co - check out RCS revisions
co [ options ] file ...
Co retrieves revisions from RCS files. Each file name ending in `,v' is taken to be an
RCS file. All other files are assumed to be working files. Co retrieves a revision from
each RCS file and stores it into the corresponding working file.
Pairs of RCS files and working files may be specified in 3 ways (see also the example sec-
1) Both the RCS file and the working file are given. The RCS file name is of the form
path1/workfile,v and the working file name is of the form path2/workfile, where path1/ and
path2/ are (possibly different or empty) paths and workfile is a file name.
2) Only the RCS file is given. Then the working file is created in the current directory
and its name is derived from the name of the RCS file by removing path1/ and the suffix
3) Only the working file is given. Then the name of the RCS file is derived from the name
of the working file by removing path2/ and appending the suffix `,v'.
If the RCS file is omitted or specified without a path, then co looks for the RCS file
first in the directory ./RCS and then in the current directory.
Revisions of an RCS file may be checked out locked or unlocked. Locking a revision pre-
vents overlapping updates. A revision checked out for reading or processing (e.g., compil-
ing) need not be locked. A revision checked out for editing and later checkin must nor-
mally be locked. Locking a revision currently locked by another user fails. (A lock may be
broken with the rcs (1) command.) Co with locking requires the caller to be on the access
list of the RCS file, unless he is the owner of the file or the superuser, or the access
list is empty. Co without locking is not subject to accesslist restrictions.
A revision is selected by number, checkin date/time, author, or state. If none of these
options are specified, the latest revision on the trunk is retrieved. When the options
are applied in combination, the latest revision that satisfies all of them is retrieved.
The options for date/time, author, and state retrieve a revision on the selected branch.
The selected branch is either derived from the revision number (if given), or is the high-
est branch on the trunk. A revision number may be attached to one of the options -l, -p,
-q, or -r.
A co command applied to an RCS file with no revisions creates a zero-length file. Co
always performs keyword substitution (see below).
-l[rev] locks the checked out revision for the caller. If omitted, the checked out
revision is not locked. See option -r for handling of the revision number rev.
-p[rev] prints the retrieved revision on the std. output rather than storing it in the
working file. This option is useful when co is part of a pipe.
-q[rev] quiet mode; diagnostics are not printed.
-ddate retrieves the latest revision on the selected branch whose checkin date/time is
less than or equal to date. The date and time may be given in free format and
are converted to local time. Examples of formats for date:
2:25 AM, Dec. 29, 1983,
Tue-PDT, 1981, 4pm Jul 21 (free format),
Fri, April 16 15:52:25 EST 1982 (output of ctime).
Most fields in the date and time may be defaulted. Co determines the defaults
in the order year, month, day, hour, minute, and second (most to least signifi-
cant). At least one of these fields must be provided. For omitted fields that
are of higher significance than the highest provided field, the current values
are assumed. For all other omitted fields, the lowest possible values are
assumed. For example, the date "20, 10:30" defaults to 10:30:00 of the 20th of
the current month and current year. The date/time must be quoted if it con-
-r[rev] retrieves the latest revision whose number is less than or equal to rev. If
rev indicates a branch rather than a revision, the latest revision on that
branch is retrieved. Rev is composed of one or more numeric or symbolic fields
separated by `.'. The numeric equivalent of a symbolic field is specified with
the -n option of the commands ci and rcs.
-sstate retrieves the latest revision on the selected branch whose state is set to
-w[login] retrieves the latest revision on the selected branch which was checked in by
the user with login name login. If the argument login is omitted, the caller's
login is assumed.
-jjoinlist generates a new revision which is the join of the revisions on joinlist. Join-
list is a comma-separated list of pairs of the form rev2:rev3, where rev2 and
rev3 are (symbolic or numeric) revision numbers. For the initial such pair,
rev1 denotes the revision selected by the options -l, ..., -w. For all other
pairs, rev1 denotes the revision generated by the previous pair. (Thus, the
output of one join becomes the input to the next.)
For each pair, co joins revisions rev1 and rev3 with respect to rev2. This
means that all changes that transform rev2 into rev1 are applied to a copy of
rev3. This is particularly useful if rev1 and rev3 are the ends of two
branches that have rev2 as a common ancestor. If rev1 < rev2 < rev3 on the same
branch, joining generates a new revision which is like rev3, but with all
changes that lead from rev1 to rev2 undone. If changes from rev2 to rev1 over-
lap with changes from rev2 to rev3, co prints a warning and includes the over-
lapping sections, delimited by the lines <<<<<<< rev1, =======, and
For the initial pair, rev2 may be omitted. The default is the common ancestor.
If any of the arguments indicate branches, the latest revisions on those
branches are assumed. If the option -l is present, the initial rev1 is locked.
Strings of the form $keyword$ and $keyword:...$ embedded in the text are replaced with
strings of the form $keyword: value $, where keyword and value are pairs listed below.
Keywords may be embedded in literal strings or comments to identify a revision.
Initially, the user enters strings of the form $keyword$. On checkout, co replaces these
strings with strings of the form $keyword: value $. If a revision containing strings of
the latter form is checked back in, the value fields will be replaced during the next
checkout. Thus, the keyword values are automatically updated on checkout.
Keywords and their corresponding values:
$Author$ The login name of the user who checked in the revision.
$Date$ The date and time the revision was checked in.
$Header$ A standard header containing the RCS file name, the revision number, the
date, the author, and the state.
$Locker$ The login name of the user who locked the revision (empty if not locked).
$Log$ The log message supplied during checkin, preceded by a header containing the
RCS file name, the revision number, the author, and the date. Existing log
messages are NOT replaced. Instead, the new log message is inserted after
$Log:...$. This is useful for accumulating a complete change log in a source
$Revision$ The revision number assigned to the revision.
$Source$ The full pathname of the RCS file.
$State$ The state assigned to the revision with rcs -s or ci -s.
The RCS file name, the working file name, and the revision number retrieved are written to
the diagnostic output. The exit status always refers to the last file checked out, and is
0 if the operation was successful, 1 otherwise.
Suppose the current directory contains a subdirectory `RCS' with an RCS file `io.c,v'.
Then all of the following commands retrieve the latest revision from `RCS/io.c,v' and
store it into `io.c'.
co io.c; co RCS/io.c,v; co io.c,v;
co io.c RCS/io.c,v; co io.c io.c,v;
co RCS/io.c,v io.c; co io.c,v io.c;
The working file inherits the read and execute permissions from the RCS file. In addition,
the owner write permission is turned on, unless the file is checked out unlocked and lock-
ing is set to strict (see rcs (1)).
If a file with the name of the working file exists already and has write permission, co
aborts the checkout if -q is given, or asks whether to abort if -q is not given. If the
existing working file is not writable, it is deleted before the checkout.
The caller of the command must have write permission in the working directory, read per-
mission for the RCS file, and either read permission (for reading) or read/write permis-
sion (for locking) in the directory which contains the RCS file.
A number of temporary files are created. A semaphore file is created in the directory of
the RCS file to prevent simultaneous update.
Author: Walter F. Tichy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907.
Revision Number: 3.1 ; Release Date: 83/04/04 .
Copyright (C) 1982 by Walter F. Tichy.
ci (1), ident(1), rcs (1), rcsdiff (1), rcsintro (1), rcsmerge (1), rlog (1), rcsfile (5),
Walter F. Tichy, "Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Revision Control System," in
Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Software Engineering, IEEE, Tokyo,
The option -d gets confused in some circumstances, and accepts no date before 1970. There
is no way to suppress the expansion of keywords, except by writing them differently. In
nroff and troff, this is done by embedding the null-character `\&' into the keyword.
The option -j does not work for files that contain lines with a single `.'.
Purdue University 6/29/83 CO(1)