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Linux Server Hacks by Rob Flickenger

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Chapter 2. Revision Control

Hacks #23-36

If you take administration seriously, you will likely spend untold hours fine-tuning your system to behave just so. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to define when a given application is "working" and when it is "broken"; usually functionality is much more finely graded, somewhere in the grey area between up and down. Even making a small configuration change can bring about subtle effects that aren't seen for days (or weeks) down the road.

This is where Revision Control can be a powerful ally. Beyond providing simple backups, any revision control package worth its weight in bits will keep track of the changes in any file, when it was changed, who changed it, and why the change was made. This information can be of untold value when working on a complex system, particularly if more than one person is responsible for its upkeep. By keeping critical configuration files in systems such as RCS or CVS, you will be able to "roll back" to any previous revision of a file, and analyze the differences between what was present then and the version you have online right now.

In this section, the goal is to provide the specific syntax you need to make effective use of RCS and CVS, with useful examples of how you might use them. While RCS is extremely handy for maintaining file revisions on a single machine, CVS offers extensive archiving and merging capabilities, keeping a central repository somewhere on the network. Understandably, CVS is a much ...

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