Lessons from PostgreSQL's Git transition

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2022-09-24 00:00:16

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The PostgreSQL Project finally switched from CVS to Git in September 2010, and did its first release based on the new Git repository on October 5. Making the switch happen took years and resulted in at least one near-disaster. Other projects that are contemplating, or working on, a transition in their version control system may find useful lessons in how PostgreSQL fared.

Switching version control systems is a relatively straightforward process for a young project, but not for an old one. From 1996 through mid-September 2010, the PostgreSQL Project was developed using CVS. In fact, the date the CVS server went live — July 8, 1996 — is generally considered the "birthday" of the open-source project, which came out of the ten-year-old university project. Twenty-one major releases and 154 minor releases were committed, branched, and packaged on CVS. A large web and development infrastructure existed around CVS, as well as a multi-step, multi-role release procedure.

In 2004, as Subversion was beginning to become popular, PostgreSQL contributors first started to argue about switching away from CVS. However, Subversion was not seen as sufficiently mature at the time, or as offering enough advantages over CVS. This discussion, and occasional flamewars, continued to crop up on the main "pgsql-hackers" mailing list. Those who wanted to migrate off of CVS split into multiple camps based on the system they preferred, including Subversion, Arch, and Monotone. And, of course, a large group of developers saw no reason to change at all.

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