rcsclean man page

rcsclean — clean up working files


rcsclean [options] [ file ... ]


rcsclean removes files that are not being worked on. rcsclean -u also unlocks and removes files that are being worked on but have not changed.

For each file given, rcsclean compares the working file and a revision in the corresponding RCS file. If it finds a difference, it does nothing. Otherwise, it first unlocks the revision if the -u option is given, and then removes the working file unless the working file is writable and the revision is locked. It logs its actions by outputting the corresponding rcs -u and rm -f commands on the standard output.

Files are paired as explained in ci(1). If no file is given, all working files in the current directory are cleaned. Filenames matching an RCS suffix denote RCS files; all others denote working files.

The number of the revision to which the working file is compared may be attached to any of the options -n, -q, -r, or -u. If no revision number is specified, then if the -u option is given and the caller has one revision locked, rcsclean uses that revision; otherwise rcsclean uses the latest revision on the default branch, normally the root.

rcsclean is useful for clean targets in makefiles. See also rcsdiff(1), which prints out the differences, and ci(1), which normally reverts to the previous revision if a file was not changed.


Use subst style keyword substitution when retrieving the revision for comparison. See co(1) for details.
Do not actually remove any files or unlock any revisions. Using this option will tell you what rcsclean would do without actually doing it.
Do not log the actions taken on standard output.
This option has no effect other than specifying the revision for comparison.
Preserve the modification time on the RCS file even if the RCS file changes because a lock is removed. This option can suppress extensive recompilation caused by a make(1) dependency of some other copy of the working file on the RCS file. Use this option with care; it can suppress recompilation even when it is needed, i.e. when the lock removal would mean a change to keyword strings in the other working file.
Unlock the revision if it is locked and no difference is found.
Print RCS's version number.
Emulate RCS version n. See co(1) for details.
Use suffixes to characterize RCS files. See ci(1) for details.
Use zone as the time zone for keyword substitution; see co(1) for details.


rcsclean *.c *.h

removes all working files ending in .c or .h that were not changed since their checkout.


removes all working files in the current directory that were not changed since their checkout.


rcsclean accesses files much as ci(1) does.


Options prepended to the argument list, separated by spaces. A backslash escapes spaces within an option. The RCSINIT options are prepended to the argument lists of most RCS commands. Useful RCSINIT options include -q, -V, -x, and -z.
Normally, for speed, commands either memory map or copy into memory the RCS file if its size is less than the memory-limit, currently defaulting to “unlimited”. Otherwise (or if the initially-tried speedy ways fail), the commands fall back to using standard i/o routines. You can adjust the memory limit by setting RCS_MEM_LIMIT to a numeric value lim (measured in kilobytes). An empty value is silently ignored. As a side effect, specifying RCS_MEM_LIMIT inhibits fall-back to slower routines.
Name of the temporary directory. If not set, the environment variables TMP and TEMP are inspected instead and the first value found is taken; if none of them are set, a host-dependent default is used, typically /tmp.


The exit status is zero if and only if all operations were successful. Missing working files and RCS files are silently ignored.


Author: Walter F. Tichy.
Manual Page Revision: 5.9.4; Release Date: 2016-02-05.
Copyright © 2010-2015 Thien-Thi Nguyen.
Copyright © 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 Paul Eggert.
Copyright © 1982, 1988, 1989 Walter F. Tichy.

See Also

ci(1), co(1), ident(1), rcs(1), rcsdiff(1), rcsmerge(1), rlog(1), rcsfile(5).

Walter F. Tichy, RCS--A System for Version Control, Software--Practice & Experience 15, 7 (July 1985), 637-654.

The full documentation for RCS is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info(1) and RCS programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info rcs

should give you access to the complete manual. Additionally, the RCS homepage:


has news and links to the latest release, development site, etc.


At least one file must be given in older Unix versions that do not provide the needed directory scanning operations.

Referenced By

ci(1), co(1), rcs(1), rcsfile(5), rcsfreeze(1).

Explore man page connections for rcsclean(1).

GNU RCS 5.9.4 2016-02-05