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RE: Newbie: update vs. checkout

From: Jim.Hyslop
Subject: RE: Newbie: update vs. checkout
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 14:16:13 -0400

Irving Kimura wrote:
> I'm sorry for this very stupid question, but after spending a lot
> of time reading the CVS documentation, I still don't understand
> what *exactly* is the difference between update and checkout.
> Could someone explain it to me?
There is a little bit of overlap in the functionality.

You use checkout when you have nothing in your working directory yet, i.e.
when you're doing a fresh checkout. You use update to refresh an existing
checked-out project.

If you use the checkout command in an existing working directory, then it
will behave as if you issued the "update" command.

Clear as mud? :-)

Maybe an example will help:

mkdir fresh
cd fresh # at this point, there is no working directory
cvs update # error - there's nothing to update
cvs checkout mymodule
cd mymodule
[some time passes]
cvs update # refresh the working copy
cvs checkout # refresh the working copy

Jim Hyslop
Senior Software Designer
Leitch Technology International Inc. (
Columnist, C/C++ Users Journal (

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