Importing CVS repositories with Graph Based Algorithms

The cvs2svn people, mainly Michael Haggerty have come up with a new algorithm (see his mail) for cvs2svn 2.0, which is based on GraphTheory. In the branch net.venge.monotone.cvsimport-branch-reconstruction, MarkusWanner maintains an implementation in C++, with some monotone specific modifications.


An import consists of three steps:

  • parsing the RCS files to collect all events into blobs
  • split dependency cycles between those blobs
  • streamline the graph, to resolve branch affiliation
  • consuming the blobs in the graph to create monotone revisions

Parsing the RCS files

In a first step, the RCS files are parsed to generate file deltas and hashes. In all subsequent steps, files are only referred to by the hash, which allows us to do most CVS conversions in memory (as an example, importing the mozilla repository peaked at around 1.8 gb memory usage, last time I tried). Additionally, we also collect all cvs_events into blobs. Such cvs_events (which should probably better be called rcs_events) can be:

  • cvs_commit: the commit action for this single file
  • cvs_symbol: a symbol on a specific commit
  • cvs_tag: a tag for the file at the underlying symbol
  • cvs_branch_start: a branchpoint or start of a branch at the underlying symbol
  • cvs_branch_end: end of a branch

According to the RCS version numbers, dependencies between those events are recorded, i.e.:

  • a commit of revision 1.2 depends on revision 1.1
  • symbol MY_TAG depends on the commit of revision 1.4, the cvs_tag for MY_TAG then depends on that symbol

Depending on the type of these cvs_events, they are collected in blobs: cvs_commits with the same author and changelog end up in the same blob, obviously all equally named symbols also get their own blob. And based on the underlying symbol, all cvs_tag, cvs_branch_start and cvs_branch_end events are also collected in a separate blob.

After this step, the dependency graph looks something like this one here, from the importing_cvs_small_real_repo unit test:

example dependency graph

Splitting dependency cycles

In a second step, we check the graph for dependency cycles using a depth first search. Upon discovery of such a cycle, we try to find the best split point, to split one blob of that cycle into two. The simplest, and currently used method is splitting at the largest gap in time. This is repeated until no more cycles are left, we then have an acyclic graph, but not a tree - meaning there can still be cross or forward edges.

See such a dependency cycle highlighted in red below, from the importing_cvs_cycle_splitter2 unit test. As commit "blob A" has the largest gap in time, it's the one to get split up into two independent blobs in that sample. The example above does not have any cycles.

dependency cycle example

Streamlining the graph

To figure out in what branch a certain blob belongs to, we'd like to get a tree of branches. Additionally, as CVS - unlike monotone - cannot represent multiple heads and merges, we'd like to eliminate all cross or forward edges. We do that in various ways, ... to be described...

A sample for such a cross or forward edge, from the small_real_repo test:

cross edge example

Consuming the blobs

As we now have a tree of blobs (revisions), it's trivial to import that into monotone. See the streamlined graphs from our two example unit tests, first the simpler cycle_splitter2:

cycle_splitter2 graph after streamlining

And here the small_real_repo in all its beauty:

small_real_repo graph after streamlining

Another Sample, from importing_cvs_cycle_splitter3

Involving cycles with branch starts:

Real World test repositories, and how they are currently failing

Tested with: 040f83b3bcd4c04adc7e3947d06a9ccffc223ad5 2008-05-01T14:00:49

  • netbsd/othersrc: creating monotone revs: ../nvm.cbr/,018: invariant 'I(parent_blobs.size() == 1)' violated
  • openssl/openssl: cycle splitting stage: ../nvm.cbr/,598: invariant 'I(false)' violated
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