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Re: cvs vs. clearcase?

From: Mark D. Baushke
Subject: Re: cvs vs. clearcase?
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 08:53:53 -0800

Hash: SHA1

Mike <address@hidden> writes:

> I have a director asking why I don't want to user the company's
> clear case server. One item I mentioned is the lack of integration
> into unix tools and the lack of a unix client. Are these good/valid
> reasons? What are other reasons?

    - Cost per seat of support of Clearcase can be high
    - Cost of View servers and Vob servers can be high
    - Technical training/expertise of the support staff favors CVS,
      so you need to train or hire Clearcase administrators.

    - Many people do not trust the security of running a system that
      needs to modify the operational integrity of the kernel on both
      their clients and servers in order to operate effectively with
    - Clearcase is a primarily US-based SCM system while CVS is used
      by a large part of the international community.

    - If you already have a highly integrated environment using CVS,
      you should be able to write a technical paper on the cost of
      the transition from CVS to Clearcase for your particular area.
    - Technical training/expertise of the support staff favors CVS,
      so you need to train or hire Clearcase administrators.
    - Adding additional features to CVS is possible as you have the
      source, forcing IBM to change anything for you is not as easy.

    - The future of Open Source development looks bright and you wish
      to attract Open Source community into joint development with one
      or more of your projects.

    - Your developers will quit if they are forced to use Clearcase.
    - Your developers will require many hours or re-education if they
      are forced to transition to a new SCM system and they do not
      like change.


Has the director already paid for a license for clear case for all of
your users? Has the director already paid for the infrastructure for
adding additional view servers and vob servers to your environment to
handle the projects currently managed under CVS? Has the director
already added to his forecast and budget for growth of your development
team and accounted for the marginal cost of using a propietary source
control system?

There are ideological reasons to use an Open Source source control
system over a proprietary source control system. You can search the web
for ideas on that line.

There are at least two major versions of CVS supported actively on the
net (CVS and CVSNT) and all of the *BSD communities use CVS for
development, so CVS is not going to fall into disuse anytime soon. Is
your company able to get an agreement to escrow the source code for
ClearCase should the vendor (IBM now owns Rational which purchased Pure
which purchased Atria that originally wrote ClearCase) choose not to
continue to provide the product at some future date?

If your projects closely coordinate with open source projects, you might
be interested in having your workers use a single 'cvs' for both tasks.

Clear case has 'reasonable' support for many commercial versions of UNIX
(Solaris, HP/UX and AIX for example). They probably have some kind of
support for GNU/Linux boxes and no support for FreeBSD, NetBSD and

It is reasonable to look at the various SCM tools available for Linux

It is reasonable to do a survey of the capabilities of CVS:

If you have a large invested use of 'cvs' in your shop, then transition
to clear case could be expensive. Certainly there are different
administration problems with the extra hardware needed for View and Vob
servers and the cost of doing distributed development using MultiSite
can be high in terms of dollars and man-hours of effort.

If you have lots of binary files to be managed by your SCM, then you
probably want to avoid using CVS as it is not well suited for that task
and there are other alternatives possible.

If you do not yet have a large body of CVS use or other technical or
ideological reasons for choosing CVS, then you may wish to consider if
this is really a fight you wish to pursue. CVS is fairly old and other
tools such as subversion are in the wings to address some of its
weaknesses. Whatever arguments you choose, you will probably need to
revisit them every few years, so be sure to keep track of what are the
political, technical, economic and social issues that drive the use of
a particular SCM system in your area.

        Good luck,
        -- Mark
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