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How to use SVN over SSH tunnel (svn+ssh) with PushOK SVNSCC plug-in

This instruction assumes the following things:

  • you already have a user account on a Unix server;
  • the user have permissions to access to the Subversion repository, located on this server;
  • you can access this server using SSH.

There are several ways of setting up your environment to work with svn+ssh:// protocol. First we will describe the recommended one, but if it is not suitable for you, there are some alternative configurations mentioned further.

The recommended configuration

Perform the following steps to set up your environment.

  1. TortoisePlink.exe will be needed for SSH authentication and tunnelling. So you have to install TortoiseSVN (
  2. Install PuTTY - a free SSH client for Windows (
  3. Go to "System properties" / "Advanced" / "Environment Variables..." and create the SVN_SSH variable which points to TortoisePlink.exe file. Note that you sould use forward slash (/) or paired backslash (\\) instead of single backslash (\).
    set SVN_SSH="C:/Program Files/TortoiseSVN/bin/TortoisePlink.exe"
    Now you can already access the repository using the following URL schema: "svn+ssh://username@hostname/path/to/repository". But the plug-in makes many connections to repository, and you will be prompted for a password every time a new connection requested. This is because all authentication is performed by SSH itself, therefore Subversion password caching feature does not work. So the next step is to set up a key authentication for SSH.
  4. Generate a new SSH-2 RSA private/public key pair or convert your existing private key to PuTTY format using PuTTYgen utility.
    Generating a new SSH-2 RSA key with PuTTYgen
  5. Put your public key on the server. If it doesn't already exist, create the authorized_keys file (on Unix, typically ~/.ssh/authorized_keys). Each line in this file describes a public key that is allowed to connect. Place your public key here.
  6. Open PuTTY. Enter hostname or IP address of the server.
    Specifying hostname for the new session
  7. Under "Connection" / "Data" enter the user name in the "Auto-login username" field.
    Specifying default username for the session
  8. Under "Connection" / "SSH" / "Auth" click on "Browse..." and point on your private key file.
    Specifying private key for the session
  9. Go back to the "Session" category. Enter the session name and click "Save".
    Saving the session
  10. Open the session you have just created. It should not prompt you for username and password, because a key authentication is used now. If you logged in successfully, this means that SSH configured correctly.
  11. Now you can connect to repository using the session name instead of username@hostname, for example "svn+ssh://svnsrv/usr/svn". Open your IDE and work with your projects as usual. Note that the username provided by the IDE will be ignored.
    Using the session with SVNSCC plug-in


Specifying the private key file directly in the SVN_SSH variable

You can use key authentication without saving of a PuTTY session. Just specify a path to the private key file as a parameter of TortoisePlink.exe in the SVN_SSH variable. For example,

set SVN_SSH="C:/Program Files/TortoiseSVN/bin/TortoisePlink.exe" -i C:/ssh/id_rsa.ppk

With this configuration you should specify the user name and the host name (or IP address) directly in the SVN URL, for example svn+ssh://user@ Alternative way is to specify the user name as an additional parameter for TortoisePlink:

set SVN_SSH="C:/Program Files/TortoiseSVN/bin/TortoisePlink.exe" -i C:/ssh/id_rsa.ppk -l username

Using the configuration file instead of the environment variable

You can use Subversion configuration file instead of the SVN_SSH environment variable. Usually it is located in user's folder, for example "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Subversion\config ". The file already contains the description of available parameters. Place your SSH configuration in the [tunnels] section of the file. For example,

ssh = $SVN_SSH "C:/Program Files/TortoiseSVN/bin/TortoisePlink.exe" -i C:/ssh/id_rsa.ppk

Using other SSH clients

You can use plink.exe from PuTTY or ssh.exe from OpenSSH instead of TortoisePlink.exe. The main disadvantage of this utilities is that console window appears when the utility started. TortoisePlink is a modified version of PuTTY plink, that uses graphical windows instead of a text console. It shares configuration settings with PuTTY. If you wish to use OpenSSH client as a tunneling tool, you should set up key authentication for it in a different way, not as described above. The detailed description of this procedure included in the OpenSSH distribution (refer to the "Key Based Authentication" document).

plink hangs under VMware with Windows 2000 installed

While testing our software under VMware with Windows 2000 installed we have noticed that plink.exe sometimes hangs after a TCP/IP connection with a server was established, but before logging in. It also applies to TortoisePlink.exe. At the same time under Windows XP the same version of plink.exe works perfectly with the same server. If you have encountered such a problem, try to use bridged network connection instead of NAT connection for your virtual machine.

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