Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

[Q] Bitkeeper vs. other SCS systems?


I just wanted to know if any of those present had tried (ie, as in "really tried to beat it to death") Bitkeeper from Bitmover - , and their point of view on the software / model itself and maybe in regard to other SCS systems...

Being quite new to the whole topic of Version Control systems, I am only (vagely) familiar with CVS (mainly 'cause that's the way to up/download source code from SourceForge :), but I can see the advantages to the idea so I though I'd better train myself to use it before I "just have to"

Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated.

Javier Jarava
Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Currently Linus (you know, the Linux guy) and many kernel developers use it, and they're supposedly thrilled with it.

spiny norman
Thursday, May 30, 2002

Yes, that's where I became aware of it, following the "arguments" that have been about its use on the linux kernel. AFAIK, both Linus Torvalds and Marcelo Tossatti (spelling?) (maintainer of the 2.4 kernel) use it, together with Linux/PPC people, and some others...

My question was more to its real usefulness on more "day to day" use; I don't plan to manage a "linux-kernel" scale project anytime soon. I was more thinking on the lines of personal projects, small-to-medium ones and the like...

So I was wondering if anybody had personal experience they'd like to share :)

Thanks before hand

Javier Jarava
Thursday, May 30, 2002

From what I understand, Bitkeeper does not have a central source repository, unlike most version-control systems. For distributed development like the Linux kernel, this works well. However, if you are only working in one office or computer, this functionality might be overkill. Plus, a server with your central source repository might be a risk, but it is easy to backup. How do you safely backup a distributed source repository and have peace of mind that you copied ALL the bits?

Zwarm Monkey
Thursday, May 30, 2002

BitKeeper does use a central source repository. BitKeeper is distributed in the sense that it supports distributed development. The way in which it manages the source tree (as a set of changes) also portions of different trees to be integrated without needing to synchronize the rest of the tree, among other things.

BitKeeper does support disconnected development. Ie, you can create a copy of some tree on your workstation, then perform checkins and checkouts to it, then later sync that tree with the main one.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

I would suggest getting your feet wet with something like CVS, if only because there are 10^24 tutorials for it. It's also a pretty decent revision control system, but without all the complexity that heavy-duty RCS systems impose. It has the advantage of needing only about 4-5 commands and being opensource, should you be curious as to how it functions.

BitKeeper is a very nice piece of software, but it's not something I'd recommend to someone just starting out with RCS software.

Friday, May 31, 2002

I think Bit Keeper is a bit too new for many people to have beat on it yet.  I recently read an interview with the guy who wrote it, and he basically wrote it to support Kernel devlopment, but couldn't justify the cost w/o charging for it uinder a propriatary license.  Anyway, he states that their competing against Clearcase, so if that is also on your radar screen, you may want to try out Bit Keeper as well.

This sounds like a good Ask Slashdot question...

Friday, May 31, 2002

As someone who mastered the basic use of BitKeeper today, I can only give a relative newbie opinion of it. BitKeeper is a commercial offering that aims to be a cutting edge source control software with many innovative and advanced features. You can use it freely as long as you don't mind that the logs are sent to a remote server. If not, you have to purchase several per seats licenses.

CVS is the state of the art among open-source developers, but definitely has very serious limitations. I already encountered times when I wanted to move or copy a file or a directory structure but could not. If you are looking for open-source alternatives that fix most of these annoyances take a look at Arch ( ) or the upcoming
Subversion ( ). The latter aims to be as compatible with CVS as possible, which is not the case for other source control systems.

Working with BitKeeper is quite different than working with CVS. I did not try SBV or Arch yet, so I cannot comment on them, but I heard good things of them. There's also Aegis, but from my impression it is limited by design in several ways.

Shlomi Fish
Saturday, June 01, 2002

Re: ""This sounds like a good Ask Slashdot question... ""

Indeed it is... the only thing is, when /. touches the issue of Bitkeeper / Bitmover, there is a very real possibility that it'll go into a discussion on licensing terms, and that's not something I'd like to go into (I have my own ideas about that, thanks :) I'm more interested on the lookout of those who are familiar with other options, and are starting to use this one...

Re: ""You can use it freely as long as you don't mind that the logs are sent to a remote server""

If I understand correctly, you can either use the "openloggin" (in which the logs of what you do are sent to the server), _or_ there is the "individual" lincense, in which there is no record of user / host in the logs, so it's as if you are the only user (the idea is that'll you use it on your own). That option does not requiere the logs to be sent to the remote server (ie, you can use it for your own version tracking, which is mainly what interest me at the moment :)

Thanks for the (plentiful, interesting) comments to all

Javier Jarava
Saturday, June 01, 2002

From a lot of reading I've been doing on the topic, Perforce appears to be a very good choice for source control.  It's very fast in general (especially over WAN's), cross-platform, robust, client-server based...on and on.  The standalone UI for Windows could use some improvement, but the SCC integration works well.  I hate to sound like a newbie, but I tried CVS and was pretty turned off by the experience of trying to set it up and use it.  I've also read about a lot of teams which use Perforce here and there, although you kind of have to dig for the info with lots of Google searching.

Richard Kuo
Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Richard Kuo wrote:
<<I hate to sound like a newbie, but I tried CVS and was pretty turned off by the experience of trying to set it up and use it.>>

Same experience here, until I found WinCVS and its daily user guide.

More docs here:

Jan Derk
Wednesday, June 05, 2002

If you are using Windows be sure to look at ! It is a very nice CVS client (with SSH capabilities and all...). I'd leave the other SCMs to developers for now, at least until they publish some more tutorials and manuals.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Also worth checking out is the free cvs server service which you can use to check in your own projects and work with other developers over the internet. Similar to Sourceforge but you get to keep your IP. Also its not specific to Windows, any cvs client can access it.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Doh forgot the url:

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Thursday, November 06, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home