Rsync'ing over a newer subversion (fsfs) repository

So there are two servers; let's call them srv1 and srv2. Srv1 contains a bunch of subversion repositories, but these are to be migrated to srv2. Since the repositories are not (just) used for ascii-only files, they're fairly big (several tens of gigabytes, altogether), so copying them from one server to the other would take a while. In order to make sure this would happen quickly, we had already copied them over to the new server, so that on the final switch would be quick (an rsync that would copy over just the new done transactions).

That final switch was today. Only I didn't know that instead of just testing, the customer had already started using one of the repositories (and they'd forgotten to remind me), so the subversion repository suddenly jumped backwards in time. In addition, the new server wasn't being backed up yet (at least not for the subversion bits), so restoring from backups wasn't an option. Oops.

Luckily the solution is fairly simple. You see, fsfs stores each revision in a unique file; that means that as long as nobody has committed to the repository yet (which they couldn't, since system users aren't the same on both servers, so the webserver didn't have write permissions on the repository after the rsync), nothing is lost. One only needs to manually change the repository so that whatever subversion thinks is the latest commit, actually is the latest commit.

That information is stored in a file called db/current inside the repository. What's in that file depends on the repository version, which is stored in a file called db/format in the repository. For versions 1 and 2, the format is a single line with three space-separated values, of which the first is the last revision number used in the repository. The other two are counters that are used to give transactions unique names; and they, too, need to be up-to-date. For version 3 and above, the file contains only the revision number; there, the other two are derived from that instead of having their own unique number.

Figuring out the last used revision number in an fsfs repository is ridiculously easy:

ls -v db/revs|tail -n1

So if you've got a repository of fsfs version 3 or above, just change the revision number in the db/current file (after taking backups and making sure nobody can access the repository while you're doing this, of course), and you're all set.

Unfortunately, in my case, the repository was still in fsfs version 2, which meant I could not change just the revision number and not expect trouble. I suppose it should've been possible to figure out what the last transaction numbers are, somehow, so that I could fix the current file completely, but I reasoned that upgrading to a newer repository format might have other advantages too, so I just dumped the repository and reloaded it, and everything worked at that point.