[development] FAQ: Why is Drupal still using CVS when X is a much better choice?

Derek Wright drupal at dwwright.net
Thu Jul 31 17:46:33 UTC 2008

On Jul 31, 2008, at 9:40 AM, Angela Byron wrote:

> 1. Security. pserver authentication is horribly, horribly insecure.

I think the security problems will be just as bad with SVN given the  
OSUOSL infrastructure.  There's a way to do CVS securely (over ssh),  
which is basically equivalent to what we'd have to do to actually  
make SVN secure (as far as I know), but the OSUOSL side of this  
question has been "won't fixed" because it would involve giving  
(extremely limited) shell access to every CVS account holder:


I'll admit I haven't closely studied SVN's various security models,  
so I could be wrong about this, but on the surface, I think this  
particular argument is a red herring, since we couldn't configure SVN  
any more securely than we can configure CVS.  If anyone can provide a  
link to a clear document explaining how to configure SVN more  
securely than pserver if you don't actually have accounts and ssh  
keys for everyone, please do so.

> 2. The ability to rename and move files, retaining version history,  
> without having to post a support request to the repository  
> maintainers.

Yeah, this is a minor pain in the ass (my ass, to be precise, since I  
don't think anyone else has ever fielded one of the cvs_rename  
issues).  But, I've been documenting the process in various issues  
and hopefully others could pick up some of this (relatively small, in  
the scheme of things) support load.

> 3. The ability to remove directories without having to post a  
> support request to the repository maintainers.

The people who botch this aren't the ones who notice and fix it,  
anyway.  Usually killes or I find the cruft strewn about various  
places in the contributions repo directory tree that don't belong and  
we clean it up.  Sometimes someone else points it out first, but even  
if we had a different VCS, cleaning up stuff like this would take the  
intervention of a repository admin (because of access control  
reasons, if nothing else).

> 4. Much, much more intuitive commands.

This doesn't matter if people already know the CVS commands.  If they  
don't, we've got handouts, handbooks, screencasts, DrupalCon talks,  
off-site writeups, and more, explaining what they need to know...   
And, as Earl pointed out, the most important commands for tagging and  
branching are arguably much less intuitive, and those are the ones  
people seem to have the most trouble with.

5. answered in another message...

> 6. I don't know a lot about SVK, but if SVK can be combined with  
> SVN to provide the advantages of DRCS for advanced users, without  
> reducing our pool of contributors to like 5%, then cool. ;)

Agreed.  This is about the only feature I'd actually be psyched  
about.  And, making the ~10% of developers that would be psyched  
about this happy doesn't outweigh the huge costs (and the "terrifies  
the living Hell out of me" problem of SVN's notion of tags) of a switch.

> 7. The SVN community is completely awesome and helpful.

Hey, what are you trying to say?  You think I'm neither awesome nor  
helpful? ;)

Not to butt heads with the contributor of the year, but I don't think  
any of these reasons are actually "compelling". ;)

-Derek (dww)

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