Can you suggest a good introduction to Subversion for UNIX (or Mac OS X) users? It can assume familiarity with basic command-line usage, but not any advanced topics (with bash scripting counting as "advanced usage" here...)

Ideally, the guide should include:

  • a short introduction on what a VCS is for (in general) and to the Subversion model in particular;

  • quick-start usage (checkout, update/edit/commit cycle)

  • installation instructions; bonus points if it mentions that it's already available for all major OSes out there and leads people to install from package and not compile from source...

  • 2
    not to be grammar/spelling police, but it's inexperienced. Aug 13, 2010 at 0:06
  • I also recommend git the progit book can be read free online. Aug 13, 2010 at 0:07
  • @xenoterracide: thanks, I've corrected the spelling Aug 15, 2010 at 11:28

3 Answers 3


I've always liked this subversion book, which contains a great intro and easy to follow examples. It also has a quickstart guide in the appendix. It's the only documentation I've ever used while I was a subversion user.

  • Yeah, this is really important. The subversion book is the best reference there is, and it's wonderfully well-written, and totally accessible to people who have never heard of VCS before.
    – Sandy
    Aug 12, 2010 at 16:59
  • 1
    You can get the printed version (or digital download) from the O'Reilly website: oreilly.com/catalog/9780596510336
    – zugaldia
    Aug 12, 2010 at 21:27

The svn book (as others have mentioned) is probably the most comprehensive text.

If you want a quick introduction to the concepts then the second chapter of the TortoiseSVN documentation "Basic Version-Control Concepts" is quite good.


In addition to the books mentioned above, I have found svn help from the command line to be helpful, especially when using commands for the first time. e.g., svn help commit

I learned SVN basics by watching the command line while making changes using a GUI, like TortoiseSVN, and then moving onto the command line and using the built-in help.

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