svnserve via inetd

If you want inetd to launch the process, then you need to pass the -i (--inetd) option. In the example, we've shown the output from running svnserve -i at the command line, but note that isn't how you actually start the daemon; see the paragraphs following the example for how to configure inetd to start svnserve.

$ svnserve -i
( success ( 1 2 ( ANONYMOUS ) ( edit-pipeline ) ) )

When invoked with the --inetd option, svnserve attempts to speak with a Subversion client via stdin and stdout using a custom protocol. This is the standard behavior for a program being run via inetd. The IANA has reserved port 3690 for the Subversion protocol, so on a Unix-like system you can add lines to /etc/services like these (if they don't already exist):

svn           3690/tcp   # Subversion
svn           3690/udp   # Subversion

And if your system is using a classic Unix-like inetd daemon, you can add this line to /etc/inetd.conf:

svn stream tcp nowait svnowner /usr/bin/svnserve svnserve -i

Make sure “svnowner” is a user which has appropriate permissions to access your repositories. Now, when a client connection comes into your server on port 3690, inetd will spawn an svnserve process to service it. Of course, you may also want to add -r to the configuration line as well, to restrict which repositories are exported.