How to make Gentoo’s CVS access suck less …

This post started out as a major rant against CVS and how it sucks to be using it from Europe and how all those round trips in the protocol make even just bumping a single ebuild a tedious task that I have never been able to do in under 4~5 minutes.

But no! I shall not lower myself to this level and instead write a praise for the OpenSSH folks who through their l33t coding skills give us the opportunity to improve CVS for free 😀

The problem : the CVS protocol sucks because for each file/directory you want to update, CVS will open a new SSH connection to send its command. The SSH protocol does not really help with that since creating a new connection brings a lot of overhead.

The solution : use the OpenSSH ControlMaster option to tell it to use a single connection that stays open (somewhat like Keep-alive in HTTP) and that will be used to create new “sub-connections” that are much cheaper.

“How?” you ask me. Well, here’s how.

  1. Add this to your ~/.ssh/config

    Host *
    ControlMaster auto
    ControlPath ~/.ssh/master-%r@%h:%p

  2. After running ssh-agent, run the following command :

    ssh -M -N -f

  3. Enjoy a 3x speed-up like I did! For those that doubt it, here’s how I measured

    cd gentoo-x86/profiles
    find &> /dev/null
    time cvs up -dP
    ssh -M -N -f
    time cvs up -dP

I’d like to give a big “Thank You” to Robin who suggested I try those steps and helped me set them up. Here’s to hoping it helps other fellow devs 😉


  • for the configuration file
  • for a simple explanation of the command line options

One thought on “How to make Gentoo’s CVS access suck less …”

  1. Can we get that added to our docs as the speedup is just awesome

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