When a commit fails due to someone else's locks, it's fairly easy to learn about them. The easiest of these is svn status --show-updates:
$ svn status -u M 23 bar.c M O 32 raisin.jpg * 72 foo.h Status against revision: 105 $
In this example, Sally can see not only that her copy of
foo.h is out of date, but that one of the
two modified files she plans to commit is locked in the
O symbol stands for
“Other,” meaning that a lock exists on the file
and was created by somebody else. If she were to attempt a
commit, the lock on
prevent it. Sally is left wondering who made the lock, when,
and why. Once again, svn info has the
$ svn info http://svn.example.com/repos/project/raisin.jpg Path: raisin.jpg Name: raisin.jpg URL: http://svn.example.com/repos/project/raisin.jpg Repository UUID: edb2f264-5ef2-0310-a47a-87b0ce17a8ec Revision: 105 Node Kind: file Last Changed Author: sally Last Changed Rev: 32 Last Changed Date: 2006-01-25 12:43:04 -0600 (Sun, 25 Jan 2006) Lock Token: opaquelocktoken:fc2b4dee-98f9-0310-abf3-653ff3226e6b Lock Owner: harry Lock Created: 2006-02-16 13:29:18 -0500 (Thu, 16 Feb 2006) Lock Comment (1 line): Need to make a quick tweak to this image. $
Just as svn info can be used to examine objects in the working copy, it can also be used to examine objects in the repository. If the main argument to svn info is a working copy path, then all of the working copy's cached information is displayed; any mention of a lock means that the working copy is holding a lock token (if a file is locked by another user or in another working copy, svn info on a working copy path will show no lock information at all). If the main argument to svn info is a URL, then the information reflects the latest version of an object in the repository, and any mention of a lock describes the current lock on the object.
So in this particular example, Sally can see that Harry locked the file on February 16th to “make a quick tweak.” It being June, she suspects that he probably forgot all about the lock. She might phone Harry to complain and ask him to release the lock. If he's unavailable, she might try to forcibly break the lock herself or ask an administrator to do so.