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Version Control with Subversion, 2nd Edition by Brian W. Fitzpatrick, Ben Collins-Sussman, C. Michael Pilato

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Requests and Responses

The Subversion client spends most of its time managing working copies. When it needs information from a remote repository, however, it makes a network request, and the server responds with an appropriate answer. The details of the network protocol are hidden from the user—the client attempts to access a URL, and depending on the URL scheme, a particular protocol is used to contact the server (see the sidebar Repository URLs).

Tip

Run svn --version to see which URL schemes and protocols the client knows how to use.

When the server process receives a client request, it often demands that the client identify itself. It issues an authentication challenge to the client, and the client responds by providing credentials back to the server. Once authentication is complete, the server responds with the original information that the client asked for. Notice that this system is different from systems such as CVS, where the client preemptively offers credentials (logs in) to the server before ever making a request. In Subversion, the server pulls credentials by challenging the client at the appropriate moment, rather than the client pushing them. This makes certain operations more elegant. For example, if a server is configured to allow anyone in the world to read a repository, the server will never issue an authentication challenge when a client attempts to svn checkout.

If the particular network requests issued by the client result in a new revision being created ...

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