Basic Apache Configuration

Once you have all the necessary components installed on your system, all that remains is the configuration of Apache via its httpd.conf file. Instruct Apache to load the mod_dav_svn module using the LoadModule directive. This directive must precede any other Subversion-related configuration items. If your Apache was installed using the default layout, your mod_dav_svn module should have been installed in the modules subdirectory of the Apache install location (often /usr/local/apache2). The LoadModule directive has a simple syntax, mapping a named module to the location of a shared library on disk:

LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/

Note that if mod_dav was compiled as a shared object (instead of statically linked directly to the httpd binary), you'll need a similar LoadModule statement for it, too. Be sure that it comes before the mod_dav_svn line:

LoadModule dav_module         modules/
LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/

At a later location in your configuration file, you now need to tell Apache where you keep your Subversion repository (or repositories). The Location directive has an XML-like notation, starting with an opening tag, and ending with a closing tag, with various other configuration directives in the middle. The purpose of the Location directive is to instruct Apache to do something special when handling requests that are directed at a given URL or one of its children. In the case of Subversion, you want Apache to simply hand off support for URLs that point at versioned resources to the DAV layer. You can instruct Apache to delegate the handling of all URLs whose path portions (the part of the URL that follows the server's name and the optional port number) begin with /repos/ to a DAV provider whose repository is located at /var/svn/repository using the following httpd.conf syntax:

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNPath /var/svn/repository

If you plan to support multiple Subversion repositories that will reside in the same parent directory on your local disk, you can use an alternative directive, the SVNParentPath directive, to indicate that common parent directory. For example, if you know you will be creating multiple Subversion repositories in a directory /var/svn that would be accessed via URLs like,, and so on, you could use the httpd.conf configuration syntax in the following example:

<Location /svn>
  DAV svn

  # any "/svn/foo" URL will map to a repository /var/svn/foo
  SVNParentPath /var/svn

Using the previous syntax, Apache will delegate the handling of all URLs whose path portions begin with /svn/ to the Subversion DAV provider, which will then assume that any items in the directory specified by the SVNParentPath directive are actually Subversion repositories. This is a particularly convenient syntax in that, unlike the use of the SVNPath directive, you don't have to restart Apache in order to create and network new repositories.

Be sure that when you define your new Location, it doesn't overlap with other exported Locations. For example, if your main DocumentRoot is exported to /www, do not export a Subversion repository in <Location /www/repos>. If a request comes in for the URI /www/repos/foo.c, Apache won't know whether to look for a file repos/foo.c in the DocumentRoot, or whether to delegate mod_dav_svn to return foo.c from the Subversion repository. The result is often an error from the server of the form 301 Moved Permanently.

At this stage, you should strongly consider the question of permissions. If you've been running Apache for some time now as your regular web server, you probably already have a collection of content—web pages, scripts and such. These items have already been configured with a set of permissions that allows them to work with Apache, or more appropriately, that allows Apache to work with those files. Apache, when used as a Subversion server, will also need the correct permissions to read and write to your Subversion repository.

You will need to determine a permission system setup that satisfies Subversion's requirements without messing up any previously existing web page or script installations. This might mean changing the permissions on your Subversion repository to match those in use by other things that Apache serves for you, or it could mean using the User and Group directives in httpd.conf to specify that Apache should run as the user and group that owns your Subversion repository. There is no single correct way to set up your permissions, and each administrator will have different reasons for doing things a certain way. Just be aware that permission-related problems are perhaps the most common oversight when configuring a Subversion repository for use with Apache.