The most important commands for SVN

Here are the most important commands for using SVN in the command line on Linux. You have to be inside your local folder where you put the svn else it won’t work (most common source for error “Skipping .'” or “. is not a working copy”).


To update your local working copy to the newest version that exists on the server (ALWAYS do this before you start to change things or your teammates will kill you!!):

svn update


Files you move into the local working copy folder are not added automatically. If you want the file to be part of the SVN, you have to add it. It works for multiple files or folders, too.

svn add 


To delete files from the repository, first mark them for deletion:

svn rm 

On the next commit, the file will be deleted from the repository and from your local copy! If you want to keep the local copy, do

svn rm --keep-local 


With revert, you can undo pending changes in your working copy (e.g. add, delete) before the next commit.

svn revert 

Also handy in case you forgot what local changes you made and you want to return to the latest “safe” version from the repository.
Note that this does NOT enable you to go back to a previous already-commited version. To do that, you can checkout the specific version of your repository at some other place (with the option -r) and manually get what you need or follow the procedure outlined here.

commit (changes to the repository)

If you have changed a file, added or deleted something and want to put the changes into the SVN you have to commit it, without that the changes are only in your working copy and not on the server!

svn ci -m ""


It is good practice to write log messages with commits. You can review these log messages with

svn log

You should do an update of your working copy before this command, otherwise you will not get all messages. In case this is a lot of messages, you can add a limit, e.g., display only the latest 5 log entries:

svn log -l 5


To see which files of your working copy haven’t been committed yet:

svn status

Common SVN status codes:


To see what has changed in a file from the last version to the current version:

svn diff 

More resources: You can always use “svn help” to see what else is there or take a look at the excellent book.

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About swk

I am a computational linguist, teacher of computer science and above all a huge fan of LaTeX. I use LaTeX for everything, including things you never wanted to do with LaTeX. My latest love is lilypond, aka LaTeX for music. I'll post at irregular intervals about cool stuff, stupid hacks and annoying settings I want to remember for the future.