Subversion version conflict

March 2, 2008

I reinstalled my server this weekend. I felt like my old 20 GB Maxtor hard drive had done it job and it was time for an upgrade. The label said it was constructed in October 2001 so that is at least seven and a half years. I purchased two new 160 GB hard drives and configured software RAID1 (mirror). It works like a charm, and now my data is more safe than ever ! ... at least that is what I try to tell myself.

However, I previously ran Debian unstable and now I figured it would be more reasonable to run Debian stable (etch) instead. This caused some problems with subversion and apache. I run mod_dav_svn in apache with SSL for secure data transfer for all my subversion access. And since Debian stable has a lower version of subversion than unstable my subversion repositories was not fully compatible.

The apache log threw out a lot of errors for each commit:
[Sat Mar 01 23:39:22 2008] [error] [client] Could not create activity /svn/(the_repo)/!svn/act/8b8e0c43-322c-470b-9c65-25a848f3db49. [500, #0]
[Sat Mar 01 23:39:22 2008] [error] [client] could not close dbm files. [500, #89026]
[Sat Mar 01 23:39:22 2008] [error] [client] Can't close activity db: Error string not specified yet [500, #89026]

And then similar errors when I removed the repo/dav directory (It thought it would be recreated):

[Sun Mar 02 18:31:27 2008] [error] [client] Could not create activity /svn/(the_repo)/!svn/act/40d2c87d-b10e-43e0-ba33-51990522c17d. [500, #0]
[Sun Mar 02 18:31:27 2008] [error] [client] could not open dbm files. [500, #120002]
[Sun Mar 02 18:31:27 2008] [error] [client] Can't open activity db: APR does not understand this error code [500, #120002]

It took me a while to figure out that the dav directory must exist inside the repository but that the activity file should be removed. So the solution was to simply only remove the activity file and now it works again.

Yeah, and as you might imagine... one of my hard drives died the other day :( I guess that is what motivated the upgrade. Even if I had thought about the upgrade for the server for a long time I never took myself the time to make the upgrade before. A hard drive crash every now and then is probably good for data security :)


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