We are bootstrapping a new team of very small size (say 2-5) my question is: which type of version control works best for these kind of teams, either centralized or distributed.

  • Try SVN tortoisesvn.tigris.org This is best 4 you. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 6:23
  • What dó you want to write, and what platforme?
    – user1249
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 10:09

8 Answers 8


Distributed all the way, there is really no point for centralized anymore IMHO, specially if you are talking about team development.

Another vote for Mercurial, no hassles to setup under windows and bitbucket.org has free repositories (that can be private) with unlimited space.

If you are planning to work on a open source project, git and Github seem to be more adequate/popular. However, if you haven't ventured into DVCSs, I recommend you start with Mercurial and this awesome guide.

  • 1
    +1 for that awesome guide from Joel Spolsky. Great stuff. Also, even if you are very small now, like @dukeofgaming says, there is no point for starting out centralized anymore. Even if you're only planning slightly ahead. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 5:06
  • For projects caring about software freedom, gitorious is probably better than github. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 10:21
  • @Lars: What do you mean by "software freedom"?
    – Richard Ev
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 11:02
  • 5
    Even as a lone developer Mercurial makes perfect sense. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 12:16
  • amen @Helper Method, that is how I started to use it Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 15:19

the one that you will all use consistently

[personally, i like Mercurial]

  • 15
    As long as it's not SourceSafe. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 4:40

Probably the best answer is "whatever you're comfortable with." Even when working on personal stuff, I use Git. It seems to do a pretty good job of scaling both up and down and my limited experience with Mercurial is about the same.

  • From my limited experience with Git -- if you're on a Windows platform, Git tools are not ready for prime time there yet. Stick with Mercurial (or Kiln). On other platforms, Git is probably fine. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 5:08
  • 1
    Msysgit works nicely if you are familiar with a Shell prompt.
    – user1249
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 10:10
  • @Mark you are certainly correct if folks don't want command line. However, Git command line (with a shell as Thorbjorn points out) is fine. I only program on Windows and am using Git for VS projects. There's certainly nothing that approaches TortoiseSVN and AnkhSVN for Git though.
    – MIA
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 16:48

I think you should choose whatever you are comfortable with. In a small team, you will not have different code-trees (like the Linux-kernel), so a central repository is OK. But you can have this setup also with distributed VCS. So I would go with popularity and personal experience. Popular are SVN, git and Mercurial. You should decide, which o them is best used with your team (experience, tool-support in your choosen IDE etc.).


It really depends of whether or not your developers are going to develop a lot of code offline or not, but only to choose between a distributed or centralized repository, since this is the first thing you should decide. Then, if you decide that a centralized approach works better than SVN is all you need. On the other side if you go for a distributed approach than go for git, even on windows it's good enough since now you have tortoise git (the same interface that also exists for svn). Also, don't count so much on the IDE support because you might get a nasty surprise if you ever use that, and you might find that files that shouldn't be commit do get committed in your behalf by the IDE.


Ask your team, if some one want to take care of it. It is much better to have stable system, and responsible person, than good system when none care about it, and none able to restore it from backup.

If there is such person - he will already know what to use, so just accept his decision. If not - get some hosted solution. It would be very stupid try GIT (one of the best) if all of developers never touched Shell/Linux.

It also depends of number of "nontechnical" people, that need to read/contribute. Just make sure that they could use it, and there are tools available.


SVN is widely supported in tools. Tooling is the key; different people will have different skill sets. Some will prefer command line, some will prefer IDE based tools, some will prefer graphical tools. At the moment SVN seems to be the most widely supported tool.

Other than that Mercurial or Git.


I think that in small companies there are arguments for having certain things centralized. (Think for example about offsite backup. When you only have 2 persons working on a project and they are housing in the same building and there is a fire, decentralized to all of two computers might not be enough.)

However: having a partly centralized solution doesn't limit you to a centralized system. You can just push to an outside server with something like git or mercurial.

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