arch is a revision control, source code management, and
configuration management tool.
This manual is an
arch tutorial: its purpose is to help you get
arch for the first time, and then learn some of the
more advanced features of arch.
In order to use this manual, you should be familiar with the basic
unix command line tools (such as
In addition, you should be familiar with the programs
patch and the concept of a
It is very helpful, but not strictly necessary if you have used or are
at least familiar with other revision control systems such as
arch is largely a self documenting program. The command:
% tla help
will provide you with a categorized list of all available commands,
and for a given command
% tla foo -H
will provide you with documentation for that command.
Arch is sufficiently different from older and competing systems that
new users are often a bit disoriented for the first few days. You may
find it helpful to seek help on the
gnu-arch-users mailing list
which you can find via links from:
A "revision control system" is a librarian and coordination tool for trees of files and the changes made to them. For example, a typical software project uses revision control to keep track of how the project's source code evolves over time, to keep track of each change to that code (such as each bug fix or feature addition), to share those changes among all the programmers working on the project and help them remain in sync, and to combine changes made at different times and/or by different programmers into a single source tree.
A "source management tool" is one that helps you to manage large source trees even if they have many more files that you can keep track of "by hand". For example, a source management tool can inventory the source files in a tree, distinguish the source files from scratch files and and other files that maybe stored there, and inform you when source files are added and deleted.
"Configuration Management" addresses the needs of projects which combine multiple, separately maintained source trees into a single tree. A configuration management tool helps you to easily construct the combined project and to keep track of how development on the component parts is synchronized.
arch has a number of advantages compared to competing systems.
Among these are:
Works on Whole Trees
arch keeps track of whole trees – not just
individual files. For example, if you change many files in a tree,
arch can record all of those changes as a group rather than
file-by-file; if you rename files or reorganize a tree,
record those tree arrangements along with your changes to file
arch doesn't simply "snapshot" your project
arch associates each revision with a particular
changeset: a description of exactly what has changed.
provides changeset oriented commands to help you review changesets,
merge trees by applying changesets, examine the history of a tree by
asking what changesets have been applied to it, and so forth.
arch doesn't rely on a central repository.
For example, there is no need to give write access to a project's
archive to all significant contributors, instead, each contributor can
have their own archive for their work.
arch seamlessly operates
across archive boundaries.