Compile / Configure Subversion w/SSL Enabled

My company: WebSight Design, uses Subversion for source and version control for all of our web development projects. We also use the amazing hosted Subversion service: Springloops. (If you ever need a Subversion deployment tool, Springloops is it!) Springloops repositories are *only* accessible via HTTPS. In order to gain access to a repository from the command line, I had to re-configure Subversion on our servers to enable access to ssl urls. Seems simple enough and actually it is. However, as with all things Linux, the devil is in the details. I spent hours-upon-hours trying to get it to work. It simply comes down to the sequence of steps you take. What I’ve done here is list out all of the steps done to get it working to save you from the same pain I went through.

So, I am assuming that you are trying to access a Subversion repository via an https url and you are getting the message “ssl not supported” or something similar to this. I know, it sucks and it’s pretty frustrating. I promise you however, if you do *exactly* what I spell out below, in the sequence I list… you will be up and working in about 15-20mins. The only other assumption here is that you are using Ubuntu or some other Debian-based Linux distro that supports the APT package manager.

It’s important to know that Subversion uses a module called Neon to provide ssl connectivity. The key here is to use the version of Neon for your specific release of Subversion. This is key to everything else that follows. Don’t just grab the latest versions of Subversion and Neon and assume they will work correctly together. So with that… let’s get to work.

First, make sure the following packages are installed on your server:

sudo apt-get install build-essential


sudo apt-get install expat


sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev

Next, download latest Subversion files:


NOTE: “X” above is a placeholder for your version no.

Untar em’ in this order:

tar xjvf subversion-1.4.X.tar.bz2
tar xjvf subversion-deps-1.4.X.tar.bz2

Once you have extracted the files, open the file ”


“. Locate the section on Neon. It will state which version you need to download and compile with this version of Subversion.

Make sure you are *not* in the Subversion directory you just created. Then go ahead and download Neon:


NOTE: The “X” above is placeholder for the version of Neon you need.

Next, extract the archive:

tar zxvf neon-1.X.X.tar.gz
cd neon-1.X.X

Now is where the fun begins. You need to compile and install Neon. Do the following from *within* the Neon directory you created:

./configure --with-ssl
sudo make install

It’s important to note that Neon gets installed to /usr/local by default. You need to note that as you will now need it when compiling and installing Subversion.

Change back to the Subversion folder:

cd ../subversion-1.4.X

Compile and install Subversion:

./configure --enable-ssl --with-neon=/usr/local/
sudo make install

Now, realize that the Subversion compilation and installation process takes a long time to complete. So just be patient. You can ignore any warning messages that scroll by. You only need to be concerned with error messages or if the installation stops for any reason.

Once compilation and installation are complete you need to confirm that you are running the version of Subversion you just tried to install:

svn --version --quiet

If you get *anything* other than the version number you thought you installed, something went horribly wrong. Go back to the very beginning of this and try again. Most time folks get errors it is because that don’t have the prerequisite tools and utilities installed. If you see the version you wanted… you’re all good!

About WSD

WebSight Design is a Bay Area web design and development firm started in 1995. We build and manage websites for large corporations, as well as small and mid-size businesses looking to expand their reach. We specialize in search engine optimization, social media management, hosting, mobile development, and more.

Contact us today to see how WSD can take your business to the next level with our wide range of design, development, and internet marketing services.