502 Bad Gateway with SVN copy, move or rename behind a reverse proxy

Problem: You have a SVN server sitting behind a reverse web proxy (e.g. for convenient SSL termination purposes). This works for new files, changes etc. but fails when you try to rename something, make a copy or move. The error is:

Unexpected HTTP status 502 'Bad Gateway'

The reason is explained here, but to summarise:

These operations involve sending a http COPY method. This includes a┬áDestination: field in the header, which is not rewritten by Apache’s ProxyPass directives. Thus the destination field starts with https – not http. This confuses mod_dav on the SVN server.

The solution is to change the header. We can do this on Apache (2.2 or higher) using the headers module. This can be done either on the proxy server or the SVN server. As my SVN server is very old (the main reason why it’s behind a proxy) I’ll do this on the proxy server.

Enable the headers module if required. On Debian:

# a2enmod headers

and restart Apache. Then alter your configuration to include:

RequestHeader edit Destination ^https http early

This probably should go before any ProxyPass directives.

Then your config might look like:

RequestHeader edit Destination ^https http early

ProxyPass /svn http://your.real.svn.server/svn
ProxyPassReverse /svn http://your.real.svn.server/svn
<Location /svn/>
  Require all granted

(Note this is for a gateway system where other locations can proxy to other application servers.)

Published by

Jamie Scott

IT Administrator at the Institute for Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow