Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Subversion Server on Debian


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to install Subversion Server on Debian! In this article, we’ll walk you through each step of the process, providing detailed explanations and helpful tips along the way. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a beginner, you’ll find all the information you need to set up your own Subversion Server on Debian.

Subversion (SVN) is an open-source version control system that helps developers manage code changes, track revisions, and collaborate on projects. With SVN, you can easily share files and folders between team members, roll back changes, and keep track of code history.

In this guide, we’ll be using Debian 10 (Buster) as our operating system. However, the instructions should also work for other Debian-based distributions. Let’s dive in!


Before we get started, make sure you have the following:

Debian 10 (Buster)
Or other Debian-based distribution
Root access
Or non-root user with sudo privileges
Terminal or SSH client
To access the server

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Update and Upgrade Debian

Before installing any new software, it’s essential to update and upgrade your operating system. Open the terminal or SSH client and enter the following command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

This will update the package list and upgrade any existing packages to their latest versions.

Step 2: Install Apache Web Server

The next step is to install Apache, the most popular web server in use today. Enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 -y

Once installed, start the Apache service and enable it to start automatically on boot:

sudo systemctl start apache2

sudo systemctl enable apache2

Step 3: Install Subversion Server

Now it’s time to install the Subversion server. Enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install subversion libapache2-mod-svn -y

This will install both the Subversion server and the Apache module required to serve the SVN repository over HTTP.

Step 4: Create a Repository

With the Subversion server installed, it’s time to create a repository. First, create a directory to store the repository:

sudo mkdir /svn

Next, create a new SVN repository:

sudo svnadmin create /svn/myrepo

Replace myrepo with the name of your repository. You can create multiple repositories in the same directory if needed.

Step 5: Configure Apache

To serve the SVN repository over HTTP, we need to configure Apache. Open the default-ssl.conf file in your preferred text editor:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

Add the following lines at the end of the file:

<Location /svn>
  DAV svn
  SVNParentPath /svn
  AuthType Basic
  AuthName "SVN Repository"
  AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd
  Require valid-user

Save and close the file. This will enable the SVN module, set the parent path to our repository directory, and require authentication for users to access the repository.

Step 6: Create Users and Passwords

To authenticate users, we need to create a password file. Enter the following command:

sudo htpasswd -c /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd username

Replace username with the username of the user you want to create. You’ll be prompted to enter and confirm a password.

You can create additional users by omitting the -c flag:

sudo htpasswd /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd anotherusername

Note that you should only use the -c flag the first time you create the file. Using it again will overwrite the existing file and all usernames and passwords.

Step 7: Restart Apache

Finally, restart the Apache service to apply the changes:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Your Subversion Server is now up and running! Users can access the repository by entering the URL https://your-server-ip/svn/myrepo into their SVN client, such as TortoiseSVN.

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Advantages and Disadvantages


Version Control: Subversion provides easy version control for your code, allowing you to track changes and collaborate with team members.

Easy to Use: Subversion is straightforward to set up and use, even for beginners.

Open-Source: Subversion is open-source and free to use, making it an affordable option for small businesses and startups.


Learning Curve: Subversion has a learning curve, and it may take some time to master all of its features and functionalities.

Centralized System: Subversion is a centralized version control system, meaning that all changes must go through a central repository. This can lead to bottlenecks and delays, especially with large teams.

Security Risks: As with any software, Subversion is vulnerable to security risks. It’s essential to keep your Subversion Server up to date and implement adequate security measures to protect your code and data.


1. Can I install Subversion Server on other operating systems?

Yes, Subversion Server is available for Windows, Linux, and other operating systems. However, the installation process may differ from the one outlined in this guide.

2. Can I use Subversion with Git?

Yes, you can use Subversion with Git by using a Subversion remote repository. However, this may require additional configurations and setup.

3. Can I use Subversion for personal projects?

Yes, Subversion is an excellent option for personal projects, especially if you’re working alone or with a small team.

4. Do I need to use Apache with Subversion?

No, you can use other web servers or standalone Subversion servers. However, Apache is the most popular and widely used web server with Subversion.

5. Can I move my SVN repository to a different server?

Yes, you can move your SVN repository to a different server by creating a backup of your repository and transferring it to the new server.

6. Can multiple repositories be created in SVN?

Yes, multiple repositories can be created in SVN by creating a new repository directory for each repository.

7. Can I use Subversion with Bitbucket or GitHub?

No, Bitbucket and GitHub use Git as their version control system and are not compatible with Subversion.

8. Can I access SVN over HTTPS?

Yes, you can access SVN over HTTPS by configuring Apache with SSL and using a valid SSL certificate.

9. How do I rollback changes in Subversion?

You can rollback changes in Subversion by using the svn merge -r command.

10. Can I use Subversion with Continuous Integration (CI) tools?

Yes, Subversion is fully compatible with CI tools such as Jenkins and Travis CI.

11. How do I create branches in Subversion?

You can create branches in Subversion by using the svn copy command.

12. Can I use Subversion for non-code files?

Yes, Subversion can be used for managing non-code files such as documentation and design assets.

13. Can I use Subversion with multiple operating systems?

Yes, Subversion is cross-platform and can be used with multiple operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed Subversion Server on Debian and created your first repository. With SVN, you can now easily manage code changes, track revisions, and collaborate with team members on your projects.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need further assistance. Happy coding!

Closing Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. We do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided. Use this information at your own risk.

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