Setting up command line CVS in Windows

(This page was adapted from http://mrsrl/~brian/cvstutorial/wincvs.html by

Command line CVS on Windows behaves identically to that on Linux. Even if you don't use Linux, command line CVS is a great way to REALLY learn and understand CVS.

An excellent reference for command line CVS is CVS Book.

You can also refer to the Putty documentation for using Putty with CVS.

These instructions are for Windows XP.

Install Putty

  1. Go to and download the Windows installer that installs all putty files.
  2. Run the putty installer.
  3. Go to the Docs page on the above website, and read what you need to know about ssh, etc. In particular, go through Chapters 8 and 9 and make sure that you can get pageant going, and connect a Putty shell without typing your password!

Install CVS

  1. Go to and download the latest cvs.exe for windows and extract it to your favorite location (e.g. C:\Program Files\CVS). If you have already installed WinCVS, then you already have cvs.exe installed in your WinCVS program directory.

Setting Environment Variables

In Windows, go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables
  1. Edit the system variable "Path" (remember to use a semicolon ";" to separate paths)
    1. append the putty program directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\PuTTy\)
    2. append the cvs.exe program directory
  2. Add the system variable "CVS_RSH" and set it to "plink.exe"
  3. Optionally add the user variable "CVSROOT" and set it to the cvs root that you use most (e.g. nmatter@dr5:/home/nmatter/cvsroot or nmatter@dr5:/mrsrl/home/cvs/depot)