Managing Repository UUIDs

Subversion repositories have a universally unique identifier (UUID) associated with them. This is used by Subversion clients to verify the identity of a repository when other forms of verification aren't good enough (such as checking the repository URL, which can change over time). Most Subversion repository administrators rarely, if ever, need to think about repository UUIDs as anything more than a trivial implementation detail of Subversion. Sometimes, however, there is cause for attention to this detail.

As a general rule, you want the UUIDs of your live repositories to be unique. That is, after all, the point of having UUIDs. But there are times when you want the repository UUIDs of two repositories to be exactly the same. For example, if you make a copy of a repository for backup purposes, you want the backup to be a perfect replica of the original so that, in the event that you have to restore that backup and replace the live repository, users don't suddenly see what looks like a different repository. When dumping and loading repository history (as described in the section called “Migrating Repository Data Elsewhere”), you get to decide whether or not to apply the UUID encapsulated in the data dump stream to the repository you are loading the data into. The particular circumstance will dictate the correct behavior.

There are a couple of ways to set (or reset) a repository's UUID, should you need to. As of Subversion 1.5, this is as simple as using the svnadmin setuuid command. If you provide this subcommand with an explicit UUID, it will validate that the UUID is well-formed and then set the repository UUID to that value. If you omit the UUID, a brand new UUID will be generated for your repository.

$ svnlook uuid /var/svn/repos
cf2b9d22-acb5-11dc-bc8c-05e83ce5dbec
$ svnadmin setuuid /var/svn/repos   # generate a new UUID
$ svnlook uuid /var/svn/repos
3c3c38fe-acc0-11dc-acbc-1b37ff1c8e7c
$ svnadmin setuuid /var/svn/repos \
           cf2b9d22-acb5-11dc-bc8c-05e83ce5dbec  # restore the old UUID
$ svnlook uuid /var/svn/repos
cf2b9d22-acb5-11dc-bc8c-05e83ce5dbec
$

For folks using versions of Subversion earlier than 1.5, these tasks are a little more complicated. You can set an explicit UUID on a repository by creating a stub repository dump file that carries that UUID specification, and then loading that into your repository with the --force-uuid option to svnadmin load.

$ cat - <<EOF | svnadmin load --force-uuid /var/snv/repos
SVN-fs-dump-format-version: 2

UUID: cf2b9d22-acb5-11dc-bc8c-05e83ce5dbec
EOF
$

Having older versions of Subversion generate a brand new UUID is not quite as simple to do, though. Your best bet here is to find some other way to generate a UUID, and then explicitly set the repository's UUID to that value.