Not Really a Blog

December 13, 2006

More on setting a subversion mirror repository

Filed under: Internet, Programming — Tags: , , , — jesus @ 22:34

A few days ago I wrote about setting up a subversion repository using svnsync. On that entry I was using svn+ssh authentication, but there are some gotchas to take into account to avoid having a security issue.If you recall correctly, we had a unix user with which people will access the repository. If we haven’t taken any extra protection, that means that anyone that has their ssh key on such a user’s ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file can log into the system. If such user uses public authentication to access the remote account used for the remote repository, any committer can have access to the private key and thus access the remote machine and have write permissions on it.

To avoid this scenario we need to set things up in a way that users can commit to the main repository but cannot have access to the remote repository. And that, again, can be done by creating a different user (Remember, all this applies to the main repository box, not the remote box).

  • svn: The user used for the repository. It will let any user have write permission on the repository. It will also have all the public keys of all the committers, to allow them to access the server using the svn+ssh authentication under the generic user svn, in case it needs to be retrieved from a remote location, which can be easily used by forwarding your credentials.
  • svnsync: A user which will have access to the repository (read access is enough) and will have a couple of wrapper scripts to svnsync. It will use a ssh key to access the remote repository. The rest of the users will have no read permissions on this user’s home directory.
  • The rest of the users for the committers. They will have write access to the repository. As you may know, if you use svn+ssh authentication, whenever you do a commit, you basically are executing svnserve on the repositoy under your user ID (That’s why you need write permissions).

This way, committers won’t have access to the svnsync private key. But we must grant them access to the wrapper scripts, so whenever they do a commit, svnserve is able to execute those scripts by triggering a post-commit hook.

All these can be achieved by using sudo. So, say that we have two different wrapper scripts:

  • /home/svnsync/bin/
    # this is to synchronize the repostory
    # $1 will be the repository
    if [[ -z $1 ]]
        # The repository should be a parameter
    DATE=`date +%Y%m%d-%H%M `
    echo "[$DATE] Commiting to repository $1 . (output below if any)" >> /home/svnsync/svnsync-commit.log 2>&1
    /usr/local/bin/svnsync synchronize --username svnsync "$1" >> /home/svnsync/svnsync-commit.log 2>&1
  • /home/svnsync/bin/
    # this is to synchronize the a property
    # $1 will be the repository
    # $2 will be the revision number
    if [[ -z $1 || -z $2 ]]
        # The repository should be a parameter
    DATE=`date +%Y%m%d-%H%M `
    echo "[$DATE] Updating property (Revision $2) to repository $1 . (output below if any)" >> /home/svnsync/svnsync-properties.log 2>&1
    /usr/local/bin/svnsync copy-revprops --username svnsync "$1" "$2"  >> /home/svnsync/svnsync-properties.log 2>&1

We can call them by setting up the hook scripts as:

  • post-commit hook:
    # Propagate the data to the remote repository
    sudo -u svnsync /home/svnsync/bin/ svn+ssh://svnsync@remote/home/svnsync/svn &
  • post-rev-change:
    # Propagating changes to the remote repository. Putting it to the background
    sudo -u svnsync /home/svnsync/bin/ svn+ssh://svnsync@remote/home/svnsync/svn $REV  &

    All we need to do now is grant access to the committers to execute both wrapper scripts by adding the following to the /etc/sudoers file (remember, by using visudo)

    %commiters  ALL= (svnsync) NOPASSWD: /home/svnsync/bin/
    svn         ALL= (svnsync) NOPASSWD: /home/svnsync/bin/
  • Where committers is a common group where all committers belong to.

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    1 Comment »

    1. Thanks for the update! Everything worked, except that I had to make sure to start the post-commit and post-revprop-change script with
      or I would get a warning with no content on a commit:

      Warning: ‘post-commit’ hook failed with error output:

      Comment by crw — November 11, 2007 @ 21:02

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