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Stone-dead repository

From: Stuart Robertson <dogmatix_at_absolutesys.com>
Date: 2004-02-20 10:36:22 CET

Yesterday one of our developers tried to check in 400MB of product
documentation (Word docs) into a test repository, and half-way through the
commit failed. When the commit was re-attempted, the result was an HTTP


When I was asked to look into the problem, I initially thought that Apache
had died for some reason. We have two three SVN repositories along with the
test repository, all hosted from the save server machine. When I checked,
the other repositories were working fine. Apache was running without any


Next I logged onto the svn server, thinking that perhaps there was a problem
with the test repository itself. After shutting down Apache, I tried
'svnlook info /svnrepos/repositories/TestRepos', but the svnlook process
simply hung.


I tried running 'svnadmin lstxns /svnrepos/repositories/TestRepos', but it
too hung. Next I tried 'svnadmin recover /svnrepos/repositories/TestRepos'
which stated that it might take a long while. Half an hour later I tried
Ctrl+Break, to no avail. The only way to stop the 'svnadmin recover' was
'killall -9 svnadmin' (killall svnadmin had no effect).


Eventually I restored the backup from the night before, effectively losing
one day's commits to the test repository.


This has resulted in some perception issues. We have internally been
running a pilot project on SVN for about 9 months now, without any problems.
Just recently we have begun the process of migrating two additional projects
from VSS to SVN. Again, so far without problems. Our test repository is
just that, a test repository that all staff members in the company have
commit-rights to, primarily used to allow staff members to become familiar
with the copy-modify-merge model used by SVN.


As a result of today's little adventure I have two questions:


1) Does anyone know what might have caused the repository to die (or
become corrupted?)?

2) What strategies can I adopt to enable a commit-by-commit backup
(incremental preferably) of each repository so that, in the event of
something going wrong, I can (hopefully fairly quickly) restore the
repository to a working state and lost at most the last commit.


I've seen some discussion on the users mailing list about problems
committing large binary files (400MB+ if I remember correctly). The largest
Word document committed was around 35MB. Are there any known issues with
committing binary files into an SVN repository.


Our server configuration is as follows:


- RedHat Linux 9.3

- Subversion-0.37.0-1

- subversion-tools-0.37.0-1

- apr-0.9.5-0.2

- neon-0.24.4-1

- httpd-2.0.48-3

- 256MB RAM


Interestingly enough, when we retried the documentation commit after
restoring the backup, the commit succeeded, so the problem doesn't appear to
be a consistent one.


Any pointers/recommendations for a good incremental backup strategy will be
most appreciated.





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Received on Fri Feb 20 10:37:03 2004

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