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
Set the comment leader to string. An initial ci, or an rcs -i
without -c, guesses the comment leader from the suffix of the
This option is obsolescent, since RCS normally uses the preced-
ing $Log$ line's prefix when inserting log lines during checkout
(see co(1)). However, older versions of RCS use the comment
leader instead of the $Log$ line's prefix, so if you plan to
access a file with both old and new versions of RCS, make sure
its comment leader matches its $Log$ line prefix.
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 can 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.
-M Do not send mail when breaking somebody else's lock. This
option is not meant for casual use; it is meant for programs
that warn users by other means, and invoke rcs -u only as a low-
level lock-breaking operation.
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
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
cannot 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.
-T Preserve the modification time on the RCS file unless a revision
is removed. This option can suppress extensive recompilation
caused by a make(1) dependency of some copy of the working file
on the RCS file. Use this option with care; it can suppress
recompilation even when it is needed, i.e. when a change to the
RCS file would mean a change to keyword strings in the working
-V Print RCS's version number.
-Vn Emulate RCS version n. See co(1) for details.
Use suffixes to characterize RCS files. See ci(1) for details.
-zzone Use zone as the default time zone. This option has no effect;
it is present for compatibility with other RCS commands.
At least one explicit option must be given, to ensure compatibility
with future planned extensions to the rcs command.
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
Author: Walter F. Tichy.
Manual Page Revision: 5.13; Release Date: 1995/06/05.
Copyright (C) 1982, 1988, 1989 Walter F. Tichy.
Copyright (C) 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 Paul Eggert.
rcsintro(1), co(1), ci(1), ident(1), rcsclean(1), rcsdiff(1),
rcsmerge(1), rlog(1), rcsfile(5)
Walter F. Tichy, RCS--A System for Version Control, Software--Practice
& Experience 15, 7 (July 1985), 637-654.
A catastrophe (e.g. a system crash) can cause RCS to leave behind a
semaphore file that causes later invocations of RCS to claim that the
RCS file is in use. To fix this, remove the semaphore file. A
semaphore file's name typically begins with , or ends with _.
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 1995/06/05 RCS(1)
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