i have a svn repository on a server that i access through svn+ssh. i have only user access (not root) and i cannot install mod_dav.

is there a way to configure multiple user access (ie. with multiple ssh keys) to the svn repository without giving the other svn users full ssh access ?

4 Answers 4


Sure, just drop the extra keys into the authorized_keys with a forced command of /usr/bin/svnserve -t (or alternate path as appropriate).

  • thank you now i get it after to @christianwolff explanation. i didn't know you can force a command that way.
    – gpilotino
    Commented Nov 19, 2009 at 13:49

What womble meant is that you can assign only one command to a ssh public key in the authorized_keys.

command="/usr/bin/svnserve -t" ssh-rsa ...

In this example the user accessing via his ssh key can only run the command /usr/bin/svnserve -t.

  • No problem. It's not a common task but it can be very useful as you can see. ;-)
    – chrw
    Commented Nov 19, 2009 at 13:59

There are three ways to access subversion:

  1. Via apache
  2. svnserve
  3. svnserve over SSH


If you've ruled out all of these then you need to move your subversion repository to somewhere else or not give people access.


You can give each of the people you want to have access a public key which they can use to connect through the same SSH user. Forcing each key to only be able to run svnserve -t --tunnel-user=<username> gives each key a separate SVN identity. This is covered well in a blog post by James Gardner.

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