SVN+SSH, SlikSVN, and Cygwin

As previously mentioned, since switching my desktop to Windows, I've set up a Subversion service using SlikSVN and an SSH service using Cygwin. So this week, I figured I'd try getting them to play together so that I can do Subversion over SSH and not have to open up another port in my firewall. It eventually worked out, but wasn't as painless and it should have been. And it was totally my fault.

As you know if you've ever used Subversion over SSH, it's pretty simple. You just change your protocol, point SVN to the repository on the remote server, and supply your OS login credentials. So, since I already had an account set up on the server and svnserve running, I figured this should work:
svn ls svn+ssh://myuser@myserver/myproject
But no dice - I got the message "svn: No repository found in 'svn+ssh://myuser@myserver/myproject'"

Hmm..... Time to Google.... Oh, that's right - you can't use the root directory supplied to svnserve over SSH! Instead, you have to supply the full path to the repository and project. But wait - my repository is on the D: how do you reference that? Well, SSH is running on Cygwin, so we can use Cygwin's drive mapping. So change that command to:
svn ls svn+ssh://myuser@myserver/cygdrive/d/myrepos/myproject
That should work, right?

Yeah...not so much. That definitely should work, but I'm still getting that "no repository found" message. So what's the deal?

A little searching revealed that, behind the scenes, the svn+ssh:// protocol runs a command similar to this:
ssh myserver svnserve -t
Turns out that the problem was in that command.

See, the svnserve portion runs on the Subversion server, which, in this case, is inside Cygwin on a Windows box. However, I have two copies of svnserve - one from Cygwin and one from SlikSVN, and they don't both work the same way.

For SVN+SSH to work, I need to pass the repository path in with the Cygwin path mapping, and SlikSVN doesn't understand that. Thus the need for Cygwin's SVN. However, SlikSVN is first in my path when I connect via SSH, so it's SlikSVN's svnserve that's getting run inside Cygwin. Hence the "no repository found" message.

After a bit of experimentation, it turns out that this is really easy to fix. All you need to do is set the PATH in your Cygwin .bashrc file to explicitly put the Cygwin binaries first. Just add the following line to the end of the file:
export PATH=/bin/:/usr/bin/:/usr/local/bin/:$PATH

So, problem solved. Unfortunately, it took a lot longer than I would have thought, mainly because I couldn't find anyone else who had the same problem. So hopefully anyone else who's crazy enough to set things up this way will come across this post if they have any problems.

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Comments #


    I did have the same problem. Thank to you i did not take a long time to me to fix that !

    Could you help me set svn_ssh with silksvn and putty?

    Hi Peter,

    Very useful log shall i say.I am unable to find any useful links which could help me with setting svn+ssh://.... on windows machine.Could you be of help please?.



    forgot to mention i am using putty and silksvn

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