You can install Subversion by compiling its source code release directly, or you can install one of the prepackaged binaries if there is one for your operating system. Unless a release has "alpha", "beta", or "rc" in its name, it is tested and considered stable for production use.
When upgrading, just install "on top of" the older release. Subversion 1.x is forward-compatible with any newer 1.y. No repository upgrade is required. As long as client and server both have the same major release number (1), olders clients will work with newer servers and newer clients will work with older servers. The only caveat is that if the client and server minor release numbers don't match (e.g., 1.0 and 1.1), then some of the features of the newer release may not be activated.
To build Subversion from a source code release:
When your build is complete, you should find the 'svn' binary in the subversion/svn/ subdirectory (or installed in /usr/local/bin/, if you ran 'make install').
Subversion's source code is stored in the
subversion tree of the
repository of the Apache Software Foundation.
You can checkout the latest version of the code
using the following command:
$ svn co http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/subversion/trunk subversion
The project also produces nightly source code snapshots based upon the latest development sources. These are available as nightly source releases, and are only recommended for people who would like to test cutting-edge new features. These are not for production use!