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Version Control with Subversion
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Version Control with Subversion - Chapter 5. Repository Administration - Repository Data Stores

Repository Data Stores

As of Subversion 1.1, there are two options for storing data in a Subversion repository. One type of repository stores everything in a Berkeley DB database; the other kind stores data in ordinary flat files, using a custom format. Because Subversion developers often refer to a repository as “the (versioned) filesystem”, they have adopted the habit of referring to the latter type of repository as FSFS [14] —a versioned filesystem implementation that uses the native OS filesystem to store data.

When a repository is created, an administrator must decide whether it will use Berkeley DB or FSFS. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, which we'll describe in a bit. Neither back-end is more “official” than another, and programs which access the repository are insulated from this implementation detail. Programs have no idea how a repository is storing data; they only see revision and transaction trees through the repository API.

Table 5.1, “Repository Data Store Comparison” gives a comparative overview of Berkeley DB and FSFS repositories. The next sections go into detail.

Table 5.1. Repository Data Store Comparison

Feature Berkeley DB FSFS
Sensitivity to interruptions very; crashes and permission problems can leave the database “wedged”, requiring journaled recovery procedures. quite insensitive.
Usable from a read-only mount no yes
Platform-independent storage no yes
Usable over network filesystems no yes
Repository size slightly larger slightly smaller
Scalability: number of revision trees database; no problems some older native filesystems don't scale well with thousands of entries in a single directory.
Scalability: directories with many files slower faster
Speed: checking out latest code faster slower
Speed: large commits slower, but work is spread throughout commit faster, but finalization delay may cause client timeouts
Group permissions handling sensitive to user umask problems; best if accessed by only one user. works around umask problems
Code maturity in use since 2001 in use since 2004

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Version Control with Subversion
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