RCS man page on 4.4BSD
rcs - change RCS file attributes
rcs [ options ] file ...
rcs creates new RCS files or changes attributes of existing ones. An
RCS file contains multiple revisions of text, an access list, a change
log, descriptive text, and some control attributes. For rcs to work,
the caller's login name must be on the access list, except if the
access list is empty, the caller is the owner of the file or the supe‐
ruser, or the -i option is present.
Pathnames matching an RCS suffix denote RCS files; all others denote
working files. Names are paired as explained in ci(1). Revision num‐
bers use the syntax described in ci(1).
-i Create and initialize a new RCS file, but do not deposit any
revision. If the RCS file has no path prefix, try to place it
first into the subdirectory ./RCS, and then into the current
directory. If the RCS file already exists, print an error mes‐
Append the login names appearing in the comma-separated list
logins to the access list of the RCS file.
Append the access list of oldfile to the access list of the RCS
Erase the login names appearing in the comma-separated list
logins from the access list of the RCS file. If logins is omit‐
ted, erase the entire access list.
Set the default branch to rev. If rev is omitted, the default
branch is reset to the (dynamically) highest branch on the
sets the comment leader to string. The comment leader is
printed before every log message line generated by the keyword
$Log$ during checkout (see co(1)). This is useful for program‐
ming languages without multi-line comments. An initial ci , or
an rcs -i without -c, guesses the comment leader from the suffix
of the working file.
Set the default keyword substitution to subst. The effect of
keyword substitution is described in co(1). Giving an explicit
-k option to co, rcsdiff, and rcsmerge overrides this default.
Beware rcs -kv, because -kv is incompatible with co -l. Use
rcs -kkv to restore the normal default keyword substitution.
Lock the revision with number rev. If a branch is given, lock
the latest revision on that branch. If rev is omitted, lock the
latest revision on the default branch. Locking prevents over‐
lapping changes. A lock is removed with ci or rcs -u (see
Unlock the revision with number rev. If a branch is given,
unlock the latest revision on that branch. If rev is omitted,
remove the latest lock held by the caller. Normally, only the
locker of a revision may unlock it. Somebody else unlocking a
revision breaks the lock. This causes a mail message to be sent
to the original locker. The message contains a commentary
solicited from the breaker. The commentary is terminated by
end-of-file or by a line containing . by itself.
-L Set locking to strict. Strict locking means that the owner of
an RCS file is not exempt from locking for checkin. This option
should be used for files that are shared.
-U Set locking to non-strict. Non-strict locking means that the
owner of a file need not lock a revision for checkin. This
option should not be used for files that are shared. Whether
default locking is strict is determined by your system adminis‐
trator, but it is normally strict.
Replace revision rev's log message with msg.
Associate the symbolic name name with the branch or revision
rev. Delete the symbolic name if both : and rev are omitted;
otherwise, print an error message if name is already associated
with another number. If rev is symbolic, it is expanded before
association. A rev consisting of a branch number followed by a
. stands for the current latest revision in the branch. A :
with an empty rev stands for the current latest revision on the
default branch, normally the trunk. For example,
rcs -nname: RCS/* associates name with the current latest revi‐
sion of all the named RCS files; this contrasts with
rcs -nname:$ RCS/* which associates name with the revision num‐
bers extracted from keyword strings in the corresponding working
Act like -n, except override any previous assignment of name.
deletes (“outdates”) the revisions given by range. A range con‐
sisting of a single revision number means that revision. A
range consisting of a branch number means the latest revision on
that branch. A range of the form rev1:rev2 means revisions rev1
to rev2 on the same branch, :rev means from the beginning of the
branch containing rev up to and including rev, and rev: means
from revision rev to the end of the branch containing rev. None
of the outdated revisions may have branches or locks.
-q Run quietly; do not print diagnostics.
-I Run interactively, even if the standard input is not a terminal.
Set the state attribute of the revision rev to state . If rev
is a branch number, assume the latest revision on that branch.
If rev is omitted, assume the latest revision on the default
branch. Any identifier is acceptable for state. A useful set
of states is Exp (for experimental), Stab (for stable), and Rel
(for released). By default, ci(1) sets the state of a revision
Write descriptive text from the contents of the named file into
the RCS file, deleting the existing text. The file pathname may
not begin with -. If file is omitted, obtain the text from
standard input, terminated by end-of-file or by a line contain‐
ing . by itself. Prompt for the text if interaction is possi‐
ble; see -I. With -i, descriptive text is obtained even if -t
is not given.
Write descriptive text from the string into the RCS file, delet‐
ing the existing text.
-Vn Emulate RCS version n. See co(1) for details.
Use suffixes to characterize RCS files. See ci(1) for details.
The -brev option generates an RCS file that cannot be parsed by RCS
version 3 or earlier.
The -ksubst options (except -kkv) generate an RCS file that cannot be
parsed by RCS version 4 or earlier.
Use rcs -Vn to make an RCS file acceptable to RCS version n by discard‐
ing information that would confuse version n.
RCS version 5.5 and earlier does not support the -x option, and
requires a ,v suffix on an RCS pathname.
rcs accesses files much as ci(1) does, except that it uses the effec‐
tive user for all accesses, it does not write the working file or its
directory, and it does not even read the working file unless a revision
number of $ is specified.
options prepended to the argument list, separated by spaces.
See ci(1) for details.
The RCS pathname and the revisions outdated are written to the diagnos‐
tic output. The exit status is zero if and only if all operations were
Author: Walter F. Tichy.
Revision Number: 5.6; Release Date: 1991/09/26.
Copyright © 1982, 1988, 1989 by Walter F. Tichy.
Copyright © 1990, 1991 by Paul Eggert.
co(1), ci(1), ident(1), rcsdiff(1), rcsintro(1), rcsmerge(1), rlog(1),
Walter F. Tichy, RCS--A System for Version Control, Software--Practice
& Experience 15, 7 (July 1985), 637-654.
The separator for revision ranges in the -o option used to be - instead
of :, but this leads to confusion when symbolic names contain -. For
backwards compatibility rcs -o still supports the old - separator, but
it warns about this obsolete use.
Symbolic names need not refer to existing revisions or branches. For
example, the -o option does not remove symbolic names for the outdated
revisions; you must use -n to remove the names.
GNU 1991/09/26 RCS(1)
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