A.5. Using CVSup

A.5.1. Introduction

CVSup is a software package for distributing and updating source trees from a master CVS repository on a remote server host. The FreeBSD sources are maintained in a CVS repository on a central development machine in California. With CVSup, FreeBSD users can easily keep their own source trees up to date.

CVSup uses the so-called pull model of updating. Under the pull model, each client asks the server for updates, if and when they are wanted. The server waits passively for update requests from its clients. Thus all updates are instigated by the client. The server never sends unsolicited updates. Users must either run the CVSup client manually to get an update, or they must set up a cron job to run it automatically on a regular basis.

The term CVSup, capitalized just so, refers to the entire software package. Its main components are the client cvsup which runs on each user's machine, and the server cvsupd which runs at each of the FreeBSD mirror sites.

As you read the FreeBSD documentation and mailing lists, you may see references to sup. Sup was the predecessor of CVSup, and it served a similar purpose.CVSup is in used in much the same way as sup and, in fact, uses configuration files which are backward-compatible with sup's. Sup is no longer used in the FreeBSD project, because CVSup is both faster and more flexible.

A.5.2. Installation

The easiest way to install CVSup is to use the net/cvsup-bin port from the FreeBSD ports collection. If you prefer to build CVSup from source, you can use the net/cvsup port instead. But be forewarned: the net/cvsup port depends on the Modula-3 system, which takes a substantial amount of time, memory, and disk space to build.

If you do not know anything about cvsup at all and want a single package which will install it, set up the configuration file and start the transfer via a pointy-clicky type of interface, then get the cvsupit package. Just hand it to pkg_add(1) and it will lead you through the configuration process in a menu-oriented fashion.

A.5.3. CVSup Configuration

CVSup's operation is controlled by a configuration file called the supfile. There are some sample supfiles in the directory /usr/share/examples/cvsup/.

The information in a supfile answers the following questions for cvsup:

In the following sections, we will construct a typical supfile by answering each of these questions in turn. First, we describe the overall structure of a supfile.

A supfile is a text file. Comments begin with # and extend to the end of the line. Lines that are blank and lines that contain only comments are ignored.

Each remaining line describes a set of files that the user wishes to receive. The line begins with the name of a ``collection'', a logical grouping of files defined by the server. The name of the collection tells the server which files you want. After the collection name come zero or more fields, separated by white space. These fields answer the questions listed above. There are two types of fields: flag fields and value fields. A flag field consists of a keyword standing alone, e.g., delete or compress. A value field also begins with a keyword, but the keyword is followed without intervening white space by = and a second word. For example, release=cvs is a value field.

A supfile typically specifies more than one collection to receive. One way to structure a supfile is to specify all of the relevant fields explicitly for each collection. However, that tends to make the supfile lines quite long, and it is inconvenient because most fields are the same for all of the collections in a supfile. CVSup provides a defaulting mechanism to avoid these problems. Lines beginning with the special pseudo-collection name *default can be used to set flags and values which will be used as defaults for the subsequent collections in the supfile. A default value can be overridden for an individual collection, by specifying a different value with the collection itself. Defaults can also be changed or augmented in mid-supfile by additional *default lines.

With this background, we will now proceed to construct a supfile for receiving and updating the main source tree of FreeBSD-CURRENT.

A.5.3.1. The refuse file

As mentioned above, CVSup uses a pull method. Basically, this means that you connect to the CVSup server, and it says, ``Here's what you can download from me...'', and your client responds ``OK, I'll take this, this, this, and this.'' In the default configuration, the CVSup client will take every file associated with the collection and tag you chose in the configuration file. However, this is not always what you want, especially if you are synching the doc, ports, or www trees -- most people can't read four or five languages, and therefore they don't need to download the language-specific files. If you are CVSuping the ports collection, you can get around this by specifying each collection individually (e.g., ports-astrology, ports-biology, etc instead of simply saying ports-all). However, since the doc and www trees do not have language-specific collections, you must use one of CVSup's many nifty features; the refuse file.

The refuse file essentially tells CVSup that it should not take every single file from a collection; in other words, it tells the client to refuse certain files from the server. The refuse file can be found (or, if you do not yet have one, should be placed) in base/sup/refuse. base is defined in your supfile; by default, base is /usr/sup, which means that by default the refuse file is in /usr/sup/refuse.

The refuse file has a very simple format; it simply contains the names of files or directories that you do not wish to to download. For example, since I cannot speak any languages except for English and some German, and I do not feel the need to use German applications, I have the following in my refuse file:


and so forth for the other languages. Note that the name of the repository is the first ``directory'' in the refuse file.

With this very useful feature, those users who are on slow links or pay by the minute for their Internet connection will be able to save valuable time as they will no longer need to download files that they will never use. For more information on refuse files and other neat features of CVSup, please view its man page.

A.5.4. Running CVSup

You are now ready to try an update. The command line for doing this is quite simple:

    # cvsup supfile

where supfile is of course the name of the supfile you have just created. Assuming you are running under X11, cvsup will display a GUI window with some buttons to do the usual things. Press the ``go'' button, and watch it run.

Since you are updating your actual /usr/src tree in this example, you will need to run the program as root so that cvsup has the permissions it needs to update your files. Having just created your configuration file, and having never used this program before, that might understandably make you nervous. There is an easy way to do a trial run without touching your precious files. Just create an empty directory somewhere convenient, and name it as an extra argument on the command line:

    # mkdir /var/tmp/dest
    # cvsup supfile /var/tmp/dest

The directory you specify will be used as the destination directory for all file updates. CVSup will examine your usual files in /usr/src, but it will not modify or delete any of them. Any file updates will instead land in /var/tmp/dest/usr/src. CVSup will also leave its base directory status files untouched when run this way. The new versions of those files will be written into the specified directory. As long as you have read access to /usr/src, you do not even need to be root to perform this kind of trial run.

If you are not running X11 or if you just do not like GUIs, you should add a couple of options to the command line when you run cvsup:

    # cvsup -g -L 2 supfile

The -g tells cvsup not to use its GUI. This is automatic if you are not running X11, but otherwise you have to specify it.

The -L 2 tells cvsup to print out the details of all the file updates it is doing. There are three levels of verbosity, from -L 0 to -L 2. The default is 0, which means total silence except for error messages.

There are plenty of other options available. For a brief list of them, type cvsup -H. For more detailed descriptions, see the manual page.

Once you are satisfied with the way updates are working, you can arrange for regular runs of cvsup using cron(8). Obviously, you should not let cvsup use its GUI when running it from cron.

A.5.5. CVSup File Collections

The file collections available via CVSup are organized hierarchically. There are a few large collections, and they are divided into smaller sub-collections. Receiving a large collection is equivalent to receiving each of its sub-collections. The hierarchical relationships among collections are reflected by the use of indentation in the list below.

The most commonly used collections are src-all, and ports-all. The other collections are used only by small groups of people for specialized purposes, and some mirror sites may not carry all of them.

cvs-all release=cvs

The main FreeBSD CVS repository, including the cryptography code.

distrib release=cvs

Files related to the distribution and mirroring of FreeBSD.

doc-all release=cvs

Sources for the FreeBSD handbook and other documentation.

ports-all release=cvs

The FreeBSD ports collection.

ports-archivers release=cvs

Archiving tools.

ports-astro release=cvs

Astronomical ports.

ports-audio release=cvs

Sound support.

ports-base release=cvs

Miscellaneous files at the top of /usr/ports.

ports-benchmarks release=cvs


ports-biology release=cvs


ports-cad release=cvs

Computer aided design tools.

ports-chinese release=cvs

Chinese language support.

ports-comms release=cvs

Communication software.

ports-converters release=cvs

character code converters.

ports-databases release=cvs


ports-deskutils release=cvs

Things that used to be on the desktop before computers were invented.

ports-devel release=cvs

Development utilities.

ports-editors release=cvs


ports-emulators release=cvs

Emulators for other operating systems.

ports-ftp release=cvs

FTP client and server utilities.

ports-games release=cvs


ports-german release=cvs

German language support.

ports-graphics release=cvs

Graphics utilities.

ports-irc release=cvs

Internet Relay Chat utilities.

ports-japanese release=cvs

Japanese language support.

ports-java release=cvs

Java utilities.

ports-korean release=cvs

Korean language support.

ports-lang release=cvs

Programming languages.

ports-mail release=cvs

Mail software.

ports-math release=cvs

Numerical computation software.

ports-mbone release=cvs

MBone applications.

ports-misc release=cvs

Miscellaneous utilities.

ports-net release=cvs

Networking software.

ports-news release=cvs

USENET news software.

ports-palm release=cvs

Software support for 3Com Palm(tm) series.

ports-print release=cvs

Printing software.

ports-russian release=cvs

Russian language support.

ports-security release=cvs

Security utilities.

ports-shells release=cvs

Command line shells.

ports-sysutils release=cvs

System utilities.

ports-textproc release=cvs

text processing utilities (does not include desktop publishing).

ports-vietnamese release=cvs

Vietnamese language support.

ports-www release=cvs

Software related to the World Wide Web.

ports-x11 release=cvs

Ports to support the X window system.

ports-x11-clocks release=cvs

X11 clocks.

ports-x11-fm release=cvs

X11 file managers.

ports-x11-fonts release=cvs

X11 fonts and font utilities.

ports-x11-toolkits release=cvs

X11 toolkits.


X11 servers.


X11 window managers.

src-all release=cvs

The main FreeBSD sources, including the cryptography code.

src-base release=cvs

Miscellaneous files at the top of /usr/src.

src-bin release=cvs

User utilities that may be needed in single-user mode (/usr/src/bin).

src-contrib release=cvs

Utilities and libraries from outside the FreeBSD project, used relatively unmodified (/usr/src/contrib).

src-crypto release=cvs

Cryptography utilities and libraries from outside the FreeBSD project, used relatively unmodified (/usr/src/crypto).

src-eBones release=cvs

Kerberos and DES (/usr/src/eBones). Not used in current releases of FreeBSD.

src-etc release=cvs

System configuration files (/usr/src/etc).

src-games release=cvs

Games (/usr/src/games).

src-gnu release=cvs

Utilities covered by the GNU Public License (/usr/src/gnu).

src-include release=cvs

Header files (/usr/src/include).

src-kerberos5 release=cvs

Kerberos5 security package (/usr/src/kerberos5).

src-kerberosIV release=cvs

KerberosIV security package (/usr/src/kerberosIV).

src-lib release=cvs

Libraries (/usr/src/lib).

src-libexec release=cvs

System programs normally executed by other programs (/usr/src/libexec).

src-release release=cvs

Files required to produce a FreeBSD release (/usr/src/release).

src-secure release=cvs

DES (/usr/src/secure).

src-sbin release=cvs

System utilities for single-user mode (/usr/src/sbin).

src-share release=cvs

Files that can be shared across multiple systems (/usr/src/share).

src-sys release=cvs

The kernel (/usr/src/sys).

src-sys-crypto release=cvs

Kernel cryptography code (/usr/src/sys/crypto).

src-tools release=cvs

Various tools for the maintenance of FreeBSD (/usr/src/tools).

src-usrbin release=cvs

User utilities (/usr/src/usr.bin).

src-usrsbin release=cvs

System utilities (/usr/src/usr.sbin).

www release=cvs

The sources for the World Wide Web data.

distrib release=self

The CVSup server's own configuration files. Used by CVSup mirror sites.

gnats release=current

The GNATS bug-tracking database.

mail-archive release=current

FreeBSD mailing list archive.

www release=current

The installed World Wide Web data. Used by WWW mirror sites.

A.5.6. For more information

For the CVSup FAQ and other information about CVSup, see The CVSup Home Page.

Most FreeBSD-related discussion of CVSup takes place on the FreeBSD technical discussions mailing list . New versions of the software are announced there, as well as on the FreeBSD announcements mailing list .

Questions and bug reports should be addressed to the author of the program at .

A.5.7. CVSup Sites

CVSup servers for FreeBSD are running at the following sites:

Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
South Africa
United Kingdom

The following CVSup site is especially designed for CTM users. Unlike the other CVSup mirrors, it is kept up-to-date by CTM. That means if you CVSup cvs-all with release=cvs from this site, you get a version of the repository (including the inevitable .ctm_status file) which is suitable for being updated using the CTM cvs-cur deltas. This allows users who track the entire cvs-all tree to go from CVSup to CTM without having to rebuild their repository from scratch using a fresh CTM base delta.

Note: This special feature only works for the cvs-all distribution with cvs as the release tag. CVSupping any other distribution and/or release will get you the specified distribution, but it will not be suitable for CTM updating.

Note: Because the current version of CTM does not preserve the time stamps of files, the time stamps at this mirror site are not the same as those at other mirror sites. Switching between this site and other sites is not recommended. It will work correctly, but will be somewhat inefficient.


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For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.