Better SCM Initiative : BitKeeper

Note about BitKeeper

Due to recent (as of 13 April 2005) developments, the information contained in these pages, may no longer be fully relevant. Refer to our summary page about this for more information.



BitKeeper is a commercial version control system by BitMover Inc. It comes in pay or lease licensing, where lease allows you to receive upgrades. It costs quite a bit. BitKeeper is a very powerful, capable and reliable version control system, that supports copies, moves and renames, atomic commits, changesets, distributed repositories and propagation of changesets, 3-way merging, etc. It is portable to all major UNIX flavours, and to Win32.

A BitKeeper license may be given to developers of open-source software, for exclusive work on open-source software. This requires negotiation with BitMover. (There used to be a gratis version available for that purpose under a restrictive license, but it was end-of-lifed.)

BitKeeper used to be utilized by many of the Linux Kernel developers, for managing the kernel source. Due to the fact BitKeeper is not open-source this move was quite controversial, and caused several flame-wars in the Linux Kernel Mailing List and elsewhere. When the gratis version was withdrawn in April 2005, the developers decided to convert to a different alternative.

BitKeeper has a few drawbacks. It can only duplicate a repository and work against it, and cannot work against a working copy of a snapshot. This makes large checkouts over a WAN very slow.


Deprecated but Still Pertinent

Why BitKeeper should be Open-Sourced Now - I eventually decided it would not be a good idea to fully open-source it, but the document gives some reasons that it could benefit from something similar.