I'm new to unix and trying to create a guide for users to install subversion. I've found a tutorial about how to build from a tarball. I'm ready to try it out, but I don't know how to download the file from the command line from a web address. Can someone please provide the command I would need, and also which directory I should do it from? What does unpack it mean? Generally translate these instructions like I'm an 8 year old. Thanks:

Download the most recent distribution tarball from:


  Unpack it, and use the standard GNU procedure to compile:

      $ ./configure
      $ make
      # make install

  You can also run the full test suite by running 'make check'.
  • 3
    One should not use make install but rather the package manager to install software i.e. for Debian, apt-get install subversion or for Gentoo emerge subversion as these provide easy and reliable removal via apt-get remove subversion and emerge -c subversion respectfully.
    – Dan D.
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:46
  • Users don't need to install anything. They just use what has been installed once by sysadmin.
    – mouviciel
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


First of all, if you are on a unix host with a package manager: Use that and skip the rest.

Read on if you do need to build it manually:

Download the most recent distribution tarball from: http://subversion.apache.org/download/

Go to that webpage and download the tarball. You can open that webpage in a graphical browser such as firefox to get a nice display, or you can use a text based browser such as lynx, links or w3m to see the page.

On that page is a link to subversion-1.7.9.tar.gz. Download that file and save it somewhere. How you do this depends on the browser used. Usually it is just hoovering your mosye pointer over it and clicking on that link (graphical) or using the cursor keys to navigate to it and press Enter and 'save as' (most text browsers).

Once you know the URL you can also download it with
wget http://apache.mirror.1000mbps.com/subversion/subversion-1.7.9.tar.gz

Unpack it, and use the standard GNU procedure to compile:

Unpacking the downloaded file is easy. If it was a zip then you would use unzip subversion-1.7.9.zip. In this case it is a .tar.gz and you use tar xzf subversion-1.7.9.tar.gz. (Tar, eXtract, gZipcompressed File).

That will leave you with a directory with all the files you need.

In this directory type ./configure

This will start the command configure in the current directory, which will configure things for you.

Then type make. This will compile the program using the recipe found in a file called Makefile.

Finally, switch to a user with sufficient rights to install package (e.g. root, the unix version of admin) and make install. This will install the software.


To download it on the commandline you would use wget (Linux) or on BSD fetch and append the URL. Unpacking means extracting one of the archives that the webpage offers, so if you want the zip-file from your link and do it in your home directory the commands would look like this:

cd ~
mkdir subversion && cd subversion
wget http://tweedo.com/mirror/apache/subversion/subversion-1.7.9.zip
unzip subversion-1.7.9.zip
make check

Another example with fetch and the .tar.gz-version of the file:

cd ~
mkdir subversion && cd subversion
fetch http://tweedo.com/mirror/apache/subversion/subversion-1.7.9.tar.gz
tar -xzf subversion-1.7.9.tar.gz
make check

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