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2.6 Invoking rcs

The rcs command is unique in the set of RCS programs in that it has two usages, the modern (for RCS 5.9.0 and later) and the legacy.

2.6.1 modern

rcs [options] command [command-arg …]

This rcs usage dispatches to command, passing along command-arg… without interpretation.


Display a list of available commands, including a one-line description, and exit successfully.


Display a list of command aliases and exit successfully.

--help command

Display help for a particular command and exit successfully. For example, to display help for the legacy interface, use:

--help frob

2.6.2 legacy

rcs frob [options] file …
(or “rcs” instead of “rcs frob”)

This rcs usage performs various administrative operations on the RCS file, depending on the options given.


Create and initialize a new RCS file.


Set strict locking.


Set non-strict locking.


Don’t send mail when breaking someone else’s lock.

Do not confuse this with -Mrev (see Working file mtime option).


Preserve the modification time on the RCS file unless a revision is removed.


See Misc common options.


Append logins (see Delim-separated list) to access-list.


Erase logins (see Delim-separated list) from access-list. If logins is omitted, clear the access-list.


Append access-list of file-name to current access-list.


Set default branch to that of rev or highest branch on trunk if rev is omitted.


Lock a revision.


Unlock a revision.


Set comment leader to string. NB: Don’t use; obsolete.


See Substitution mode option.


Replace log message with msg. See Log message option.


If :rev is omitted, delete symbolic name. Otherwise, associate name with rev; name must be new.


Like -n, but overwrite any previous assignment.


Delete (also known as “outdate”) revisions in range:


single revision


latest revision on branch br


rev1 to rev2 on same branch, inclusive


beginning of branch to rev


rev to end of branch


Set state (see State option).


See Description option. Replace description.


See Misc common options.

These options have no effect, and are included solely for consistency with other commands (see Environment): -zzone.

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