Subversion Cheatsheet

Which version is installed?

geoff@morph$ svn --version --quiet

SVN Help

geoff@morph$ svn help
geoff@morph$ svn help import

Basic Work Cycle

# update your working copy
geoff@morph$ svn update    # CAUTION will update your local copy
geoff@morph$ svn status    # to get an overview of changes
geoff@morph$ svn status -v # to get an detailed view, includes version number

# make changes
geoff@morph$ svn add
geoff@morph$ svn delete
geoff@morph$ svn copy
geoff@morph$ svn move

# examine your changes
geoff@morph$ svn status
geoff@morph$ svn diff

# undo some changes
geoff@morph$ svn revert

# resolve conflicts
geoff@morph$ svn update
geoff@morph$ svn resolve

# commit your changes
geoff@morph$ svn commit
geoff@morph$ svn commit -m 'commital message' -a          # all changes
geoff@morph$ svn commit -m 'commital message' <filename>  # specific file

Undo svn add without reverting local edits

svm rm --keep-local <filename>
svn rm --keep-local .

Reversing a committed change

# make sure working copy is consistent with 173 commit
$ svn status -v <filename>
$ svn revert <filename>
$ svn merge --revision 173:122<filename>

Subversion version versus Unicode

By default, Subversion tends to regard UTF-16 files as binary. It assigns them a MIME type of application/octet-stream. As a result, when an attempt is made to merge a change from a branched version of the file, there is always a conflict that must be hand-edited.

However, there is a solution. By giving the UTF-16 files a correct MIME type, SVN is able to perform merges just like a basic text file.

The required MIME type is one of:


depending upon whether the encoding is LittleEndian or BigEndian respectively.

To set the property, use a command along the lines of:

$ svn propset "svn:mime-type" "text/plain;encoding=UTF-16LE" *.utf-16.txt

This works with the (command-line) SVN version 1.6+ clients on both Linux and Windows.

$ notepad <filename> # use 'save as' :-), Try 'ANSI' on Windows ;-)

Subversion Keywords

To aid with page layout there are 2 forms:

# Variable length (Case Sensitive)
$Date$            # [LastChangedDate] NOTE local time-zone
$Revision$        # [LastChangedRevision] last known revision (repository revision)
$Author$          # last known user to change the file
$HeadURL$         # full URL to the latest version of the file
$Id$              # like RCS/CVS "$Id: calc.c 148 2006-07-28 21:30:43Z sally $"

# Fixed length (Case Sensitive), <space> padded and '#' truncated
$Date::            $ # [LastChangedDate] NOTE local time-zone
$Revision::        $ # [LastChangedRevision] last known revision (repository revision)
$Author::          $ # last known user to change the file
$HeadURL::         $ # full URL to the latest version of the file
$Id::              $ # like RCS/CVS "$Id: calc.c 148 2006-07-28 21:30:43Z sally $"
$LastChangedDate:: $

Repository Creation

# - you need to checkout into a different location (like CVS)
geoff@morph$ svnadmin create /var/sv/newrepos
geoff@morph$ svn import myfile file:///var/svn/trunk/newrepos/some/project -m "initial import"
geoff@morph$ svn list file:///var/svn/trunk/newrepos/some/project
geoff@morph$ cd somedir; svn checkout file:///var/svn/newrepos/trunk/some/project

Repository Access Methods

geoff@morph$ svn checkout (WebDAV protocol)
geoff@morph$ svn checkout (SSL WebDAV protocol)
geoff@morph$ svn checkout file:///var/svn/repos (on local disk)
geoff@morph$ svn checkout file://localhost/var/svn/repos (on local disk)
c:\> svn checkout file:///X:/var/svn/repos (on local drive X)
c:\> svn checkout file:///X|/var/svn/repos (on local drive X)
geoff@morph$ svn checkout svn:// (svnserve port 3690)
geoff@morph$ svn checkout svn+ssh:// (svnserve + ssh tunnel port 22)

Status prefixes; snv status

# column 1 = files, column = 2 properties
geoff@morph$ svn status [$ svn status --verbose (-v) # for more details]
A item # scheduled for addition
C item # is in a state of conflict (updates blocked, until resolved)
D item # scheduled for deletion
M item # file contents modified
 M prop # property has been changed ($svn diff item # to see what)

History Commands

geoff@morph$ svn log  # log information
geoff@morph$ svn diff # line-level details
geoff@morph$ svn cat  # cat version in repository
geoff@morph$ svn list # display files in a directory

geoff@morph$ svn log foo.c                               # show log history of foo.c
geoff@morph$ svn log # show log history of foo.c
geoff@morph$ svn log -r 5:19                             # shows logs 5 thru 19 (chronological order)
geoff@morph$ svn log -r 19:5                             # shows logs 19 thru 5 (reversed order)
geoff@morph$ svn log -r 8 -v                             # shows verbose log for revision 8
geoff@morph$ svn log --quiet --verbose                   # show only changed files

Ignoring files and directories

geoff@morph$ svn propedit svn:ignore . # Opens an editor (SVN_EDITOR, EDITOR)
geoff@morph$ svn propget svn:ignore .  # So you can see the properties
geoff@morph$ svn status --no-ignore    # You should see an 'I' next to the ignored files
geoff@morph$ svn propdel svn:ignore .  # Delete the svn:ignore property

# For Maven project
geoff@morph$ svn propset svn:ignore '*' target # Ignore everything in target (cannot hide directory)
geoff@morph$ svn propget svn:ignore target     # List svn:ignore properties
geoff@morph$ svn status --no-ignore            # You should see an 'I' next to the ignored files

Revision Keywords / Dates

HEAD                        # latest revision in repository ("youngest")
BASE                        # revision number of item working copy
COMMITTED                   # most recent prior to, or equal to BASE
PREV                        # COMMITTED-1
{2006-02-17}                # version at 2006-02-16_00:00:00
{15:30}                     # version at 15:30
{"2006-02-17 15:30"}
{"2006-02-17 15:30 +2:30"}

Creating a Subversion release

# Should already exist
$ svn mkdir -m "Branches directory"
$ svn mkdir -m "Tags directory"

$ svn copy -m "Release branch 1.1.0" \

# Switch if work is needed on branch
$ svn switch

# Tag the release
$ svn copy -m "Release 1.1.0" \

# Switch back to the trunk
$ svn switch

Subversion Properties

# meta-data: key(ASCII) value (arbitrary value)
# "svn:" reserved subversion properties
# versioned like files, but not searchable, can be on files and/or directories
$ svn propset copyright '(c) 2006 Red-Bean Software' calc/foo.c
$ svn propedit copyright calc/foo.c # invoke editor (${SVN_EDITOR}, ${VISUAL}, ${EDITOR} + svn options)
$ svn proplist [-v] calc/foo.c
$ svn propdel copyright calc/foo.c

Subversion Unversioned Properties

# By default disabled (considered dangerous)
$ svn propset svn:log 'updated log message' -r11 -revprop
$ svn propset svn:log 'updated log message' -r11 -revprop
$ svnadmin setlog repos/project 'updates log message' -r 11

Automatic Property Setting

svn:executable (add/import) # no exectable bit on Windows
svn:mime-type  (add/import) # is it text or not!

Common Useful Properties

svn:eol-style native # CRLF/LF conversion; CRLF, LF, CR to force
svn:ignore "*.class file dir" # syntax like .cvsignore (does not support '!' reset)
$ svn propset svn:ignore -F .cvsignore . # equivqlent of .cvsignore file
$ svn status --no-ignore # to override "svn:ignore" flag
$ svn propset svn:keywords "Date Author" weather.txt # set on these two keywords
$ svn -v proplist weather.txt
    Date Author
$ svn proplist -v calc/button.c # list proprties of button.c
$ svn propdel license calc/button.c # delete license property
$ svn -v proplist src/
  Properties on 'src/':
    Date Author Revision HeadURL Id

Creating lock entries

# typically use on binary/image files, so no deltas
$ svn lock raisin.jpg             # lock file, other lock requests will fail
$ svn unlock raisin.jpg           # unlock file
$ svn status [-u|--show-updates]  # will list lock status (third/sixth columns)
$ svn lock --force raisin.jpg     # force/override lock
$ svn update                      # fetch locked copy
$ svnadmin lslocks /var/svn/repos

$ svn status [-u|--show-updates]  # will list lock status (third/sixth columns)
#  ' ' # file is not locked
#  K   # file is locked in this working copy
#  O   # file is locked by another user or directory
#  B   # file is locked but lock has been broken
#  T   # file is locked but lock has been stolen


# Works only local copy (not on repo)
$ svn changelist maths-fixes integer.c mathops.c
$ svn changelist --remove  button.c
$ svn diff --changelist math-fixes
$ svn ci -m "maths logic bug fix" --changelist maths-fixes

The svnserve startup script

For earlier Fedora versions that do not have systemd.

[root@wallace ~]# cat /etc/init.d/svnserve
#   /etc/rc.d/init.d/subversion
# Starts the Subversion Daemon
# chkconfig: 2345 90 10
# description: Subversion Daemon
# processname: svnserve
# pidfile: /var/lock/subsys/svnserve

source /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions

[ -x /usr/bin/svnserve ] || exit 1

### Default variables

### Read configuration
[ -r "$SYSCONFIG" ] && source "$SYSCONFIG"

desc="Subversion Daemon"

start() {
   echo -n $"Starting $desc ($prog): "
   daemon --user=$REPO_OWNER $prog -d -r $REPO_ROOT --pid-file $pidfile
   if [ $RETVAL -eq 0 ]; then
     touch /var/lock/subsys/$prog

obtainpid() {
   pidstr=`pgrep $prog`
   pidcount=`awk -v name="$pidstr" 'BEGIN{split(name,a," "); print length(a)}'`
   if [ ! -r "$pidfile" ] && [ $pidcount -ge 2 ]; then
        pid=`awk -v name="$pidstr" 'BEGIN{split(name,a," "); print a[1]}'`
        echo $prog is already running and it was not started by the init script.

stop() {
   echo -n $"Shutting down $desc ($prog): "
   if [ -r "$pidfile" ]; then
        pid=`cat $pidfile`
        kill -s 3 $pid
   [ $RETVAL -eq 0 ] && success || failure
   if [ $RETVAL -eq 0 ]; then
     rm -f /var/lock/subsys/$prog
     rm -f $pidfile
   return $RETVAL

restart() {

forcestop() {
   echo -n $"Shutting down $desc ($prog): "

   kill -s 3 $pid
   [ $RETVAL -eq 0 ] && success || failure
   if [ $RETVAL -eq 0 ]; then
     rm -f /var/lock/subsys/$prog
     rm -f $pidfile

   return $RETVAL

status() {
   if [ -r "$pidfile" ]; then
        pid=`cat $pidfile`
   if [ $pid ]; then
           echo "$prog (pid $pid) is running..."
        echo "$prog is stopped"


case "$1" in
   [ -e /var/lock/subsys/$prog ] && restart
   echo $"Usage: $0 {start|stop|forcestop|restart|condrestart|status}"

exit $RETVAL

The svnserve Configuration file

[root@wallace ~]# cat /etc/sysconfig/subversion