CVSNT (which does not stand for "CVS for NT") is a rewrite of the open-source CVS source code management, with enhancements such as atomicity (CHECK), support for the SSPI protocol to authenticate users against the NT user list (the legacy pserver protocol is also available), and encryption of the data stream (using the -x flag.)




It is highly recommended that the repositories be located on the same host where the CVSNT server is running. While the server can be located on any filesystem, the repository should (must?) be located on an NTFS filesystem. It is also highly recommended that repositories and directories/filenames that will be placed in repositories do not contain spaces. Educate your users :-)

If using the SSPI protocol, each authorized user needs to have NTFS permissions to the CVS files on the server.  Read-write users need "full control."  Same applies to the temporary folder specified in the CVSNT control panel applet.


  1. Log on as Administrator, and run the installer. In the list of options, remove all authentication protocols except SSPI (Other protocols are either non-secure or experimental). If users will connect from a different location, and no trust relationship or ActiveDirectory is set up, use the legacy, less secure pserver protocol
  2. (CHECK) Reboot, even if you installed on W2K. If you do not restart, you will get a "Repository initialization failed" error when you try to create a repository. This is necessary because services will not see the updated system path until after the system is restarted.
  3. (CHECK: Doesn't seem needed in 2.0.11) Check that the PATH environment variable includes the path to wherever you installed the CVS binaries, eg. c:\program files\cvsnt
  4. On an NTFS partition, create two directories, one to hold the file repository (eg. C:\CVSREPO), a.k.a. CVSROOT, another to hold temporary files (eg. C:\CVSTEMP)
  5. Open Control Panel, and run the "CVS for NT" applet. If the service is running, stop it
  6. Check "Repository Prefix", and click on the "..." button to tell CVS where the repository lives (C:\CVSREPO)
  7. If you only need to host a single repository in this CVS server, just click on the Add button, type "/.", and hit OK to add a repository right under C:\CVSREPO.
    You can host more than one repository on one CVS server, each one located under in C:\CVSREPO\ . As explained in the NT applet, any change to the list of repositories requires restarting the CVS service
  8. Click on the Advanced tab, and tell CVS where to locate the directory for temporary files. Important: The cvstemp directory must NOT be located in either c:\WINNT\Temp or anywhere in the "C:\Documents and Settings" tree because these locations have imposed restrictions on user access in Win2000 and Win-XP!
  9. If you intend to use the SSPI protocol (recommended), uncheck "Support ntserver protocol". Note that the setting 'Require Encryption' in the CVSNT control panel effectively disables pserver as it doesn't support any level of encryption.  It also ensures that clients are using an encrypted protocol to communicate with the server
  10. (important) Click on the Apply button
  11. Go back to the Service Status tab, and click on Start
  12. Open a DOS box, and run "netstat -an". Make sure there are applications listening on TCP 2401 and 2402

FYI, to provide access to the repository through the Net, you just need to open TCP 2401. TCP 2402 (lockserver) is only used by cvsnt itself and is not used elsewhere. All client communication is done over 2401.


We will use the nice CVS front-end TortoiseCVS instead of WinCVS, as it seems easier to use.

  1. Download and install the application
  2. (Steps here?)
  3. Start | Programs | TortoiseCVS | Preferences : Click on the ".cvsignore" tab, and input the files that you would not add to the repository, each extension preceded by a space (eg. *.exe *.ocx)
  4. Click on the Main tab, and set the diff program you'll want to use to compare changes graphically. Click OK to close.
  5. Launch Windows Explorer, and right-click on a folder that contains files (and sub-directories) whose contents you want to add to the CVS repository
  6. In the pop-up menu, choose CVS, followed by "Make new module..."
  7. In the dialog box, Protocol = Windows authentication (:sspi:), Server = host on which CVSNT was installed, Repository folder = /. (or /test if you set up a repository as a sub-directory under C:\REPO). If the username under which you are logged doesn't match a user account set up on the CVSNT server, fill the "User name" field (you will be prompted for the password at the next step). Hit OK.
    This new set of files will be added under C:\REPO, in a sub-directory that matches what you typed under Module in the previous dialog (by default, the name of the directory where the contents live)
  8. Next, right-click a second time on the directory where the contents are located, and choose "CVS Add Contents...". By default, all the contents are checked, but you can ignore some of them. Click OK
  9. Use your favorite development tools, and modify any file in the directory
  10. Once you're done, right-click on the directory (so all the files that were modified will be commited in one go), and choose "CVS Commit..."
  11. Add a comment that will be shared among all the files to be commited. Click OK

Done! You have successfully installed CVSNT, followed by TortoiseCVS, the GUI front-end to CVS, added files to the repository, and commited changes :-)

Using pserver authentication

Creating CVS user accounts

In case you prefer to use pserver authentication instead of sspi (eg. you need to work from home, so don't want to bother with cross-domain NT authentication. Note, however, that if the CVSNT is a workgroup server, it just takes a password to log on from a remote host since TortoiseCVS lets you specify the username in the dialog box), make sure you included this protocol when installing CVSNT (reinstall CVSNT if you removed the DLL), and do the following:

  1. On the CVS server, log on with an NT administrator account
  2. Create a user on this NT host (Control Panel, etc.), eg. cvsuser
  3. Open a DOS box
  4. Set a CVSROOT environment variable to avoid typing it with every single command: set cvsroot=:pserver:localhost:/test
  5. cvs login, and type this admin's password (by default, the admin account that you used to log on to this NT host is used)
  6. cvs passwd -a cvsuser
  7. type a password for this user

There is now a file named passwd in the CVSROOT sub-directory of the test/ repository (c:\repo\test\CVSROOT\passwd). Passwords are hashed using the Unix crypt() function. To disable a CVS user account, use "cvs passwd -x cvsuser". To remove a CVS user, run "cvs passwd -X cvsuser". You can also edit the passwd file in your favorite editor.

Important: When the password field in $CVSROOT/CVSROOT/passwd is omitted or empty, then the client's authentication attempt will succeed with any password, including the empty string. However, the colon after the CVSNT username is always necessary, even if the password is empty.

After you enter the password, CVSNT verifies it with the server.  If the verification succeeds, then that combination of username, host, repository, and password is permanently recorded, so future transactions with that repository won't require you to run cvs login.  (If verification fails, CVSNT will exit complaining that the password was incorrect, and nothing will be recorded.)

The records are stored, by default, in the file `$HOME/.cvspass' (Unix) or the Registry (NT). The format human-readable, and to a degree human-editable, but note that the passwords are not stored in cleartext--they are trivially encoded to protect them from "innocent" compromise (i.e., inadvertent viewing by a system administrator or other non-malicious person).

Note that if SystemAuth is set to Yes in CVSROOT/config, pserver will use NT authentication if a user cannot be authenticated using the passwd file. Set this to No if you want pserver to stop instead of resorting to NT authentication.

To avoid creating user accounts both in the NT user database AND in CVS, you can create a single user in NT, create users in CVS, and have CVS use the NT account to perform tasks, ie. impersonation. Changes in CVS will be marked as the CVS user, not the NT user. Here's the command:

cvs passwd -d :pserver:cvsuser@localhost:c:/repo -r cvsuser -a <login user name>

where cvsuser is the NT account, and <login user name> is the new CVS account, which will actually be impersonated as cvsuser.

Alternatively: cvs passwd -a -r <real accountname> <cvs account name>

Setting admin rights

To allow a CVS user to have admin rights on the CVS repository, create CVSROOT/admin, and add usernames.

If "SystemAuth = Yes" in CVSROOT/config, the user is considered to be an administrator if they are listed in the CVSROOT/admin file or if they are in the 'Administrators' group (NT) or 'cvsadmin' group (Unix). If SystemAuth = No only the CVSROOT/admin file is checked.

Important: CVSROOT/admin should *not* be put under CVSNT control, as that would be a security risk.

Using sspi authentication

In CVSROOT/config, if SystemAuth=yes, users are validated against the current NT domain, or against the domain specified in CVSROOT, and only users listed in CVSROOT/passwd exists are granted access to the repository (in which case, you don't need hashed passwords in this file, since authentication is handled by NT.)

Configuration files and variables

You edit the administrative files in the same way that you would edit any other module.  Use `cvs checkout CVSROOT' to get a working copy, edit it, and commit your changes in the normal way.

The repository is split in two parts.  $CVSROOT/CVSROOT contains administrative files for CVSNT.  The other directories contain the actual user-defined modules, each containing its own CVSROOT/ .


This is an environment variable that must be set so the CVS.EXE client knows how to connect to the CVS server. Alternatively, you can use the -d switch on the command line to specify this information. The format is:



set CVSROOT=:pserver:notes\waynej@goldenrod:d:\cvsroot



Not set by default. If you wish to use the pserver protocol, set this to No. If you wish to use the sspi protocol, set this to Yes (in this case, the passwd file is used to tell CVSNT which accounts in the NT user database are allowed to connect to it. Since users are authenticated by NT, no password is set in the passwd file.)


A passwd file is located in every repository, not just the top-level CVSROOT subdirectory under $CVSROOT


The environment variable $CVSEDITOR determines which editor is started.  If $CVSEDITOR is not set, then if the environment variable $EDITOR is set, it will be used. If both $CVSEDITOR and $EDITOR are not set then there is a default which will vary with your operating system, for example vi for unix or notepad for Windows NT/95.


Used to tell CVS which file extensions map to binary files.


To login using the CLI CVS

  1. log on the CVSNT server locally
  2. set CVSROOT=:pserver:cvsadmin@myserver:/.
  3. cvs login
  4. Type the NT password set for this account

To add a user

cvsadmin must be listed in $CVSROOT/CVSROOT/admin before being allowed to add users?

  1. If you closed the DOS box, relog in as explained above
  2. cvs passwd -a jdoe

A passwd file is created in CVSROOT/, with this user name and a hashed password.

To check out a module

  1. Launch Windows Explorer, navigate to a directory where you would like the files that make up this module to be checked out from the server
  2. Right-click on this folder, and choose "CVS Checkout..."
  3. Choose a protocol (if you followed the install instructions above, only SSPI is available), give the hostname or IP address of the server where CVSNT is running, the name of the repository, and the name of the module you want to checkout (the "Fetch List" button only works if a web-based application is installed on the CVSNT server to fetch the list of existing modules)

A subdirectory is now available with the name of the module you selected.

To commit a module

After you worked on files in your sandbox, here's how to check those changes into the repository on the CVSNT server:

  1. In your sandbox, folder, right-click on the folder named after the module
  2. Select CVS Update, to make sure that no one has commited changes to the same module while you were working on your local copy in your sandbox
  3. Select "CVS Commit..."
  4. Add a comment explaining what you did
  5. If you want to know which changes you made compared to the previous version of a file located in the repository, right-click on the file, and choose "Diff..."
  6. Click OK to commit changes to the repository

To view changes between two revisions

  1. In your sandbox, right-click on a file, and choose CVS, followed by History
  2. Using the SHIFT or CTRL keys, right-click on an older you wish to compare with the revision in your sandbox
  3. Choose "Diff (working file)"

User Authentication

CVS-NT supports various methods to authenticate users:

Backing up a repository

net stop cvs
xcopy c:\cvsrepo \\server\cvsbackup /Q /S /C /H /R /O /Y
net start cvs

In some situations it is a good idea to have more than one repository, for instance if you have two development groups that work on separate projects without sharing any code.  All you have to do to have several repositories is to specify the appropriate repository, using the CVSROOT environment variable, the `-d' option to CVSNT, or (once you have checked out a working directory) by simply allowing CVSNT to use the repository that was used to check out the working directory

Accessing CVS through the web




Where the source files live on the CVS server. Each time you commit changes, CVS will determine what the changes are, and only remember those changed from the previous version.


A set of files


This is what you do when adding a new file to the repository


Same as Add


Getting files out of the repository and into a sandbox, ie. a local directory where you will be working with your usual development tools.


Sending changes made to files to the CVS repository after you're through working with them.


Same as Check-in


Syncing the files in your sandbox with the revision that lives in the repository. Used to make sure that you are working with the latest (and possibly) greatest. If someone checked in changes while you were working in your sandbox, the CVS client will try to merge this new stuff from the repository into your local version. If it fails, which happens if someone changed the same line as you did, you'll have to resolve this conflict manually, choosing which change to keep.

Show Edited Files


Make Patch

Update Special


"At a given stage of development, giving one or more files a common label that refers to their revisions, is known as tagging those files. Tagging is typically used on entire modules, so that the current state of the module can be reconstructed in the future. This kind of tagging should always be done on project deliverables, and before starting major changes. "



Weg Log


Revision Graph



Does Add recursively in Tortoise respects directory structure?

Check to see if sub-directories are created in the module on the CVS server

Does CVSNT support fetching a list of modules?

TortoiseCVS provides a "Fetch list" button to download a list of available modules from the server, but it attempts to connect to a web-based viewer. Any way to get the list directly?

How to forbid users from creating new repositories?

From TortoiseCVS, if a repository cannot be found, a new one can be created. To forbid this, is the solution to use the admin file to reserve this option only to admin users?

How to find answers in the mailing list archives?

Can we use a fully-qualified path to the repository?

set CVSROOT=:pserver:notes\waynej@goldenrod:d:\cvsroot

I get an error. Tried d:/cvsroot, d://cvsroot, d:\\cvsroot, to no avail. Must use eg. /. instead

Can revision numbers start at 1.0 instead of 1.1?

Can I set site-wide config infos in $CVSROOT/CVSROOT...

... and expect those infos to be used as default in other repositories below?

How to add an authentication protocol on an existing CVSNT server?

If you wish to add pserver after using sspi, you just need to build the password file. If you removed the ad hoc file pserver_protocol.dll, you'll have to reinstall CVSNT, and add the password file required by pserver.

Why the need to "Add Contents" before "Commit" when adding new files to the repo?

And is it normal that revisions start at 1.1 instead of 1.0?

Once installed, how can I remove such and such authentication scheme?

Disabling any protocol on the CVSNT server is normally done by physically deleting the corresponding xxx_protocol.dll file from the CVSNT programs directory.

To remove the pserver protocol, erase the pserver_protocol.dll.

Note that the setting 'Require Encryption' in the CVSNT control panel effectively disables pserver as it doesn't support any level of encryption.  It also ensures that clients are using an encrypted protocol to communicate with the server.

Diff betwen server and sserver?



With SSPI, how to limit logon to only certain users?

When used, normally sspi will accept connections from all system users that authenticate against the system (local or domain). Often this is not really what we want, instead we want to use the same mechanism as is used with :pserver:.  Here the CVSROOT/passwd file limits the logins accepted by CVSNT to those mentioned in the file.

Meaning of stuff in the Control Panel applet

Encryption: Optional, Request Authentication, Request Encryption, Require Authentication, Require Encryption

Compression: Optional, Request Compression, Require Compression

Why one port for CVS, and a second for the Lock Server?

The reason you need to create the LockServer is that you cannot set a repository directory to read only because CVS needs to be able to create lock files for each operation even if the operation is not going to modify the repository. These lockfiles are normally stored in the repository itself and if it is read only then the operation fails.

How should I set up NTFS permissions on my repository?

Read this.


Temp stuff

  1. On the client host (which can be the same host where the CVS server is running), open a DOS box, and type:
    set cvsroot=:ntserver:<computername>:/TEST
    cvs passwd -a <your NT username>

    ... where computername is either the computer's hostname (ie. not "localhost") or its IP address. If using the pserver protocol instead of the ntserver protocol, and for security reasons, make sure you choose a password that is different from that user's NT domain account (if any.) CVS will now create a file named "password" under $CVSROOT/test/ . Note that this CVS user account must match an NT user account; otherwise, use "cvs passwd -a -r <real accountname> <cvs account name>" to create an alias. 
  2. Check that you can log on the CVS server by opening a DOS box, and typing:

    set cvsroot=:pserver:<user>@<computername>:/TEST 
    cvs login (enter password on prompt) 
    cvs ls -l -R

    ... where the last command should return a list of the files located under $CVSROOT/test/ .

  3. Use an env't variable to make the CVSROOT variable permanent

Old, complicated stuff

  1. Create a CVSROOT environment variable that contains the following: :local:c:/cvs
  2. Create a HOME environment variable for the user account under which CVS will run (eg. the SYSTEM account), and set it to C:/
  3. Check that variables TMP and TEMP exist and point both to the same folder, eg. C:\WINNT\TEMP, that the folder exists, and is accessible in read-write mode by the user account under which the CVSNT service will run
  4. Create the CVS root folder, eg. C:\CVS
  5. Open a DOS box, and run "ntservice -i c:\cvs"
  6. Depending on which version of CVSNT you are using...
    1. Launch the CVS applet either trough a DOS command ("cvsservice -i c:\cvs") or the Control Panel
    2. Start the CVS service ("net start cvs") or Control Panel
    3. Initialize CVS ("cvs init") or Control Panel
  7. Choose which authentication protocol to use, and set things up accordingly
    1. pserver:
      1. Create an empty $HOME\.passwd file
      2. Decide if you wish to use domain passwords (not recommended as pserver transmits data in an easily crackable format) or CVS passwords
      3. Check out the config file in the CVSROOT module: mkdir sandbox; cd sandbox; cvs -d :local:c:/cvs checkout CVSROOT; cd CVSROOT
      4. Edit this file through cvs -d :local:c:/cvs commit, and change the line that says SystemAuth: Set it to "yes" (without the quotes!) to use domain password; Set it to "no" to use the CVS passwords saved in the passwd file:
        1. If you choose to use the NT domain authentication, CVS will use the domain name of the host on which it is running, but you can use a different domain name for a given user using a field in the passwd file (eg. this user's entry in the passwd file will look like this: joe:!SOUTHPARK, where SOUTHPARK is a domain name). Use "cvs passwd" to edit the passwd file
        2. If you choose to use CVS passwords, create a file named passwd in the CVSROOT directory. Remember that this file should never be checked into the CVS repository
    2. ntserver:
      1. Make sure that each user is authorized to access the NTFS partition and files of the CVS repository


  1. Install either the command-line utility CVS.EXE or GUI-based alternatives eg. WinCVS
  2. Set the CVSROOT variable to indicate which authentication protocol to use, which NT domain you belong to (if different from the one to which the CVS server belongs), your user account, the hostname of the CVS server, and the path to the file repository on the server. This setting is set through an environment variable (CVS.EXE) or through a configuration menu (WinCVS: Admin | Preferences, General tab):
    1. :pserver:MYNTDOMAIN\jdoe@mycvsserver:c:\the_cvs_repository_on_the_server (in WinCVS, choose "Authentication" = "passwd", and "Use version" = "cvs 1.10 (Standard)" )
    2. :sspi:MYNTDOMAIN\jdoe@mycvsserver:c:\the_cvs_repository_on_the_server
    3. :ntserver:tiger:c:/cvs (in WinCVS, choose "Authentication" = ntserver, and "Use version" = cvs 1.10 (NT server) )
  3. If using the ntserver authentication, users do not need to log on to the server as the CVS server will query the DC to check user credentials, but must open a DOS box and run "net use \\CVSMachineName /user:CVSServerDomainName\userName" if their host is located in an NT domain that is different from the one where the CVS server is runnning.