The unique feature of CVS is its ability to provide anonymous read-only access to everybody connected to the Internet. Everybody can get the last minute's sources of a project managed by CVS, as well as scan the previous versions for a particular change in the sources. This and the fact that CVS is released under the GNU General Public License explain why CVS is de-facto the version system for open source software (although please consider Subversion for new projects).
Further information and download instruction are available at the CVS homepage http://www.cvshome.org/
The client and the server are supposed to communicate in order to exchange the changes in the sources. However, the connection to the server is not required for editing the sources and building the project.
You can tune some parameters in the administrative files stored by CVS on the client side. This will allow you to switch from one CVS server to another without hassle with environment variables.
If you (or your editor) are careful enough to save the original copies of the files you modify, you can create a patch without going online! Moreover, since special care is taken to prevent irrelevant information (backup file names, RCS paths, context for ChangeLog entries) from appearing in the resulting patch, it is likely to be even easier to read and apply than the one created by "cvs diff"!
CVS is used not only over slow connections. Many people use it at work over fast and reliable networks. It takes seconds to check out the fresh copy of the whole repository. Usually this type of development doesn't require sending patches by e-mail.
This means that the area of applicability of CVS is wider than that of CVS Utilities. However, it may change some day.
Those who want to be on the bleeding edge or just help with the development should be using the CVS version. For anonymous CVS access to the CVS Utilities you need to run the following commands:
cvs -d :pserver:firstname.lastname@example.org:/usr/local/cvs co cvsutilsMake sure you have a recent version of CVS that won't ask you for the password when it's empty.
email@example.com - general discussion.