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Today i describe the few steps of installation of subversion (with repository) on Linux (Debian lenny). That description show the installtion proccess in 5 steps. And the configuration of Apache Mod-DAV as additiona information. So let’s start.

Step 1: Install subversion

If subversion is not installed, install it with:

$apt-get install subversion

Step 2: Create repository

Prepare place for repositories. Standard good palace is /var/svn but i personally prefer /srv/svn. (What is your favorite? Why?)

#create directory
$ mkdir /srv/svn/
$ mkdir /srv/svn/java

Create File system based repository (FSFS) or DB based. Today state of the art are FSFS repositories.
So just use FSFS based repositories, believe there are many advantages compared to Berkley DB.

#create FSFS repository
$ svnadmin create --fs-type fsfs /srv/svn/java

Step 3: Access control

At this point subversion is running and it’s best time to think about user access rights to repositories.
First create new group for svn users and assign it to your repo. In my case I’ve defined one repository special for java projects so i wanna use special group for that.

$ addgroup svnjava     # create new group for java repository
#apply that group to the repository location
$ chgrp -R svnjava /srv/svn/java

Now change authorization of the group on desired repository.

$ chmod -R g+rw  /srv/svn/java       # group mebers my write
$ chmod -R o-rwx  /srv/svn/java      # other not.
$ chmod g+s /srv/svn/java/db         #  this ensures log-write

Create new linux users (if not ready) and him to the group

$ useradd aho #new user
$ adduser aho svnjava #assigning user to the group

Soon user aho will be able to access subversion repository, but first we have to proceed with the next step.

Step 4: Additional configuration

Repository needs to be configured a little to be useful. Open conf/svnserve.conf in you new repository

$ nano /srv/svn/java/conf/svnserve.conf

and remove comments (#) from these lines.:

anon-access = read
auth-access = write
realm = My Java Repository

Then save file.

Step 5: Umask

After previous steps we have an repository which is suitable for one user but concurrency usage by many users will run into problems by default umask 022.
So the common solution is to make a wrapper invocation of subversion. Let’s create an wrapper step by step.
Find where you subversion i currently installed with the following command.

$ which svnserve
#returnes me

Now rename original svnserve to svnserve_orig, create new file named svnserve with following:

$ mv /usr/bin/svnserve /usr/bin/svnserve_orig #renamin' of orinignal svn
$ touch /usr/bin/svnserve # create new wrapper
$ chmod 755 /usr/bin/svnserve #set rights as original

Now add following to new wrapper script svnserve

umask 002
/usr/bin/svnserve_orig $*

So we’re done!

P.S. See how easy you can move you repository or do backups

UPD! Subversion with Mod DAV

On default svn is not called by a superserver line xindet .d. But it does not matter if you prefer svn+ssh access. In this case you access the svn machine directly trough ssh and call svnserve commands virtually direct on remote machine, so don’t need to configure anything more.

But, if you have problems with firewalls, witch clients software or just want to have more flexibility, you may be interested in accessing you repository through http:// or https://. In dies case mod_dav commes in to play.

Mod DAV step by step

1) Install Apache server if not already done it.
$ apt-get install apache2
2) Configure Apache Server

Normally Apache package has all of the common mods including mod_dav_svn. Debian distribution has a package libapache2-svnwhich registers needed modules for you.
So just install it:

$ apt-get install subversion libapache2-svn

Now all needed modules are registered to Apache. You just have to provide a concrete configuration for your svn repository.
Here is one simple example how i do it i my case. Works fine.

# Check the location of dav_svn.conf then just
# copy all following lines to your shell and hit enter.
#  conf will be appended to dav_svn.conf
echo "
DAV svn
SVNPath /srv/svn/java

AuthType Basic
AuthName "My Java Repository"
AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/svn.pass
Require valid-user

" >> /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/dav_svn.conf

This configuration is self-explainable.

  • SVNPath = Path to repository location,
  • <location /svn/java> = is path in acces URL, e.g. http://mydomain/svn/java/
  • AuthType Basic = means password based access
  • AuthUserFile point to a file with user and passwords.

Red more about Auth Modulif interested in advanced configuration.

3) Now you only need to create some user an passwords.
# -c option is used to create new password file.
# Don't use it if create scond user.
$ htpasswd -cm /etc/apache2/svn.pass aho

If you try open it now, you’ll run in to an error. It’s because now the svn repository is accessed by a user of Apache server. Default it would be www-data.

4) So just give him some more rights.
$ adduser www-data svnjava

5) Reload apache configuration.

Manual approach

If you are not able to useĀ  libapache2-svn, then you have to register required modules manually:

#make sure your apache is ins /usr/lib64/apache2. adapt path otherways.
$ echo "LoadModule dav_svn_module  /urs/lib64/apache2/modules/
LoadModule authz_svn_module  /urs/lib64/apache2/ modules/"
>> /etc/apache2/conf.d/svn.conf

More information and examples can be found in SVN Book in server-conf chapter.

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  • Simon Zambrovski

    You forgot to describe the start-up scripts… I’m missing the descussion on the run mode too (apache vs. svnserve)…

  • shuron

    Thank you Simon,
    that are two really important questions. I personally prefer svn+ssh access method. And in this case i don’t have to run svnserve as a daemon and a don’t even have to register it in super-server (inetd, xinetd) because connection is provided through ssh daemon and svnserve is practically called “directly.”
    However this is maybe insufficient to people which often works behind firewalls.

    P.S. I have updated my post with some additional info on this.

  • John French

    You can download the latest version of Subversion with auto updates via apt here:

    They always seem to release within days of the Subversion project releasing a new version.

  • shuron

    I have updated this post, with information of configuration the MOD_dav_svn to be able access subversion via http. Hope some one would find it useful.

  • mm

    on Debian: a2enmod

  • shuron

    Thank you for that (sparse :) ) hint.
    a2enmod should replace manual approach of module registering on Debian.
    $a2enmod dav_svn