CVS for Administrators

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.2. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: CVS for Administrators.

Note: Note that Moodle development now takes place using the Git version control system. You may find it better to read Git for Administrators than this page if you want to use Git. However, CVS is still the easiest way to do it on many servers, and we will continue providing CVS mirrors of the Moodle code for the foreseeable future.

The CVS archive contains all the source code for Moodle. You can use a CVS program to extract versions ranging from the most stable release to the most cutting-edge development version. CVS can be an extremely convenient way of maintaining a Moodle server.

CVS tree

Developers may have selective write access to the Moodle CVS archive (see CVS for Developers for details about how to do this). However, most people only need read-only access, so they can just connect to one of the mirrors using anonymous CVS as described below. There can however currently be a delay of up to 1 hour between the time a developer commits changes to developer CVS and the time it becomes available on anonymous CVS.

CVS Servers

Please choose the closest CVS mirror server to you from this list:

Country Server Provided by
EU The Open University In case of trouble, contact Rod Norfor or Derek Woolhead
ES Mondragon Unibertsitatea In case of trouble, contact or
UK The Open University In case of trouble, contact Rod Norfor or Derek Woolhead
US San Francisco State University, Academic Technology (SFSU). In case of trouble, contact iLearn support
US The Contractors Institute pserver and viewvc. In case of trouble contact network support.

Replace the in the instructions below with the server you chose above!

For up-to-date alerts about planned or unplanned outages on any of these servers subscribe to the Moodle Outage mailing list. See for server availability.

(If you would like to contribute to the project by running a mirror, please see How to set up a CVS mirror)

Moodle versions and CVS branches

CVS stores every version of Moodle there has ever been. Versions are organised into branches as in the diagram at the top of this page. There is one branch for each series of stable releases, so the 1.9.x releases all come from the MOODLE_19_STABLE branch.

Along that branch, each actual release is marked with a tag. For example the Moodle 1.9 release is tagged MOODLE_19, and the 1.9.1 release is MOODLE_191. The latest 1.9.x+ weekly build is always tagged MOODLE_19_WEEKLY.

If you want Moodle 2.0, check out MOODLE_20_WEEKLY.

The latest development version is what all the stable branches branch away from. It is sometimes called HEAD or TRUNK. Use with caution.

As explained below you when you do a CVS checkout, you choose which version you want.

Installing and maintaining Moodle via CVS

From a Unix computer

To connect and login for the first time to the CVS server, you can use this command (remember to replace in the instructions below with the mirror server you chose above):

cvs login

There is no password - when asked for one, just hit Enter.

To checkout (download) the entire Moodle code for the first time, use this command to get the latest WEEKLY version (generally the latest, most bug free version):

cvs -z3 co -P -r MOODLE_19_WEEKLY moodle

Or the latest development version - sometimes called HEAD - (not for production use):

cvs -z3 co -P moodle

Or the modules in Contrib

cvs -z3 co contrib

Later, to update your local copy of Moodle to the current version in CVS you just need to go into your local Moodle directory and type:

cvs update -dP

To update your local copy of Moodle to a new version (e.g. from 1.8+ to 1.9), go into your local Moodle directory and type:

cvs update -dP -r MOODLE_19_STABLE

To update your local copy of Moodle to a version from a specific date (e.g. 4th February 2009), go into your local Moodle directory and type:

 cvs -q update -dP -r MOODLE_19_STABLE -D "4 Feb 2009"

To update your local copy and to save the log of the process, use the following command instead the previous one:

cvs update -dP -r MOODLE_19_STABLE | tee upgrade.log

Then look at the upgrade.log, notably look for lines starting with "C" (conflict):

grep '^C' upgrade.log

Conflicts may appear in case you have manually modified your source files. You have to resolve conflicts before using the site. See CVS for Developers for more details.

Changing the directory name

By default, the CVS checkout creates a directory on your webserver called 'moodle'. If you want your Moodle installation in a different directory, you can change the name of the directory that it will checkout the files to, by typing the following. This would download the MOODLE_19_STABLE branch into a directory called "mydirectory" (-d mydirectory).

cvs -z3 co -P -d mydirectory -r MOODLE_19_STABLE moodle

Or the latest development version to a directory called 'moodle-dev':

cvs -z3 co -P -d moodle-dev moodle

You can also change the name of the directory after the files are downloaded, and before you go through the Moodle install process. If you change the name of the directory before install, it will not affect anything during the install or during a CVS update. If you change the name of the directory after an install, you will need to change the config.php to reflect the name change (guidance here). It won't affect the CVS update though.

Change directory owner

Depending on your webserver setup, you may well need to change the owner of the directory to the webserver user. Follow this step if you get permissions error when you try to access the page. For apache:

 chown -R www-data:www-data moodle

From a Windows computer

To get started with a fresh copy of Moodle, follow the following steps (remember to replace in the instructions below with the mirror server you chose above):
Tortoise CVS Screen capture
Tortoise CVS (real name) Screen capture
  1. Get TortoiseCVS from and install it, then reboot.
  2. Find or create a new folder somewhere where you want Moodle to be downloaded to.
  3. Right-mouse-click that folder and choose "CVS Checkout" from the menu. You should see a dialog box.
  4. Copy this text into the CVSROOT field:
    • NOTE - replace "SERVER" with "eu", "es", "uk" or "us" depending on your location.
  5. Under the "Module" field, type "moodle" to get moodle. (Other options here include"contrib" to get the contrib directory of hacks and addons, or "mysql" to get the optional MySQL Admin module).
    • For the latest STABLE version, click on the "Revision" tab and then check the radio button labelled "Choose branch or tag". From the drop-down menu select MOODLE_18_STABLE.
    • If you don't see the very latest version in the long drop-down list under Branch or tag name, click the Update List button next to it and wait for the list to be updated.
    • For the latest UNSTABLE development version, the radio-button "Use HEAD branch" in the Revision tab should be checked.
  6. Press the button: "OK" and everything should be downloaded.

Later, to update your local copy of Moodle to the current version in CVS, just right-mouse-click the folder and choose "CVS Update".

Note that the enclosing moodle folder is self-contained - you can move it anywhere you like or even rename it.

NOTE.- Admins with a developer account on can connect with their account name, see attached screen shot.

From a Mac OS X computer

You will find useful informations about CVS and Mac OS X in the documentation for the complete installation package Moodle4Mac and for the Mac OS X Server installation.

Please read How to update your Moodle4Mac or How to install and to update Moodle via CVS. It works fine with the Moodle CVS servers.


If you see something like this, make sure that there is not some firewall blocking the port (it's 2401):

$ cvs login
Logging in to
CVS password:
cvs [login aborted]: connect to failed: Connection timed out

Switching to a new CVS server

If you were already using CVS and want to switch to a different server, you'll probably need to make a small change so that the control files in your working copy will point to the new mirrors.

Switching to a new server on Unix

Use a shell command like this to change existing installations to point to the new mirror (UK mirror used in this example):

find . -type f -name Root -print0 | xargs -0 perl -pi -e 's/\@moodle\.cvs\.sourceforge\.net/\@uk\.cvs\.moodle\.org/'

It can be run from /home, say, to fix multiple sites at once.

Switching to a new server with TortoiseCVS

If you were already using Tortoise CVS on Windows it's tricky, because Tortoise doesn't have any interface for changing the server. explains it. But basically,

1) Install WinCVS and launch it. 
2) Navigate to and select your Moodle folder. 
3) Choose 'Macros'->CVS->Change Root from the menu.  
4) Accept (or change) the default for the 'old' server. 
5) Type the new server name. OK!  

It takes a few seconds to go through all of the cvs folders and update the root files.

By the way, if you don't want to install WinCVS, another way of doing this is to uninstall your TortoiseCVS client on Windows, then do a regedit to clean up all the tortoisecvs related entries (might not be necessary), then reinstall TortoiseCVS client again (a good reason to upgrade to the most recent version of TortoiseCVS!). I have tested this and it cleared up the original setting of the original anonymous CVS server setting.

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: