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Here is a partial list of error messages that you may see from CVS. It is not a complete list—CVS is capable of printing many, many error messages, often with parts of them supplied by the operating system, but the intention is to list the common and/or potentially confusing error messages.
The messages are alphabetical, but introductory text such as ‘cvs update: ’ is not considered in ordering them.
In some cases the list includes messages printed by old versions of CVS (partly because users may not be sure which version of CVS they are using at any particular moment).
file:line: Assertion 'text' failed
The exact format of this message may vary depending on your system. It indicates a bug in CVS, which can be handled as described in BUGS.
cvs command: authorization failed: server host rejected access
This is a generic response when trying to connect to a
pserver server which chooses not to provide a
specific reason for denying authorization. Check that
the username and password specified are correct and
CVSROOT specified is allowed by ‘--allow-root’
in inetd.conf. See Password authenticated.
cvs command: conflict: removed file was modified by second party
This message indicates that you removed a file, and someone else modified it. To resolve the conflict, first run ‘cvs add file’. If desired, look at the other party’s modification to decide whether you still want to remove it. If you don’t want to remove it, stop here. If you do want to remove it, proceed with ‘cvs remove file’ and commit your removal.
cannot change permissions on temporary directory
Operation not permitted
This message has been happening in a non-reproducible,
occasional way when we run the client/server testsuite,
both on Red Hat Linux 3.0.3 and 4.1. We haven’t been
able to figure out what causes it, nor is it known
whether it is specific to Linux (or even to this
particular machine!). If the problem does occur on
other unices, ‘Operation not permitted’ would be
likely to read ‘Not owner’ or whatever the system
in question uses for the unix
EPERM error. If
you have any information to add, please let us know as
described in BUGS. If you experience this error
while using CVS, retrying the operation which
produced it should work fine.
cvs [server aborted]: Cannot check out files into the repository itself
The obvious cause for this message (especially for
non-client/server CVS) is that the CVS root
is, for example, /usr/local/cvsroot and you try
to check out files when you are in a subdirectory, such
as /usr/local/cvsroot/test. However, there is a
more subtle cause, which is that the temporary
directory on the server is set to a subdirectory of the
root (which is also not allowed). If this is the
problem, set the temporary directory to somewhere else,
for example /var/tmp; see
Environment variables, for how to set the
cannot commit files as 'root'
See ‘'root' is not allowed to commit files’.
cannot open CVS/Entries for reading: No such file or directory
This generally indicates a CVS internal error, and can be handled as with other CVS bugs (see BUGS). Usually there is a workaround—the exact nature of which would depend on the situation but which hopefully could be figured out.
cvs [init aborted]: cannot open CVS/Root: No such file or directory
This message is harmless. Provided it is not accompanied by other errors, the operation has completed successfully. This message should not occur with current versions of CVS, but it is documented here for the benefit of CVS 1.9 and older.
cvs server: cannot open /root/.cvsignore: Permission denied
cvs [server aborted]: can't chdir(/root): Permission denied
cvs [checkout aborted]: cannot rename file file to CVS/,,file: Invalid argument
This message has been reported as intermittently happening with CVS 1.9 on Solaris 2.5. The cause is unknown; if you know more about what causes it, let us know as described in BUGS.
cvs [command aborted]: cannot start server via rcmd
This, unfortunately, is a rather nonspecific error
message which CVS 1.9 will print if you are
running the CVS client and it is having trouble
connecting to the server. Current versions of CVS
should print a much more specific error message. If
you get this message when you didn’t mean to run the
client at all, you probably forgot to specify
:local:, as described in Repository.
ci: file,v: bad diff output line: Binary files - and /tmp/T2a22651 differ
CVS 1.9 and older will print this message when trying to check in a binary file if RCS is not correctly installed. Re-read the instructions that came with your RCS distribution and the INSTALL file in the CVS distribution. Alternately, upgrade to a current version of CVS, which checks in files itself rather than via RCS.
cvs checkout: could not check out file
With CVS 1.9, this can mean that the
(part of RCS) returned a failure. It should be
preceded by another error message, however it has been
observed without another error message and the cause is
not well-understood. With the current version of CVS,
which does not run
co, if this message occurs
without another error message, it is definitely a CVS
bug (see BUGS).
cvs [login aborted]: could not find out home directory
This means that you need to set the environment
variables that CVS uses to locate your home directory.
See the discussion of
cvs update: could not merge revision rev of file: No such file or directory
CVS 1.9 and older will print this message if there was
a problem finding the
rcsmerge program. Make
sure that it is in your
PATH, or upgrade to a
current version of CVS, which does not require
cvs [update aborted]: could not patch file: No such file or directory
This means that there was a problem finding the
patch program. Make sure that it is in your
PATH. Note that despite appearances the message
is not referring to whether it can find file.
If both the client and the server are running a current
version of CVS, then there is no need for an
external patch program and you should not see this
message. But if either client or server is running
CVS 1.9, then you need
cvs update: could not patch file; will refetch
This means that for whatever reason the client was unable to apply a patch that the server sent. The message is nothing to be concerned about, because inability to apply the patch only slows things down and has no effect on what CVS does.
dying gasps from server unexpected
There is a known bug in the server for CVS 1.9.18 and older which can cause this. For me, this was reproducible if I used the ‘-t’ global option. It was fixed by Andy Piper’s 14 Nov 1997 change to src/filesubr.c, if anyone is curious. If you see the message, you probably can just retry the operation which failed, or if you have discovered information concerning its cause, please let us know as described in BUGS.
end of file from server (consult above messages if any)
The most common cause for this message is if you are
using an external
ssh program and it exited with
an error. In this case the
rsh program should
have printed a message, which will appear before the
above message. For more information on setting up a
CVS client and server, see Remote repositories.
cvs [update aborted]: EOF in key in RCS file file,v
cvs [checkout aborted]: EOF while looking for end of string in RCS file file,v
This means that there is a syntax error in the given RCS file. Note that this might be true even if RCS can read the file OK; CVS does more error checking of errors in the RCS file. That is why you may see this message when upgrading from CVS 1.9 to CVS 1.10. The likely cause for the original corruption is hardware, the operating system, or the like. Of course, if you find a case in which CVS seems to corrupting the file, by all means report it, (see BUGS). There are quite a few variations of this error message, depending on exactly where in the RCS file CVS finds the syntax error.
cvs commit: Executing 'mkmodules'
This means that your repository is set up for a version of CVS prior to CVS 1.8. When using CVS 1.8 or later, the above message will be preceded by
cvs commit: Rebuilding administrative file database
If you see both messages, the database is being rebuilt
twice, which is unnecessary but harmless. If you wish
to avoid the duplication, and you have no versions of
CVS 1.7 or earlier in use, remove
every place it appears in your
file. For more information on the
Typically this can happen if you created an RCS file with your username set to empty. CVS will, bogusly, create an illegal RCS file with no value for the author field. The solution is to make sure your username is set to a non-empty value and re-create the RCS file.
cvs [checkout aborted]: no such tag tag
This message means that CVS isn’t familiar with the tag tag. Usually this means that you have mistyped a tag name; however there are (relatively obscure) cases in which CVS will require you to try a few other CVS commands involving that tag, before you find one which will cause CVS to update the val-tags file; see discussion of val-tags in File permissions. You only need to worry about this once for a given tag; when a tag is listed in val-tags, it stays there. Note that using ‘-f’ to not require tag matches does not override this check; see Common options.
cvs [command aborted]: out of memory
There is insufficient (virtual) memory available to continue. In client/server mode, the problem is almost certainly on the server rather than the client; see Server requirements for memory estimates. Many systems have limits on the amount of virtual memory that a single process can use, so a process can run out of virtual memory long before the system itself has run out. The method of increasing the per-process limits varies depending on the operating system.
*PANIC* administration files missing
This typically means that there is a directory named CVS but it does not contain the administrative files which CVS puts in a CVS directory. If the problem is that you created a CVS directory via some mechanism other than CVS, then the answer is simple, use a name other than CVS. If not, it indicates a CVS bug (see BUGS).
rcs error: Unknown option: -x,v/
This message will be followed by a usage message for RCS. It means that you have an old version of RCS (probably supplied with your operating system), as well as an old version of CVS. CVS 1.9.18 and earlier only work with RCS version 5 and later; current versions of CVS do not run RCS programs.
cvs [server aborted]: received broken pipe signal
This message can be caused by a loginfo program that fails to read all of the log information from its standard input. If you find it happening in any other circumstances, please let us know as described in BUGS.
'root' is not allowed to commit files
When committing a permanent change, CVS makes a log entry of
who committed the change. If you are committing the change logged
in as "root" (not under "su" or other root-priv giving program),
CVS cannot determine who is actually making the change.
As such, by default, CVS disallows changes to be committed by users
logged in as "root". (You can disable this option by passing the
--enable-rootcommit option to configure and recompiling CVS.
On some systems this means editing the appropriate config.h file
before building CVS.)
Terminated with fatal signal 11
This message usually indicates that CVS (the server, if you’re using client/server mode) has run out of (virtual) memory. Although CVS tries to catch the error and issue a more meaningful message, there are many circumstances where that is not possible. If you appear to have lots of memory available to the system, the problem is most likely that you’re running into a system-wide limit on the amount of memory a single process can use or a similar process-specific limit. The mechanisms for displaying and setting such limits vary from system to system, so you’ll have to consult an expert for your particular system if you don’t know how to do that.
Too many arguments!
This message is typically printed by the log.pl script which is in the contrib directory in the CVS source distribution. In some versions of CVS, log.pl has been part of the default CVS installation. The log.pl script gets called from the loginfo administrative file. Check that the arguments passed in loginfo match what your version of log.pl expects. In particular, the log.pl from CVS 1.3 and older expects the log file as an argument whereas the log.pl from CVS 1.5 and newer expects the log file to be specified with a ‘-f’ option. Of course, if you don’t need log.pl you can just comment it out of loginfo.
cvs [update aborted]: unexpected EOF reading file,v
See ‘EOF in key in RCS file’.
cvs [login aborted]: unrecognized auth response from server
This message typically means that the server is not set up properly. For example, if inetd.conf points to a nonexistent cvs executable. To debug it further, find the log file which inetd writes (/var/log/messages or whatever inetd uses on your system). For details, see Connection, and Password authentication server.
cvs commit: Up-to-date check failed for `file'
This means that someone else has committed a change to
that file since the last time that you did a
update. So before proceeding with your
commit you need to
cvs update. CVS will merge
the changes that you made and the changes that the
other person made. If it does not detect any conflicts
it will report ‘M file’ and you are ready
cvs commit. If it detects conflicts it will
print a message saying so, will report ‘C file’,
and you need to manually resolve the
conflict. For more details on this process see
Usage: diff3 [-exEX3 [-i | -m] [-L label1 -L label3]] file1 file2 file3
Only one of [exEX3] allowed
This indicates a problem with the installation of
rcsmerge was compiled to look for GNU diff3, but
it is finding unix diff3 instead. The exact text of
the message will vary depending on the system. The
simplest solution is to upgrade to a current version of
CVS, which does not rely on external
warning: unrecognized response `text' from cvs server
If text contains a valid response (such as ‘ok’) followed by an extra carriage return character (on many systems this will cause the second part of the message to overwrite the first part), then it probably means that you are using the ‘:ext:’ access method with a version of rsh, such as most non-unix rsh versions, which does not by default provide a transparent data stream. In such cases you probably want to try ‘:server:’ instead of ‘:ext:’. If text is something else, this may signify a problem with your CVS server. Double-check your installation against the instructions for setting up the CVS server.
cvs commit: [time] waiting for user's lock in directory
This is a normal message, not an error. See Concurrency, for more details.
cvs commit: warning: editor session failed
This means that the editor which CVS is using exits with a nonzero
exit status. Some versions of vi will do this even when there was not
a problem editing the file. If so, point the
CVSEDITOR environment variable to a small script
#!/bin/sh vi $* exit 0
cvs update: warning: file was lost
This means that the working copy of file has been deleted
but it has not been removed from CVS.
This is nothing to be concerned about,
the update will just recreate the local file from the repository.
(This is a convenient way to discard local changes to a file:
just delete it and then run
cvs update: warning: file is not (any longer) pertinent
This means that the working copy of file has been deleted, it has not been removed from CVS in the current working directory, but it has been removed from CVS in some other working directory. This is nothing to be concerned about, the update would have removed the local file anyway.
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