There can be cases when it's important to version file permissions. One case I have at hand is to have a cache directory for automatically generated images in a web application. The cache must be open for writing by the webserver, because the images are generated via a PHP script.

Unfortunately, subversion does not perform versioning of the file permissions. As a result, when the cache directory is checked out, the permissions are restricted to the user who checks out, and the webserver cannot write content in the cache. There are some solutions to this problem:

  1. create a script that has to be run every time the tree is freshly checked out. The script checks the permission of critical directories and files, and put them correct. Advantages: quick to implement. Disadvantages: easy to forget, must be maintained for changes.
  2. Use the asvn wrapper to enhance subversion so that it can handle permissions via properties. Advantages: cleaner approach. Disadvantages: apparently none.
  3. Let the webserver user check out the tree. Advantages: conceptually simple. Disadvantages: You have to have access to the webserver user, and if a security flaw is available, the webserver can potentially alter any file or write in any directory.

I'm sure there are other solutions, but I'm not aware of them at the moment. My personal choice is for the first solution, mainly because I don't want to bring asvn into the system right now. The script scales appropriately for my current needs.