Renaming a CVS Branch

I recently needed to rename a branch in a CVS repository, and after Googling around for a while I found only hints of what might work, but no actual examples of how to rename a branch. Apparently it’s one thing to rename a tag in CVS, but if it’s a branch tag CVS doesn’t give you any easy ways to rename the branch, and if you try “normal” rename commands on a branch tag you’ll start seeing cryptic error messages. I started fiddling around with some of the commands in a CVS sandbox and figured out how to do it.

If you give a branch the wrong name you can fix the name by adding the good name as a tag name on the same branch, changing your working version to the good name, then deleting the old tag, and finally converting the new tag into a branch tag.

Whoops! I created a bad tag name:

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs tag -b bad_name cvs_test.pl
T cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs up -r bad_name cvs_test.pl
M cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs ci cvs_test.pl
/cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v  <--  cvs_test.pl
new revision: 1.1.2.1; previous revision: 1.1

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs stat cvs_test.pl
===================================================================
File: cvs_test.pl       Status: Up-to-date

   Working revision:    1.1.2.1
   Repository revision: 1.1.2.1 /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
   Commit Identifier:   21af497a241a4567
   Sticky Tag:          bad_name (branch: 1.1.2)
   Sticky Date:         (none)
   Sticky Options:      (none)

To fix that, I tag the working revision (in this case 1.1.2.1) of the bad_name branch with the good_name and then switch to the good_name branch:

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs admin -N good_name:1.1.2.1
cvs admin: Administrating .
RCS file: /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
done

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs stat cvs_test.pl
===================================================================
File: cvs_test.pl       Status: Up-to-date

   Working revision:    1.1.2.1
   Repository revision: 1.1.2.1 /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
   Commit Identifier:   21af497a241a4567
   Sticky Tag:          bad_name (branch: 1.1.2)
   Sticky Date:         (none)
   Sticky Options:      (none)

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs up -r good_name cvs_test.pl
earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs stat cvs_test.pl
===================================================================
File: cvs_test.pl       Status: Up-to-date

   Working revision:    1.1.2.1
   Repository revision: 1.1.2.1 /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
   Commit Identifier:   21af497a241a4567
   Sticky Tag:          good_name (revision: 1.1.2.1)
   Sticky Date:         (none)
   Sticky Options:      (none)

Next I delete the bad_name tag by using the -n option without specifying a revision number:

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs admin -n bad_name
cvs admin: Administrating .
RCS file: /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
done

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs stat cvs_test.pl
===================================================================
File: cvs_test.pl       Status: Up-to-date

   Working revision:    1.1.2.1
   Repository revision: 1.1.2.1 /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
   Commit Identifier:   21af497a241a4567
   Sticky Tag:          good_name (revision: 1.1.2.1)
   Sticky Date:         (none)
   Sticky Options:      (none)

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs up -r bad_name cvs_test.pl
cvs update: `cvs_test.pl' is no longer in the repository

The bad tag name is gone! To get the good tag again:

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs up -r good_name cvs_test.pl
U cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs stat cvs_test.pl
===================================================================
File: cvs_test.pl       Status: Up-to-date

   Working revision:    1.1.2.1
   Repository revision: 1.1.2.1 /cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v
   Commit Identifier:   21af497a241a4567
   Sticky Tag:          good_name (revision: 1.1.2.1)
   Sticky Date:         (none)
   Sticky Options:      (none)

The last step is to convert the good_name tag into a branch tag:

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs tag -d good_name cvs_test.pl
D cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs tag -b good_name cvs_test.pl
T cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs up -r good_name cvs_test.pl

earl@earl:~/sandbox/earl > cvs ci cvs_test.pl
/cvsroot/sandbox/earl/cvs_test.pl,v  <--  cvs_test.pl
new revision: 1.1.2.1.2.1; previous revision: 1.1.2.1

There may be an easier way to do this, but this does work.

Hope you found this useful.

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5 thoughts on “Renaming a CVS Branch

    • Renaming requires the use of admin functions, so if you don’t have admin rights and can’t use “cvs admin -n bad_name” then you’ll need to find someone who has admin rights to help you rename a branch.

      Or you could use this as an opportunity to switch to Git.

  1. Much easier than the above is to just do

    cvs admin -N good_name:1.1.2 cvs_test.pl

    Note the use of 1.1.2, which is the branch revision number, while 1.1.2.1 is the file revision number.

  2. Your process doesn’t actually rename a branch, you are actually creating a new branch off the old branch and giving that sub-branch the new name. Note the extra levels in the new revision in:

    > new revision: 1.1.2.1.2.1; previous revision: 1.1.2.1

    This is what you have done:

    HEAD: 1.1
    |
    bad_name branch: +– 1.1.2.x
    |
    good_name sub-branch: +– 1.1.2.1.2.x

    I haven’t tested it, but I’m pretty sure you could accomplish the same thing just by doing:

    cvs tag -b -r bad_name good_name
    cvs tag -d bad_name

    -L

  3. However, there might be cases in which one uses a tag temporarily or accidentally puts one in the wrong place. Therefore, one might delete, move, or rename a tag.

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