::Pg,
         and reported not to work with DBD::mysql. Please regard
         this as an experimental feature. May not contain colons
         (:). Default: SQLite

         Database user. Only useful if setting dbdriver, since
         SQLite has no concept of database users. Supports
         variable substitution (see below).

         Database password. Only useful if setting dbdriver,
         since SQLite has no concept of database passwords.

         Database table name prefix. Supports variable
         substitution (see below). Any non-alphabetic characters

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         will be replaced with underscores.

     All variables can also be set per access method, see above.

     Variable substitution

         In dbdriver and dbuser you can use the following

             git directory name

             git directory name, where all characters except for
             alpha-numeric ones, ., and - are replaced with _
             (this should make it easier to use the directory
             name in a filename if wanted)

             CVS module/git head name

             access method (one of "ext" or "pserver")

             Name of the user running git-cvsserver. If no name
             can be determined, the numeric uid is used.

     These variables obviate the need for command-line options in
     some circumstances, allowing easier restricted usage through

     GIT_CVSSERVER_BASE_PATH takes the place of the argument to

     GIT_CVSSERVER_ROOT specifies a single-directory whitelist.
     The repository must still be configured to allow access
     through git-cvsserver, as described above.

     When these environment variables are set, the corresponding
     command-line arguments may not be used.

     To get a checkout with the Eclipse CVS client:

      1. Select "Create a new project -> From CVS checkout"

      2. Create a new location. See the notes below for details
         on how to choose the right protocol.

      3. Browse the modules available. It will give you a list of

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         the heads in the repository. You will not be able to
         browse the tree from there. Only the heads.

      4. Pick HEAD when it asks what branch/tag to check out.
         Untick the "launch commit wizard" to avoid committing
         the .project file.

     Protocol notes: If you are using anonymous access via
     pserver, just select that. Those using SSH access should
     choose the ext protocol, and configure ext access on the
     Preferences->Team->CVS->ExtConnection pane. Set CVS_SERVER
     to "git cvsserver". Note that password support is not good
     when using ext, you will definitely want to have SSH keys

     Alternatively, you can just use the non-standard extssh
     protocol that Eclipse offer. In that case CVS_SERVER is
     ignored, and you will have to replace the cvs utility on the
     server with git-cvsserver or manipulate your .bashrc so that
     calling cvs effectively calls git-cvsserver.

     o   CVS 1.12.9 on Debian

     o   CVS 1.11.17 on MacOSX (from Fink package)

     o   Eclipse 3.0, 3.1.2 on MacOSX (see Eclipse CVS Client

     o   TortoiseCVS

     All the operations required for normal use are supported,
     including checkout, diff, status, update, log, add, remove,
     commit. Legacy monitoring operations are not supported
     (edit, watch and related). Exports and tagging (tags and
     branches) are not supported at this stage.

  CRLF Line Ending Conversions
     By default the server leaves the -k mode blank for all
     files, which causes the CVS client to treat them as a text
     files, subject to end-of-line conversion on some platforms.

     You can make the server use the end-of-line conversion
     attributes to set the -k modes for files by setting the
     gitcvs.usecrlfattr config variable. See gitattributes(4) for
     more information about end-of-line conversion.

     Alternatively, if gitcvs.usecrlfattr config is not enabled
     or the attributes do not allow automatic detection for a
     filename, then the server uses the gitcvs.allbinary config
     for the default setting. If gitcvs.allbinary is set, then

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     file not otherwise specified will default to -kb mode.
     Otherwise the -k mode is left blank. But if gitcvs.allbinary
     is set to "guess", then the correct -k mode will be guessed
     based on the contents of the file.

     For best consistency with cvs, it is probably best to
     override the defaults by setting gitcvs.usecrlfattr to true,
     and gitcvs.allbinary to "guess".

     git-cvsserver depends on DBD::SQLite.

     Part of the git(1) suite

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | developer/versioning/git |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted              |
     This software was built from source available at  The original
     community source was downloaded from  http://git-

     Further information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

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