Configure SASL with svn (subversion)

Hello World,

So here I was trying to grope my way through setting up an svn (SUBVERSION) instance for my projects. Following is what I had set out to achieve:

1. Install an SVN Server
2. Install an svn client to access the server
3. Enable access through a secured protocol like SASL
4. Create a repository structure

This post details how I went about achieving the above.

1. Install an SVN server

This one was the simplest of all. After googling a bit, I gathered that CollabNet offers a free, open source server that comes with an MSI installer – just what I was looking for. I downloaded the same from the CollabNet website. The site has documentation to aid the install and configuration that pretty much works for everyone with the ability to understand English 🙂 

2. Install an SVN client

Although there are a number of choices here, the most widely used and simple client interface is offered by Tortoise SVN. Again, this comes with an installer (MSI) that is self explanatory.

3. Enable SASL to access the SVN server

This turned out to be the difficult part because the documentation that accompanied Tortoise SVN did not have enough detail (or I could not find it!). What did I do next? No prizes for guessing: Google for how to set up SASL with SVN. I will list out what worked for me (and hopefully would work for anyone)

To enable SASL:

1. Edit svnserve.conf located in C:\SVN_REPOSITORY\conf directory (assuming your repository is located there.)
1.1 Uncomment the line use-sasl=true
1.2 ensure there are no spaces before “use-sasl”

2. Uncomment the line realm=My first repository
2.1 Give a unique name here e.g. realm=SVNREPOROOT
2.2 Ensure there are no spaces before “realm”

3. Create file subversion.conf in the directory pointed to by the registry path
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Carnegie Mellon\Project Cyrus\SASL Library and key called SearchPath under that

4. Enter the following in the subversion.conf file created in 3 above:
pwcheck_method: auxprop
auxprop_plugin: sasldb
mech_list: DIGEST-MD5

for an explanation of what the keys mean, refer to SASL documentation online

5. Now to create users, run the following from command line:

saslpasswd2 -c -f C:\sasldb -u SVNREPOROOT username

C:\sasldb is the location where you’d want to create the sasl database file
SVNREPOROOT is the value specified for realm parameter in your svnserve.conf file
username is the login that you would like to use

5.1 You would be asked for password and then to confirm the password. Once done, the prompt would return to a new line (no message will be shown after you confirm password). This indicates that you have successfully created a user and set a password!!

IMPORTANT NOTE: All parameters in the svnserve.conf file (and any other conf files) should begin on the first column on the line; that is, there should not be any space before the parameter name. If this is not the case, you would get some strange failure messages that may cause your head to spin like a top. You have been warned!

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