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Setting up a Subversion server using Apache on Ubuntu

By admin | August 9, 2010

Subversion is an excellent open-source solution for keeping track of the different versions while developing software. Here, we will see how to set up a subversion server on an Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server to provide programmers with the ability to use Subversion.


Apache 2 should have already been installed and configured with SSL - if not, see the Ubuntu Server Guide for more details. Install the packages subversion and libapache2-svn:

sudo apt-get install subversion libapache2-svn

Setting up

  1. Create a home for the Subversion files:
    sudo mkdir -p /var/svn
  2. Open up /etc/apache2/mods-available/dav_svn.conf in your favourite text editor of choice, and add the following text at the bottom (ignore anything already there):
    <Location /svn>
         DAV svn
         SVNParentPath /var/svn
         SVNListParentPath On
         AuthType Basic
         AuthName "Subversion Repository"
         AuthUserFile /etc/subversion/passwd
            Require valid-user
  3. Add a user to the Subversion - if you don’t, you may end up with strange errors like “svn: Server sent unexpected return value (500 Internal Server Error) in response to MKACTIVITY request” when trying to commit.
    sudo htpasswd -c /etc/subversion/passwd admin

    It will prompt for a password - just give it something.

  4. You’re good to go - although without any projects the server won’t have anything to commit to. Add a project to the server:
    sudo mkdir -p /var/svn/project
    sudo svnadmin create /var/svn/project


svn commit -m nomsg test1 test2  --username=root --password=top_secret_root_password_here
svn: Commit failed (details follow):
svn: Server sent unexpected return value (500 Internal Server Error) in response
 to MKACTIVITY request for '/svn/project/!svn/act/53aca034-c64b-5b41-8bf4-

This error is because you do not have a valid login passed to the server, although it could use a much, much more descriptive message than “Internal Server Error”. Remember the login is not the Unix login, but instead the login created with htpassed.

svn commit -m nomsg test01 test02 --user
name=admin  --password=password_createdby_htpasswd_here
Adding         test01
Adding         test02

Committed revision 1.

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Topics: HTTP (Internet), Linux | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Setting up a Subversion server using Apache on Ubuntu”

  1. no body Says:
    November 25th, 2010 at 3:57 am

    is its posible to view the source browser?
    like http://localhost/svn:8433

  2. Jordan Says:
    May 20th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This may seem obvious, but somehow I overlooked it during the setup of the repo. If you’re creating that /etc/svn/passwd file for the first time as root, then you need to alter the ownership as well:

    chown -R www-data:subversion /etc/svn

    If you do not, then you get the same 500 error as described above since the web server cannot authenticate the user.

    I hope this helps others as well.