I've a debian webserver with subversion running on it.

I'm trying to use post-commit script to update my staging version of my site.


/usr/bin/svn update /home/sites/example.com/www >> /var/log/svn/example.log 2>&1

if I run that command from the command line logged in as user 'derek' then it all works fine

but when it runs as post-commit I get the following error in my log file:

svn: Can't open file '/home/sites/example.com/www/.svn/lock': Permission denied

Ok, so I realize what is happening here is the user calling the post-commit script isn't 'derek' so it hasn't permission.

So my question is what user is calling the post-commit script.

the svnserve daemon is run as derek ... I thought that would mean the post-commit command would be called as derek too but it seems not.

Any ideas how I can find out what user is calling it

and secondly what would be the best practice method to allow access for that user? I don't think adding it to the group would help because the group doesn't have the write access to the .svn directories by default.

UPDATE: I've just found that www-data is the user that seems to be calling the script. Now naturally www-data can't run the svn command.

3 Answers 3


who am i >> /var/log/svn/example.log will output under which user the command is running.

  • nice idea. I'll try that. Oct 7, 2010 at 22:52

Hmm. The hooks are run as the user svnserve is running as.


Subversion executes hooks as the same user who owns the process that is accessing the Subversion repository. In most cases, the repository is being accessed via a Subversion server, so this user is the same user as whom the server runs on the system

  • thats what I thought but for some reason i'm still getting the error. Oct 7, 2010 at 22:52
  • its seems it's www-data.. Oct 8, 2010 at 0:22
  • if it's running as www-data, it looks like you're serving the repo through apache, not svnserve Oct 8, 2010 at 10:13

I got it working. I had to write my own c program but it works!

thanks to info I found here: http://forum.webfaction.com/viewtopic.php?pid=216#p216

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