Instant Windows SVN Server with SSL and ActiveDirectory

Thanks to

I am not joking. After a significant amount of fiddling and application of Occam’s Razor I have come to a configuration of Apache 2.2 that delivers a completely functional and relatively secure SVN server. To be honest it isn’t instant, but it is pretty easy to do and will give a robust configuration that should not need post-install tweaking.

Get the pre-requisite software and libraries in place

  1. Download and install the MSI for Apache 2.2 for Windows with OpenSSL
  2. Download the archive of Apache 2.2 Subversion binaries
  3. Extract
  4. Copy bin\intl3_svn.dll and bin\libdb44.dll to Apache2.2\bin
  5. Copy bin\ and bin\ to Apache2.2\modules
  6. Download the Apache 2.2 version of mod_auth_sspi
  7. Extract
  8. Copy bin\ to Apache2.2\modules

Sign Yourself an SSL Certificate (it is better to buy one, but this is cheaper)

Create Apache2.2\createSSLCert.bat with the following content:

bin\openssl req -config conf\openssl.cnf -new -out my-server.csr
bin\openssl genrsa -out conf\privkey.pem 2048
bin\openssl rsa -in conf\privkey.pem -out conf\server.key
bin\openssl req -new -key conf\server.key -out conf\server.csr -config conf\openssl.cnf
bin\openssl x509 -in conf\server.csr -out conf\server.crt -req -signkey conf\server.key -days 4000
bin\openssl x509 -in conf\server.crt -out conf\server.der.crt -outform DER

Carefully fill out the SSL Certificate Details

It is critical that the Common Name on the Certificate match the fully qualified domain name of the server. I found that Apache was unable to use it for SSL otherwise. A mismatched Common Name (CN) also confuses the hell out of client software. Double-click createSSLCert.batto start the process of building the SSL cert and key. There are a lot of prompts so be patient.

Create new file Apache2.2\conf\extras\httpd-dav-svn.conf:

LoadModule ssl_module modules/
LoadModule dav_module         modules/
LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/
LoadModule sspi_auth_module modules/
Listen 443
AddType application/x-x509-ca-cert .crt
AddType application/x-pkcs7-crl    .crl
SSLPassPhraseDialog  builtin
SSLSessionCache        shm:logs/ssl_scache(512000)
SSLSessionCacheTimeout  300
SSLMutex default
<VirtualHost _default_:443>
SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile conf/server.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile conf/server.key
<FilesMatch "\.(cgi|shtml|phtml|php)$">
    SSLOptions +StdEnvVars
<Directory "cgi-bin">
    SSLOptions +StdEnvVars
CustomLog logs/ssl_request.log \
          "%t %h %{SSL_PROTOCOL}x %{SSL_CIPHER}x \"%r\" %b"
<Location />
    DAV svn
    SVNListParentPath on
    SVNParentPath C:/Repositories
    AuthType SSPI
    SSPIAuth On
    SSPIAuthoritative On
    SSPIOfferBasic On
    SSPIBasicPreferred On
#    SSPIDomain DEVDOMAIN (Optional)
    Require valid-user

Add to end of Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf:

Include conf/extra/httpd-dav-svn.conf

IMPORTANT: Restart the server (use shutdown -r -t 3 from the Command Prompt if you are using RDP)
You need to restart because otherwise the modules will not load correctly. I am not exactly sure why, but I tried this several times without restarting and it failed every time. This is not superstition it is actually required.

Add a new repository to your server

  1. Add svn-win32-1.6.3\bin to your System Path
  2. Run svnadmin create C:\Repositories\svn

One particularly nice thing is that you can add any number of repositories without having to dig into Apache’s config and without restarting Apache.

Take a look at https://localhost/ with your web browser. You should now have a functional Subversion server authenticating against your ActiveDirectory Domain listing svn as a repository. Enjoy 🙂

Tested Working Clients

  • svn command line on Windows
  • Internet Explorer 6 on Windows
  • Chrome on Windows
  • Firefox on Windows
  • svn command line on Mac OS X
  • Subversive in Eclipse on Mac OS X
  • WebKit on Mac OS X

Oddly enough Internet Explorer actually chokes if SSPIBasicPreferred is not on. In theory it should successfully authenticate with NTLM in the single sign-on style, but it hangs or gets rejected by the server instead. We are using SSL anyway so HTTP Basic is reasonably safe.

Posted by Alain O’Dea at 10:49 PM