Per-Directory Access Control

It's possible to set up finer-grained permissions using a second Apache httpd module, mod_authz_svn. This module grabs the various opaque URLs passing from client to server, asks mod_dav_svn to decode them, and then possibly vetoes requests based on access policies defined in a configuration file.

If you've built Subversion from source code, mod_authz_svn is automatically built and installed alongside mod_dav_svn. Many binary distributions install it automatically as well. To verify that it's installed correctly, make sure it comes right after mod_dav_svn's LoadModule directive in httpd.conf:

LoadModule dav_module         modules/mod_dav.so
LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/mod_dav_svn.so
LoadModule authz_svn_module   modules/mod_authz_svn.so

To activate this module, you need to configure your Location block to use the AuthzSVNAccessFile directive, which specifies a file containing the permissions policy for paths within your repositories. (In a moment, we'll discuss the format of that file.)

Apache is flexible, so you have the option to configure your block in one of three general patterns. To begin, choose one of these basic configuration patterns. (The examples below are very simple; look at Apache's own documentation for much more detail on Apache authentication and authorization options.)

The simplest block is to allow open access to everyone. In this scenario, Apache never sends authentication challenges, so all users are treated as “anonymous”.

Example 6.1. A sample configuration for anonymous access.

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNParentPath /var/svn

  # our access control policy
  AuthzSVNAccessFile /path/to/access/file
</Location>
          

On the opposite end of the paranoia scale, you can configure your block to demand authentication from everyone. All clients must supply credentials to identify themselves. Your block unconditionally requires authentication via the Require valid-user directive, and defines a means to authenticate.

Example 6.2. A sample configuration for authenticated access.

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNParentPath /var/svn

  # our access control policy
  AuthzSVNAccessFile /path/to/access/file

  # only authenticated users may access the repository
  Require valid-user

  # how to authenticate a user
  AuthType Basic
  AuthName "Subversion repository"
  AuthUserFile /path/to/users/file
</Location>
          

A third very popular pattern is to allow a combination of authenticated and anonymous access. For example, many administrators want to allow anonymous users to read certain repository directories, but want only authenticated users to read (or write) more sensitive areas. In this setup, all users start out accessing the repository anonymously. If your access control policy demands a real username at any point, Apache will demand authentication from the client. To do this, you use both the Satisfy Any and Require valid-user directives together.

Example 6.3. A sample configuration for mixed authenticated/anonymous access.

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNParentPath /var/svn

  # our access control policy
  AuthzSVNAccessFile /path/to/access/file

  # try anonymous access first, resort to real
  # authentication if necessary.
  Satisfy Any
  Require valid-user

  # how to authenticate a user
  AuthType Basic
  AuthName "Subversion repository"
  AuthUserFile /path/to/users/file
</Location>
          

Once you've settled on one of these three basic httpd.conf templates, you need to create your file containing access rules for particular paths within the repository. This is described in the section called “Path-Based Authorization”.