Can't open activity db: Permission denied error for SVN commits

On my way to work this morning I got an emergency call from developer who unsuccessfully tried to commit latest java code changes to Subversion repository using TortoiseSVN. The developers was getting "Can't open activity db: Permission denied" error in TortoiseSVN client when he tried to commit or create a new tag in SVN.

The Apache error log had this lines related to SVN commit problem
Could not create activity /!svn/act/9dac40a3-4acf-3456-b328-a2598c258d06
Could not open dbm files
Can't open activity db: Permission denied

Just in case I have run svnadmin verify on Subversion repository, but as expected there was no problem at all. Then I noticed that the files on the dav folder of the SVN repository are not writable by Apache server. I changed files permission and successfully committed files with TortoiseSVN again.

The configuration used in this solution

• SVN 1.4.6
• Apache 2.0.49
• Tortoise 1.4.7

Unfortunately no references related to SVN commit problem were found in Subversion FAQ or TortoiseSVN FAQ

Update: I set permissions for "activites.pag" and "activities.dir" files in dav folder to 777


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to resolve 'can't open activity' SVN error too. Could you provide details of required permission?


Davy Michiels said...

Thanks for this tip!

I ran into the same problem and your tip solved it overhere

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot. It helped me.

Anonymous said...

appreciate your help.

Anonymous said...

In my case the problem was that the dav directory didn't exist at all. So i created it and gave the proper ownership:

mkdir /opt/svn/my_repository/dav
chown www-data.www-data /opt/svn/my_repository/dav

You have to change www-data with the user that apache runs on.

Marcelo Mrack said...


For me too: I created the dav/ folder in the repository and all working fine for Apache.

PS. 6 hours working on it :(

Pierinux said...

for me it worked too... even with a recent version of subversion (1.6) and apache, the dav directory under the repo is not created by svnadmin. so you need to create and chown it manually... :( 2 hours work gone!

thanks for the tip