The documented methods of starting svnserve no longer work in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
"inetd" scripts are obsolete. "xinetd" scripts are now nonstandard.
The suggested third-party upstart script at http://pelam.fi/published_sources/svnserve.conf
looks bogus. It has the line
exec /usr/bin/svnserve --foreground --daemon --config-file /etc/svnserve.conf --root /home/svn/
which uses an option "--config-file" not in the svnserve documentation, runs in the foreground (inappropriate for a daemon), and appears to run as root. Upstart runs everything as root by default. "A future release of Upstart will have native support for (not running as root)".
This should have been handled during Ubuntu packaging.
How do I work around this mess?