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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

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?

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I modified the upstart script to work on mine: sudo vim /etc/init/svnserve.conf

# svnserve - Subversion server

description     "Subversion server"

start on (local-filesystems and net-device-up IFACE=lo and started udev-finish)
stop on runlevel [06]

chdir /home/svn


respawn limit 2 3600

exec /usr/bin/svnserve --daemon --root /home/svn --log-file /var/log/svnserve.log

Then run sudo initctl reload-configuration

You can remove the "--log-file /var/log/svnserve.log" part when happy.

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Not recognized. "initctl: Unknown job: svnserve" when I try to start – özg Jun 24 '15 at 13:22

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