Tuesday 8 July 2008

TortoiseSVN 1.5 and svnmerge Issue - "svn: This client is too old to work with working copy '.'; please get a newer Subversion client"

WARNING: TortoiseSVN 1.5 does silent upgrades (aka the touch of death) on your SVN working copies that renders it unusable with older SVN clients. This affects clients such as the 1.4 based version of svnmerge (the current version as I write this).

Before the most recent 1.5 upgrade for TortoiseSVN, the last major version was made over 2 years ago. So you could imagine that I was quite keen to upgrade to latest version when my TortoiseSVN notified me that I should upgrade to version 1.5.

I've generally had a good experience with TortoiseSVN thus far so I bit the bullet and downloaded the latest and greatest version of this handy tool. I only uncovered the implcations of this upgrade when all my svnmerge scripts started to fail (we use the svnmerge utility via a batch file to deploy our changes to trunk and onto our build server). Then things hit the proverbial fan. I started to get the following errors for all svnmerge operations (including simple status calls) :

"svn: This client is too old to work with working copy '.'; please get a newer Subversion client"

I thought it was unusual that:

  1. TortoiseSVN installer would affect svnmerge at all (I assumed some shared DLLs had been updated).
  2. (on a more minor note) That it would start telling me that I had an old version of the client tool when I had the very latest versions of TortoiseSVN and svnmerge (http://www.subversionary.org/binaries/installer-for-svnmerge). I would hope that a tool as popular as svnmerge would be updated within days of a new client version being released.

I thought the rollback process would be as simple as uninstalling 1.5 of TortoiseSVN - but I uninstalled and changed back to 1.4.8 - and got the same error! Even the 1.4 versions of svn started to get the same error.

It turns out that once you start working with the new version of the tool, the SVN metadata is silently upgraded to the latest version. Unfortunately, if you want to keep using svnmerge, the fix for this issue (until a new version of svnmerge comes out) is to:

  1. Roll back to a 1.4 version
  2. Essentially throw away your working copy
  3. Do a fresh checkout.

This will get you back to the place you started. This could take a while - especially if you're in Australia and the subversion server is in Atlanta! Phew!

The TortoiseSVN 1.5 touch of death at work (it is not backwards compatible with 1.4 clients):


lynxnake said...

It is described in SVN FAQ: http://subversion.tigris.org/faq.html#working-copy-format-change

To downgrade you need run Python script http://svn.collab.net/repos/svn/trunk/tools/client-side/change-svn-wc-format.py

I ran it using ActivePython ( www.activestate.com )

And I pretty agree with you - TortoiseSVN 1.5 should be much better :)

Harry Slaughter said...

wow, that script works!

thank you very much for posting it.

i lazily updated tortoisesvn not realizing that it would break all the repos that i was accessing with it over the network on linux boxes.

what a pain.