The servers file contains Subversion configuration options related to the network layers. There are two special section names in this file—groups and global. The groups section is essentially a cross-reference table. The keys in this section are the names of other sections in the file; their values are globs—textual tokens which possibly contain wildcard characters—that are compared against the hostnames of the machine to which Subversion requests are sent.

beanie-babies = *
collabnet =



When Subversion is used over a network, it attempts to match the name of the server it is trying to reach with a group name under the groups section. If a match is made, Subversion then looks for a section in the servers file whose name is the matched group's name. From that section it reads the actual network configuration settings.

The global section contains the settings that are meant for all of the servers not matched by one of the globs under the groups section. The options available in this section are exactly the same as those valid for the other server sections in the file (except, of course, the special groups section), and are as follows:


This specifies a comma-separated list of patterns for repository hostnames that should accessed directly, without using the proxy machine. The pattern syntax is the same as is used in the Unix shell for filenames. A repository hostname matching any of these patterns will not be proxied.


This specifies the hostname of the proxy computer through which your HTTP-based Subversion requests must pass. It defaults to an empty value, which means that Subversion will not attempt to route HTTP requests through a proxy computer, and will instead attempt to contact the destination machine directly.


This specifies the port number on the proxy host to use. It defaults to an empty value.


This specifies the username to supply to the proxy machine. It defaults to an empty value.


This specifies the password to supply to the proxy machine. It defaults to an empty value.


This specifies the amount of time, in seconds, to wait for a server response. If you experience problems with a slow network connection causing Subversion operations to time out, you should increase the value of this option. The default value is 0, which instructs the underlying HTTP library, Neon, to use its default timeout setting.


This specifies whether or not Subversion should attempt to compress network requests made to DAV-ready servers. The default value is yes (though compression will only occur if that capability is compiled into the network layer). Set this to no to disable compression, such as when debugging network transmissions.


Subversion provides a pair of repository access modules which understand its WebDAV network protocol. The original one which shipped with Subversion 1.0 is libsvn_ra_neon (though back then it was called libsvn_ra_dav). Newer Subversion versions also provide libsvn_ra_serf, which uses a different underlying implementation and aims to support some of the newer HTTP concepts.

At this point, libsvn_ra_serf is still considered experimental, though it appears to work in the common cases quite well. To encourage experimentation, Subversion provides the http-library runtime configuration option to allow users to specify (generally, or in a per-server-group fashion) which WebDAV access module they'd prefer to use—neon or serf.


This option is a semicolon-delimited list of authentication types supported by the Neon-based WebDAV repository access modules. Valid members of this list are basic, digest, and negotiate.


This is an integer mask that the underlying HTTP library, Neon, uses for choosing what type of debugging output to yield. The default value is 0, which will silence all debugging output. For more information about how Subversion makes use of Neon, see Chapter 8, Embedding Subversion.


This is a semicolon-delimited list of paths to files containing certificates of the certificate authorities (or CAs) that are accepted by the Subversion client when accessing the repository over HTTPS.


Set this variable to yes if you want Subversion to automatically trust the set of default CAs that ship with OpenSSL.


If a host (or set of hosts) requires an SSL client certificate, you'll normally be prompted for a path to your certificate. By setting this variable to that same path, Subversion will be able to find your client certificate automatically without prompting you. There's no standard place to store your certificate on disk; Subversion will grab it from any path you specify.


If your SSL client certificate file is encrypted by a passphrase, Subversion will prompt you for the passphrase whenever the certificate is used. If you find this annoying (and don't mind storing the password in the servers file), then you can set this variable to the certificate's passphrase. You won't be prompted anymore.