I'm trying to update a working copy as a different user to the owner. The user is in the same group as the owner and the working copy is set to 755 throughout but I still get

svn: Can't open file '/path/to/working/copy/.svn/lock': Permission denied

2 Answers 2


Are the directory permissions set properly as well? I guess it's because it can't create the file because the dir doesn't have write permissions.

  • Permissions on the .svn folder needed to 775 not 755
    – RMcLeod
    Jun 19, 2012 at 10:10

In case of the lock, it may be just an unclean state. So, you can first, optionally run:

sudo svn cleanup

Then you can reset the permissions on the metadata files (in older Subversions there were many .svn folders):

find -name .svn | xargs chmod -R 777 

If you have spaces in names (which is a bad idea), you can still run:

find -name .svn | while read f; do echo $f; sudo chmod -R 777 "$f"; done

I'm not sure about the durability of this solution (if SVN won't change the permissions back, after some operations), but then you just need to reapply this solution.

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