You've seen how a repository can be accessed in many different ways. But is it possible—or safe—for your repository to be accessed by multiple methods simultaneously? The answer is yes, provided you use a bit of foresight.
At any given time, these processes may require read and write access to your repository:
Regular system users using a Subversion client (as themselves) to access the repository directly via
Regular system users connecting to SSH-spawned private svnserve processes (running as themselves), which access the repository
An svnserve process—either a daemon or one launched by inetd—running as a particular fixed user
An Apache httpd process, running as a particular fixed user
The most common problem administrators run into is
repository ownership and permissions. Does every process (or
user) in the preceding list have the rights to read and write the
repository's underlying data files? Assuming you have a
Unix-like operating system, a straightforward approach might be
to place every potential repository user into a
svn group, and make the repository wholly
owned by that group. But even that's not enough, because a
process may write to the database files using an unfriendly
umask—one that prevents access by other users.
So the next step beyond setting up a common group for
repository users is to force every repository-accessing process
to use a sane umask. For users accessing the repository
directly, you can make the svn program into a
wrapper script that first runs
umask 002 and
then runs the real svn client program. You
can write a similar wrapper script for the
svnserve program, and add a
002 command to Apache's own startup script,
apachectl. For example:
$ cat /usr/bin/svn #!/bin/sh umask 002 /usr/bin/svn-real "$@"
Another common problem is often encountered on Unix-like
systems. If your repository is backed by Berkeley DB, for
example, it occasionally creates new log files to journal its
actions. Even if the Berkeley DB repository is wholly owned by
svn group, these newly created log files
won't necessarily be owned by that same group, which then
creates more permissions problems for your users. A good
workaround is to set the group SUID bit on the
db directory. This causes all
newly created log files to have the same group owner as the
Once you've jumped through these hoops, your repository should be accessible by all the necessary processes. It may seem a bit messy and complicated, but the problems of having multiple users sharing write access to common files are classic ones that are not often elegantly solved.
Fortunately, most repository administrators will never
need to have such a complex configuration.
Users who wish to access repositories that live on the same
machine are not limited to using
access URLs—they can typically contact the Apache HTTP
server or svnserve using
localhost for the server name in their
And maintaining multiple server processes for your Subversion
repositories is likely to be more of a headache than necessary.
We recommend that you choose a single server that best meets your
needs and stick with it!