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Bazaar vs Subversion

This page is obsolete!

See Ten reasons to switch to Bazaar instead.


Subversion is well established as a popular choice for many software projects, both open source and commercial. Importantly, Subversion cleaned up many of CVS's warts and provided an easy upgrade path for CVS users. The big problem with Subversion is that "a better CVS" is centralized and even with support for sparse checkouts and checklists still doesn't deliver enough.

The Subversion developers are aware of this and added basic merge tracking to Subversion 1.5 and are looking at distributed VCS technology as part of their 2.0 plans. Given the challenges involved in making a central VCS architecture into a distributed one, it may be several years before Subversion catches up to DVCS tools, if ever. For example, merge tracking within one repository is one thing - merge tracking across arbitrarily distributed repositories is quite another. If you're serious about making collaboration as easy as possible, you need the latter.

For many teams, there's simply no need to wait or hope for better versions of Subversion. Bazaar shares many of its strengths - cross platform, a high focus on usability, ease of integration, direct support for central workflows, commercial support available - while delivering many added benefits. Here are some common reasons for selecting Bazaar over Subversion:

  • More adaptive - direct support for more workflows makes collaboration easier

  • Better merging - fully integrated and works across distributed repositories
  • Lower administration - much easier to set up
  • Disconnected operation
  • Better renaming support.

As of Q4 2007, the main reason for sticking with Subversion over Bazaar was the maturity of 3rd party tool integration. This is rapidly changing though given the active community supporting Bazaar. As of Q2 2008 Subversion added support for sparse checkouts and changelists that allowed developers in big projects to concentrate over parts of a source tree without downloading heavyweight branches.

Subversion's advantages over Bazaar

Subversion has full support for file copies. Bazaar only supports file moves.


A detailed look at Bazaar vs Subversion is provided by John Arbash Meinel here: