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Subversion & TortoiseSVN: Installed and started on Windows 2003 server and local machines

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30 Jul 2009CPOL17 min read 238.4K   149   43
An article on installing and implementing Subversion version control software and TortoiseSVN the client interface tool for Windows machines.


In this article I will walk through the process of installing Subversion and getting started using this very useful version control tool. I chose Subversion based on its ease of use and understanding, the documentation provided is very easy to understand and navigate through, also you can't beat the cost - FREE.

I've laid out this article in a step by step method using the practices that I feel give the best results for my situation, there are always ways to customize this process and I will mention some of these as the steps progress.


To clarify some terminology -

  • When I mention 'Explorer' or 'explorer' I'm referring to the Windows file manager.
  • Subversion will be referred to as SVN
  • TortoiseSVN will be referred to as TSVN

    Some of the pictures in this article have been resized.

    I've written this article with the beginner in mind, some of the steps and images may seem redundant and unnecessary but I included them so that there would be as little confusion as possible.

    The names and aliases used in this article can and probably should be changed to meet your needs.

    *There is a One-Step process that installs SVN, TSVN, sets up the service, downloads the documentation, and creates the first repository - I didn't take this route because I wanted a little more control and understanding of what I was putting on my machines.

    Quick Reference Links

    Now to Business

    I. The first thing I recommend is getting yourself a copy of the most recent Subversion Manual. This will be good for future reference when you want to get more involved with the finer points. http:\\\, I recommend the .pdf version as this will allow you to save a copy to your desktop, you can also download a one page HTML of the same documentation.

    II. Once you have a copy of the manual on your local desktop it's time to get started with the install. RDC (Remote Desktop Connect) to the server, or log into the server directly and navigate out to the SVN download page http:\\\servlets\ProjectDocumentList?folderID=91

    a. From this site select the most recent version of the SVN .exe installer for Windows (svn-1.4.2-setup.exe at the time of this article)

    Image 1

    III. Run the .exe on the server

    Image 2

    a. Follow the prompts to install SVN on the server

    Image 3

    b. Accept the license agreement

    c. Select the destination of SVN on the server:

    Image 4

    d. Accept the Start menu shortcut 'Subversion'

    Image 5

    e. Allow the documentation links to be posted to the server

    Image 6

    *Note – At the time of this article the documentation that is posted is from SVN version 1.3, but most of the data presented is current with the exceptions of the latest additions. The documentation is still good for use as a reference.

    f. Click 'Install' -> 'Next' -> Finish, and you've just installed SVN to the server. Easy, huh?

    IV. The next step in the installation process will set up the log editor for SVN

    a. Click Start -> select the Control Panel -> System

    b. Select the 'Advanced' tab -> Environment Variables

    Image 7

    c. Click 'New' under System Variables

    Image 8

    d. Set the variable name to SVN_EDITOR

    e. Set the Variable Value to C:\Windows\notepad.exe

    Image 9

    i. This is the default text editor for logs in SVN

    f. Click 'OK' out of the menus

    V. Setting up SVN as a service on the server

    a. First download the .zip file that contains the needed files – http:\\\~bsuter\subversion-setup-guide\

    Image 10

    b. Open the zip file and select the file SVNService.exe

    Image 11

    i.Click Edit -> Move to Folder -> Browse to C:\Program Files\Subversion\bin

    Image 12
    Image 13

    **It's absolutely critical that this file be place here as it needs svnserve.exe to run properly. The other files are not needed for the service to run but you can extract them to the bin file as well for a reference.

    c. Open a Command Window

    d. Enter 'svnservice –install –daemon - - root "d:\AppRepositories

    Image 14

    i. This sets the service to run in the background (daemon) and sets the root directory to the file that holds the repositories (d:\AppRepositories).

    e. SVN is now set up as a service

    Image 15

    f. Now that SVN is set up as a service on the server you can access it programmatically from the command line and later the TSVN interface using the following format - svn://(ServerName)/(RepositoryName)/ProjectSource/trunk

    **Notice that the actual drive (D:/) as well as the folder holding the repositories (AppRepositories) are missing from the command, this is now using the 'root' that was specified in the service creation command.

    g. Now to further configure the service go to Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services

    Image 16

    h. Navigate down to SVNService and double click the service. Change 'Startup type:' from manual to Automatic

    Image 17
    Image 18

    i. Now SVN will start every time the server boots up.

    j. Back in the services screen, click 'Start' in the upper left of the right pane OR click the 'play' icon in the menu tool bar to start the service

    Image 19

    k. Close the window and you've implemented SVN as a service.

    VI. Uninstall the SVN service

    a. Open a Command Window

    b. Enter 'svnservice –remove'

    Image 20

    c. This command will both stop and remove the service from the directory

    VII. Creating a repository using the SVN command line

    a. First thing, open a command prompt window

    b. Next create a folder on the D: drive to house all the repositories

    i. 'mkdir d:\AppRepositories'

    Image 21

    c. Within this folder place all project repositories.
    **It is possible to place several projects within the same repository but I would not recommend this as there is a chance to get some of the code mixed or replaced inadvertently. It might be beneficial to do this if the repositories that will be grouped are similar in style or use the same resources.

    d. Also create a folder within the AppRepositories directory named 'config'. This folder will hold the shared passwd file for all subsequent repositories. **This step is not necessary but it makes manageability much easier.

    i. 'mkdir d:\AppRepositories\config'

    Image 22

    ii. **We'll put the passwd file into this new folder a few steps down the road, when we set up the repositories' configuration.

    e. Now create the first repository, I recommend using the same name for the project as the repository name.

    i. 'svnadmin create d:\AppRepositories\((ProjectName))'

    Image 23

    f. Once the repository has been created we'll need to create another folder within the repository itself to hold the working directory of the project. I've added the subsequent folders for my own benefit as I feel that this method makes it easier to understand.

    i. 'svn mkdir file:\\\d:\AppRepositories\((ProjectName))\ProjectSource'

    Image 24

    ii. This subfolder is needed to house the trunk, branches, and tags folders that actually hold the working code. The main repository ((ProjectName)) will still handle the versioning of the project. This folder and those created in the next few steps will need to be created for all repositories.

    iii. The trunk folder is where you will store the source code, or working code. The tags folder is used to hold 'snapshots' of the project, i.e. to present version 1.0.22. The branches folder is used to hold the branches of the project, basically the same code but with different functionality, i.e. taking the application in a new direction.

    g. Upon creation of the 'ProjectSource' folder a log file will appear in notepad

    Image 25

    **On the top line above the '- -' enclosed line enter a description of the action, i.e. 'Initial creation of the projectsource folder to hold trunk, branches, and tags source folders.'

    h. Click File -> Save -> close notepad

    i. Once the log has been saved and closed the command prompt will display 'Committed revision 1'. Each subsequent change made will be a revision to the repository.

    Image 26

    j. Now create the trunk, branches, and tags folders

    i. 'svn mkdir file:\\\d:\AppRepositories\((ProjectName))\ProjectSource\trunk'

    Image 27
    Image 28

    **On the top line of the log file above the '- -' enclosed line enter a description of the action, i.e. 'Initial creation of the trunk folder.'

    Image 29

    ii. This is revision 2

    iii. 'svn mkdir file:\\\d:\AppRepositories\((ProjectName))\ProjectSource\branches'

    Image 30
    Image 31

    **On the top line of the log file above the '- -' enclosed line enter a description of the action, i.e. 'Initial creation of the branches folder.'

    Image 32

    iv. This is revision 3

    v. 'svn mkdir file:\\\d:\AppRepositories\((ProjectName))\ProjectSource\tags'

    Image 33
    Image 34

    **On the top line of the log file above the '- -' enclosed line enter a description of the action, i.e. 'Initial creation of the tags folder.'

    Image 35

    vi. This is revision 4

    k. All the necessary folders are now created and in place. The next step is to configure access to the repository. **This step can also be done right after creating the repository

    l. Open an explorer window and browse to D:\AppRepository\((ProjectName))\conf

    **Note: you will not see the files just added in the explorer window (ProjectSource, trunk, branches, tags) but not to worry they are there but stored in the repository at their respective revisions and still available for access.

    Image 36

    m. With the conf file open make a copy of the passwd file and paste it into the config file of AppRepositories that we created earlier.

    i. **This step is not necessary, each repository can have its own list of users with their passwords. If you elect to use this method skip to step r.

    Image 37
    Image 38

    n. Open the svnserve.conf file.

    **If prompted to select which application to view this document in, choose notepad.

    o. Under the [general] section, uncomment the auth-access, anon-access, and password-db lines.

    i. Delete the '#' symbols, be sure to leave no spaces on the line before the start of the text.

    Image 39

    p. Set password-db = '..\..\config\passwd'. This will set the authentication path to the shared passwd file.

    q. Click File-> Save -> close the window

    r. Now, open the passwd file in the config folder. **When prompted select notepad as the application to use to view the file.

    s. Under the [users] section delete the sample users

    t. Enter the users that will have access to this repository in the form of username = userpassword. **again make sure that there are no spaces before the first character of text.

    Image 40

    i. This will be the only time other than adding new users that you will need to modify the \config\passwd file. Unless of course you're modifying the passwd file for each repository.

    u. Click File -> Save -> close the window.

    VIII. Create a repository using TSVN on the server

    a. TSVN is not necessary at the server level as it is pretty much an end user tool but for the sake of completeness I'm including it here. I personally feel that creating repositories with TSVN is easier than using the command lines.

    b. First go to http:\\\downloads

    c. Download the latest version of TSVN to the server ( at the time of this article)

    d. Run the 32-bit installer or 64-bit if this is how your server is configured.

    Image 41

    e. Accept the license agreement -> Click Next

    f. Accept the default icon tree and location of TSVN -> Click Next

    Image 42

    g. Click Install

    h. When finished installing unselect the 'View Change Log' and click Finish.

    Image 43

    i. TSVN requires the system to reboot, close all windows and then select 'Yes' to reboot now

    Image 44

    i. Once the system has successfully rebooted, RDC back into the server or reconnect into the system and open an explorer window.

    j. Navigate out to the D:\ drive and right-click in the right pane of the window and create a new folder that will house all the repositories. Name the folder 'AppRepositories'.

    Image 45

    k. Open the folder and repeat the folder creation process, this time name the folder the same as the project you intend to version. i.e. 'BrushLog'. Also create a folder with the name 'config', that will hold the shared passwd file.

    Image 46

    l. Right-Click on the project folder and roll down to TortoiseSVN> -> and click 'Create repository Here'

    Image 47

    m. In the first prompt window select 'NativeFileSystem(FSFS)

    Image 48

    i. **I highly recommend using this system for its flexibility and compatibility

    n. Click OK, and the repository is now created.

    Image 49

    o. Next create the working directory folder by opening the repository folder and right-clicking the right pane of the window and create a new folder that will house trunk, branches, and tags folders. Name the folder 'ProjectSource'.

    Image 50

    p. Open the ProjectSource folder and in the right window create three new folders named: trunk, branches, and tags.

    Image 51

    q. Open the svnserve.conf file. **If prompted to select which application to view this document in, choose notepad.

    Image 52

    r. Under the [general] section, uncomment the auth-access, anon-access, and password-db lines.

    i. Delete the '#' symbols, be sure to leave no spaces on the line before the start of the text.

    Image 53

    s. Set password-db = '..\..\config\passwd'. This will set the authentication path to the universal passwd file.

    t. Click File-> Save -> close the window

    u. Now we will need to configure the authentication for the repositories. Open the conf folder in the repository you just created and copy the passwd file to the config folder under the AppRepositories directory.

    Image 54
    Image 55

    v. Open the passwd file, when prompted select notepad as the application used to view the file.

    Image 56

    w. Under the [users] section delete the sample users. Be sure to leave no spaces between the text and the start of the line. Enter the name and password for the users that will have access to the repositories in the form of username = userpassword.

    Image 57

    i. This is the only time that you will need to change this file with the exception of adding new users. Unless you've elected to use separate passwd files for all repositories.

    x. The process of creating a repository is now completed using TSVN, note also that in using this method no revisions were completed while adding the files. Also the files are visible within the explorer window.

    IX. Install TSVN on client machines

    a. First go to http:\\\downloads

    b. Download the latest version of TSVN to the computer ( at the time of this article)

    c. Run the 32-bit installer or 64-bit depending on the machine

    Image 58

    d. Accept the license agreement -> Click Next

    e. Accept the default icon tree and location of TSVN -> Click Next

    Image 59

    f. Click Install

    g. When finished installing unselect the 'View Change Log' and click Finish

    Image 60

    i. TSVN requires the system to reboot, close all windows and then select 'Yes' to reboot now

    Image 61

    X. Loading source code to a repository using TSVN

    **Note: Before going on be sure you've completed section IX, a repository must be in place to import

    a. Open an explorer window and browse to the folder containing the source code

    Image 62

    b. Right-click the folder -> TortoiseSVN> -> Import

    i. When using TSVN import(to the server) in this case means the same as export(from the client). This confused me in the beginning.

    Image 63

    c. Enter 'svn:\\(servername)\(NameOfRepository)\ProjectSource\trunk' into the Url of repository. You can add a description of the import action in the Import Message window, i.e. Initial import of the (ApplicatioName) source code.

    Image 64

    d. At the prompt enter the username and password entered into the passwd file from the repository conf file. This only needs to be done once per session, SVN and TSVN will remember the entries for the duration of the session. Unless you've used separate passwd files, then you'll have to repeat this for each new repository.

    Image 65

    e. Click OK and all the files are loaded into the repository and committed at the next revision number (revision 1(TSVN) or 5(SVN command line) depending on the method used to create the repository)

    Image 66

    **Note: The total number of files imported is also displayed at the bottom of the window.

    XI. Creating a local working directory from a repository

    a. Open a windows explorer and browse to the C:\ drive, right-click the right pane and create a new folder. Name the folder SVN.

    b. Open the SVN folder, right-click in the right pane and create a new folder with the same name as your repository

    Image 67

    c. Right-click the new folder -> SVN Checkout

    Image 68

    d. In the 'Url of repository' enter 'svn:\\(ServerName)\(RepositoryName)\ProjectSource\trunk'

    Image 69

    **Note: In the bottom section of the window it is possible to specify a previous revision of the project by specifying a revision number. The default is the latest committed version.

    e. Click OK

    f. This adds all the source code at the current(most recent) revision. The window shows the total number of files added to your directory (Added: ##) and the revision number.

    Image 70
    Image 71

    **Note: Every file in this folder has a green check icon on it, this means that this file appears as is from the repository. This icon will change if the file is modified to a red '!' and will remain thus until the file is committed back to the repository on the server.

    g. You've now got a working copy of the source code that you can modify, change, or reinvent at your leisure with no worries about 'accidentally' losing everything.

    XII. Committing changes back to the repository

    a. When you're ready to save your changes back to the repository browse out to the working directory and right click the folder -> SVNCommit

    Image 72

    **Notice that all the changed files are marked with a red '!', this is just TSVN's way of letting you know you've done some work.

    b. TSVN allows you to select which file you'd like to commit back into the repository, either a single control, many code pages, or the entire working code.

  • You can commit any files you choose (not always all of them), but when you commit the files you selected, they are all committed or not at all (When an error occurs for example). *(SDragon42, 3/23/07)*

    i. If you are working on a project as part of a team and other members have checked out and checked back in code before you complete yours and your code is not compatible TSVN will display an error. At this point I recommend right-clicking the folder -> TSVN -> Check-for-Modifications. For more on the capabilities of TSVN see the manual.

  • **Simply checking for changes made to the files is not sufficient to have a compatible working compilation, an Update is required on the working copy to get the latest code from the repository. *(SteveKing, 3/23/07)*

    **Note: A cool feature of TSVN is that when you're ready to commit the changes back to the repository all the files that are being sent appear in the lower part of the commit window, and by double-clicking a particular file you can see what exactly was changed between revisions.

    ii. Click OK

    Image 73

    iii. Enter your username and password from the passwd file

    Image 74

    iv. All the changed files are now updated in the repository and loaded into the next revision. The revision number is displayed in the window. Each revision holds all the files for each project; the difference is what is displayed below.

    Image 75


    Up to this point you have come far enough to use the basic functionality of SVN with TSVN. Of course there is lots more that can be done with SVN and maybe I'll cover that in a later article, but until then everything is in the documentation that you've downloaded.

    Getting the ball rolling is the hardest part of using SVN, once you start incorporating it into your development cycle you'll realize just how easy and beneficial these tools are.

  • Credit where Credit is due

    This article would not be what it is without some help and guidance from some who are more experienced and knowledgeable than myself. First let me thank the CP community for being the supportive and encouraging place that it is for programmers. Second I have a couple shout outs to two individuals that helped me to get not only this article off the ground by providing very poignant research direction but also to complete the work that led to the article in the first place.

    • Hans Dietrich - for providing very well written articles and suggestions
    • code-frog - for getting me started in the right direction


    Initial article submission - version 1.0

  • Errors in text changed - version 1.1

  • Grievous lack of acknowledgement taken care of - version 1.2

  • License

    This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

    Written By
    Database Developer Aristocrat Technologies Inc.
    United States United States
    This member has not yet provided a Biography. Assume it's interesting and varied, and probably something to do with programming.

    Comments and Discussions

    GeneralSVNIsapi Pin
    damian98now12-Jan-10 1:00
    damian98now12-Jan-10 1:00 
    QuestionVisualSVN? Pin
    ChrisHill200630-Jul-09 22:11
    ChrisHill200630-Jul-09 22:11 
    Generalsvn mkdir error Pin
    Alexander Higgins8-May-09 14:18
    Alexander Higgins8-May-09 14:18 
    QuestionHow to configure the TSVN Repository to Cruise Control Pin
    gurumoorthy p18-Aug-08 22:17
    gurumoorthy p18-Aug-08 22:17 
    Questionerror Pin
    suryaAS13-Aug-08 19:28
    suryaAS13-Aug-08 19:28 
    GeneralItem j Pin
    aikipoodle9-Apr-08 12:19
    aikipoodle9-Apr-08 12:19 
    GeneralRe: Item j Pin
    Chris McGlothen10-Apr-08 3:20
    Chris McGlothen10-Apr-08 3:20 
    GeneralRe: Item j Pin
    aikipoodle17-Apr-08 17:37
    aikipoodle17-Apr-08 17:37 
    GeneralGreat article Pin
    Ralph Willgoss13-Feb-08 1:17
    Ralph Willgoss13-Feb-08 1:17 
    GeneralRe: Great article Pin
    Chris McGlothen13-Feb-08 5:42
    Chris McGlothen13-Feb-08 5:42 
    NewsMake sure your virusscanner is not infering with the repository Pin
    ptmcomp5-Jun-07 9:19
    ptmcomp5-Jun-07 9:19 
    GeneralRe: Make sure your virusscanner is not infering with the repository Pin
    Chris McGlothen5-Jun-07 10:23
    Chris McGlothen5-Jun-07 10:23 
    Generala separate download of svnservice is not needed any more Pin
    rockonedge4-Jun-07 15:33
    rockonedge4-Jun-07 15:33 
    GeneralRe: a separate download of svnservice is not needed any more Pin
    Chris McGlothen5-Jun-07 5:16
    Chris McGlothen5-Jun-07 5:16 
    GeneralFirewall issue Pin
    chrisv27-Mar-07 12:26
    chrisv27-Mar-07 12:26 
    GeneralRe: Firewall issue Pin
    ptmcomp5-Jun-07 9:10
    ptmcomp5-Jun-07 9:10 
    GeneralTortoiseSVN, IIS 6 and VS2003 Pin
    Alexander Turlov27-Mar-07 5:16
    Alexander Turlov27-Mar-07 5:16 
    GeneralRe: TortoiseSVN, IIS 6 and VS2003 Pin
    Chris McGlothen28-Mar-07 9:57
    Chris McGlothen28-Mar-07 9:57 
    QuestionTSVN repository creation Pin
    CarlG26-Mar-07 21:54
    CarlG26-Mar-07 21:54 
    AnswerRe: TSVN repository creation Pin
    Chris McGlothen28-Mar-07 10:02
    Chris McGlothen28-Mar-07 10:02 
    GeneralRe: TSVN repository creation Pin
    Abo Yahya24-Jul-08 2:01
    Abo Yahya24-Jul-08 2:01 
    GeneralVisual Source Safe 2005 Pin
    Ken Hadden26-Mar-07 14:07
    Ken Hadden26-Mar-07 14:07 
    GeneralRe: Visual Source Safe 2005 Pin
    pboninsk27-Mar-07 6:30
    pboninsk27-Mar-07 6:30 
    GeneralAutsch Pin
    SteveKing22-Mar-07 20:57
    SteveKing22-Mar-07 20:57 
    GeneralRe: Autsch Pin
    Chris McGlothen23-Mar-07 4:17
    Chris McGlothen23-Mar-07 4:17 

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