Subversion, Windows, and svn+ssh

In this article I further comment on my first steps in Subversion, while explaining how to overcome some auhorization problems that might confuse a lot of newbies, (myself included). More specifically I target the combination of svn+ssh and Windows, and give a solution (actually two).

Seeing that the RapidSVN, the program used in the backup tutorial mentioned in the previous article, handled the whole Subversion shebang smoothly on Ubuntu, I decided on also using it when making a repository on Windows. Of course Murphy couldn’t stay out of it…

Error while updating filelist (Can’t create tunnel: The system cannot find the file specified.) Oh, the joy. As on Ubuntu I tried making a connection to the repository with this URL: svn+ssh://timbuktu/backup-repository. The crucial info not stated anywhere in the docs for RapidSVN, is that in order to make a tunneled connection to the Subversion server you

  1. Have to have a ssh command line program, such as Putty’s plink
  2. Set an environmental variable called SVN_SSH to point to this program like this
    set SVN_SSH=c:\path\to\plink.exe (with double slashes!)

More here. I sat up untill 4 in the morning this sundag figuring it out. A nice way to make you appreciate the people documenting their programs…

The stupid thing is that after using hours finding out how to do this, I also found out it was of no use to me. Each time RapidSVN makes a connection to the repository (which is often) it makes a new ssh connection as well, thus making plink.exe pop up without end. I could have used an executable from TortoiseSVN called TortoisePlink.exe, but because the .msi-installs demands Service Pack 2 or later, I could not install it. It could not continue like this, so I searched for an alternative and found it here (Norwegian here). By using the svn protocol (without the SSH part) I only need to setup a few tidbits of authorization, and it’s a go. It’s explained in detail in the SVN book

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