< Contribute
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Contribute/Get a Contributor Account

Contribute/Get a SVN Account

This tutorial is about how to apply for a SVN account for KDE.


  • The word SVN applies to all SVN servers.
  • The phrase KDE SVN refers only to KDE's SVN server.
  • The phrase anonymous SVN means KDE's anonymous SVN mirrors.

What is KDE SVN?

To have write access to KDE SVN, you have to use the main SVN server of KDE. (Anonymous SVN uses mirrors of this server. SVN does not allow you to read from one server and write to another.)

To be able to use the main KDE SVN server, you need an account there. An account is made up of a username (normally your family name), a password and an email address. The username is for getting in, the password for authenticating and the email address for knowing who to contact if another developer wants to contact the account holder. (The username is sometimes known also as the login.)

A KDE SVN account allows you to write to nearly anywhere in the KDE SVN. However, there are exceptions:

  • the KDE SVN internals
  • the admin directory
  • the www module (exceptions can be made for this.)

Note: you can see the accounts in kde-common/accounts. That is the list of all accounts. Yes, the account list is public, for example on WebSVN.

To access the main KDE SVN, you have two possibilities, with different ways (protocols) to encrypt transmitted data:

  • using HTTPS-protocol
  • using SSH-protocol

If you are behind a firewall, you need to use the HTTPS-protocol, you can't use the SSH-protocol.

If you have never used ssh before, you might prefer HTTPS, it's a bit simpler to set up.

However it seems that currently svn-over-ssh is really much faster than svn-over-https, so that is a good reason for using ssh.

The password you will need to create depends on the above:

  • a normal password for accessing by HTTPS, or
  • a SSH public key for accessing by SSH

Who Can Apply For a KDE SVN Account?

Normally, any developer who has done some work on KDE can apply for a KDE SVN account.

Translators should get approval from their team leader so that they can organize how the work is being done in his/her team. Please mention the approval from the team leader when requesting the account.

Please also read the KDE SVN commit policy. You must accept these rules when using your future KDE SVN account. Please also familiarize yourself with the KDE Code of Conduct which describes the social foundations within KDE.

Also please apply for an account only if you think that you will work on KDE for a somewhat longer time. If you know that you will only work for a couple of weeks and then never again, please consider not applying for a KDE SVN account but still, do continue to send patches.

The limitations are not there to exclude anyone - they are there to ensure that the maintenance of accounts remains reasonable.

Of course, to be clear: the KDE's sysadmins have the last word about whether or not to create a KDE SVN account for somebody.

Access via HTTPS

Choosing a Password

First of all, you have to choose a password. If possible, one that you do not use for anything else on your computer (as the SVN account has nothing to do with any other account on your computer.)

In any case, please use common precautions about passwords.

Strong passwords:

  • have both upper and lower case letters.
  • have digits and/or punctuation characters as well as letters.
  • are easy to remember, so they do not have to be written down.
  • are at least eight characters long.

A strong password is not:

  • Personal information such as your name, phone number, social security number, birth date or address. Even names of acquaintances and the like should not be used.
  • Any word in the dictionary, or based closely on such a word (such as a word spelled backwards).
  • A word with letters simply replaced by digits. For example, bl0wf1sh is not a strong password.
  • Easy to spot while you're typing them in. Passwords like 12345, qwerty (i.e., all keys right next to each other), or nnnnnn should be avoided.

All the rules are not here to annoy you but to guarantee a certain level of security for the KDE SVN server.

Getting the Encoded Password

Now that you have your password, you need to encode it, not to have to send it in clear. (Note: this encryption is the same type of encryption used by many Linux distributions for their /etc/shadow file.)

If your password is 8 characters long, one way to do this would be using Perl:

perl -e 'print crypt("<your password>","\$1\$xyz\$")."\n";'

where <your password> has to be replaced with your password and xyz with 3 to 8 random characters of your choice. Leave the \$1\$ before it and the \$ after it.

(Hint: $ must be "escaped" with a backslash. For instance: If your password is "abc$123" you have to replace <your password> with "abc\$123". )

Note: do not worry to find your choice of <xyz> at the start of the encoded password, it is meant to be so.

Another solution is to create a dummy account on a Unix system where you have administrator access. You can use the built-in user management programs of your distribution and search for the account in your file /etc/shadow or you can use the following code:

useradd dummy; passwd dummy; grep dummy /etc/passwd /etc/shadow; userdel dummy

In any case, the password is then the part between the first ':' and the second ':'. (Note: not a star! (*) That means that it is not the password!)

Note: This might not work anymore with newer systems because they encrypt the password with a hash algorithm that is not (yet) supported by the kde server. To be save, use the perl script

Save the encoded password so that you can use it later in the application.

Access via SSH

You need a SSH public key in order to access your KDE SVN account with SSH. If you already have one, you can skip the next subsection and go to Setting up the SVN+SSH protocol.

Generating the SSH keys

To be able to use your KDE SVN account with SSH, you need a SSH public key. Please notice that it is not a GPG (OpenPGP) key, which is completely unrelated!

The password in the sense of this documentation is the public key that you are creating.

For more information on how to create a pair o SSH keys, please refer to a SSH documentation or book.

In short, the command to create a pair of keys is ssh-keygen and it requires the type of key you will create, either DSA or RSA - both are fine.

To create a new pair of keys, use ssh-keygen -t dsa or ssh-keygen -t rsa

There is also a type called RSA1 which was used in version 1 of the SSH protocol. See the ssh documentation for more details.

You can then accept the default filename for your key (either $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa or $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa, depending on the type of key you have chosen). After that, a passphrase is asked. It is recommended that you do not leave it blank.

Now that you are finished generating your key pair, you will have two files: a private key and a public key. If you have accepted the default filename, they will be respectively $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa and $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa.pub or $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa and $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa.pub, depending on the type of key you have specified.

The private key must remain secret, do not publish it to anyone under any circumstance.

The public key can be published and shall be sent when you are applying for a KDE SVN account.

You should also set up ssh-agent so you do not have to type the password every time you connect via SSH. There are several tutorials available explaining how to do this, for example this one. Keychain is a program that makes this task easier.

Note: if you already have an ssh key, you can just use the existing key instead of creating a new one.

If you want to use SVN with SSH with another user than the one who created the keys, you need to copy $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa.pub and $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa or $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa.pub and $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa to the other user's $HOME/.ssh directory. You should probably also backup those files.

Setting up the SVN+SSH protocol

Once you created your key, you'll have to tell SSH that this one should be used for all connections to KDE sites. Add the following lines to the ~/.ssh/config file. Replace USERNAME with yours.

Host *.kde.org
        User USERNAME
        IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_dsa

The linked IdentityFile must belong to the public key you send in when applying for the SVN account. But it is not the public key (*.pub).

Apply for an account

Now you are ready to apply for for a KDE SVN account. Go to https://sysadmin.kde.org/svnaccount/ and fill out the form.

You will need to enter your name and an e-mail address, which has to be your own (a normal address or a KDE Mail address). Of course, do not forget that this email address becomes public (at least by WebSVN) so you will unfortunately get spam.

Also note that this email address should be the same one that you use on bugs.kde.org. If you don't have an account in bugs.kde.org, please create one so that it can be given usual developer rights. Closing bug reports with keywords in commit comments only works if the email address of your Subversion and bugs.kde.org accounts match.

After that, you must choose a username for your KDE SVN account between the suggestions presented to you. Please notice it is not possible to propose something else such as a nickname, as the username must be as close as possible to someone's real name.

If you ask for a KDE email address one day, this will be the base for your address. For example: [email protected]. (Note, however, that KDE email addresses are not granted so easily anymore, as too many people have ranted with a KDE address and other people thought that it was the official position of the KDE Team. In the meantime, KDE Mail was created for if you need a permanent address.)

Then you have to specify the password that you will use. If you will prefer SSH access, provide your public key; if you want HTTPS access, enter your encrypted password.

The form also holds a field Why do you want an account?, where you can explain what you want to do with your future KDE SVN account, like for example developing a certain application, making documentations or being the team leader of a translation.

After filling out the form, you will receive an email with a link to click on. This is done to verify your email address. The application is not complete before you click on it.

Also note that the form will ask you who has encouraged you to apply. He or she will also get an email to verify your request.

Updating Existing Account

If you already have a KDE SVN account but want to update the ssh key or https password, send a request to the sysadmins, selecting the "svn account" component and attaching your ssh key or mentioning your new password.

And Now?

After having sent the form and clicking the link in the email, you have to wait for the answer (typically within two or three days).

Once you have confirmation that your account has been created, you need to adapt your local copy to the new server. See the next tutorial for your first steps with your new account.

Please add your geographical location (what country are you in?) and other details at the Commit Digest data page so that the Commit Digest can accurately reflect who is working where.

This page was last edited on 12 July 2016, at 09:40. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.