Meta-CVS is a version control system built around CVS. Although it retains most of the features of CVS, including all of the networking support, it is more capable than CVS, and easier to use. Its main features are:

System requirements: Meta-CVS runs on Linux, and on Windows under Cygwin. If the /dev/urandom device is present, it will use it, otherwise fall back on the pseudo-random number generator built into CLISP. An installation of CVS is required. A text editor is required; /bin/vi is used by default, or whatever the EDITOR environment variable indicates.


The most up to date releases are hosted on

Note for Cygwin users: 1.0.8 and later releases require that there exists a /dev directory. Just ``mkdir /dev''.

Below are historic releases from the 1.0 stable stream.

And from the development stream. The 1.1.98 version on is a 1.2 release candidate, so I warped the version number to 98.

July 2019 update: Meta-CVS 1.2:

Related Software

Robin Verduijn developed a patch for the ViewCVS software to provide improved browsing of Meta-CVS repositories.

Gábor Melis developed Ho-CVS (Higher Order CVS) based on Meta-CVS.

Links and Rants

Meta-CVS is listed on freshmeat, and every release is announced there.

The suggested IRC forum for discussing Meta-CVS is the #mcvs channel at

There is a Meta-CVS page in CLiki, a collaborative authoring system written in Common Lisp, dedicated to Lisp-related topics.

I have prepared a table which compares the features of Subversion and Meta-CVS.

Here are some responses to a few ill-considered criticisms of Meta-CVS. And here are some responses to more criticisms.

The Meta-CVS Guarantee

If you are not fully satisfied with Meta-CVS for any reason, simply change to your installation directory and type ``rm mcvs*''. Your disk space will be promptly refunded. No questions asked (unless you use rm -i, of course).

Notes About the Shark Logo

Though the CVS project appears to have no logo currently, some users may remember that for some time, CVS had an unofficial logo depicting a fish with some bubbles coming out of its mouth:

This originated from Pacal Molli's "CVS Bubbles" site. The logo was later revised to this stylized version:

The Meta-CVS logo has two meanings. Firstly, the shark has eaten the CVS fish. Secondly, the shark is more of a contender in the sea of version control than a cute little fish. The Logo was produced using the Dia program. I neglected to include this in the sources, but I have the original Dia file. The letters of the Meta-CVS caption are "hand made" using using thick Bezier paths; they are not from a font.

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