Ubuntu Hardy - Installing Apache Tomcat

Apache Tomcat is a free and open source implementation for JavaServlets. It provides support for Java Server Pages (JSP), which power many popular web-based applications.

You can run Tomcat with either Sun's Java implementation or OpenJDK, and this document provides instructions for both options.

Choose a Java Implementation

Before we begin, you must choose an implementation of the Java language. Note there are some variances between them, and you should install a version that is compatible with the application you're planning to run or write.


The "main" repository for Ubuntu comes with the "openjdk" implementation, which you would install with the following command:
sudo apt-get install openjdk-6-jdk
If you do choose OpenJDK, then you can skip the remainder of this section.

Sun Java

Sun's licensing terms are considered non-free under the guidelines that govern inclusion in Ubuntu's "main" software repositories. So If you wish to install Sun Microsystems' implementation of Java, you must first edit your slice's 'sources.list' file.

On your slice, use nano or your preferred text editor to append the following two lines to '/etc/apt/sources.list':
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ hardy multiverse
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ hardy multiverse
Update apt to get the necessary package lists:
sudo apt-get update
Now you're ready to install Sun Java with the following command (acknowledging the license terms):
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk
With java in place on the slice, it's time to install Apache Tomcat.

Open Firewall for Port 8080

If you followed our initial setup guides for Ubuntu LTS, you'll probably need to open port 8080 in your slice's firewall. Otherwise, Tomcat will be inaccessible on your slice's public IP.

Go ahead and run through the iptables section of Ubuntu LTS Setup Guide. Then add the following line to your iptables rules:
-A INPUT -p tcp --dport 8080 -j ACCEPT

Installing Apache Tomcat

Download the latest version of Tomcat with the following command:
wget http://apache.mirrors.timporter.net/tomcat/tomcat-6/v6.0.20/bin/apache-tomcat-6.0.20.tar.gz
If you don't have wget installed, issue the command "sudo apt-get install wget" then try the download command again.

Extract the tomcat binary from the tarball with the 'tar' command:
tar -xzvf apache-tomcat-6.0.20.tar.gz
Then move the resulting Tomcat directory to a permanent location:
sudo mv apache-tomcat-6.0.20 /usr/local/tomcat
The scripts for controlling and interacting with Tomcat are located in the '/usr/local/tomcat/bin' directory.

Enable Tomcat to Start Automatically

Next create a tomcat "init" file:
sudo nano /etc/init.d/tomcat
Fill it with the following:
# Tomcat auto-start
# description: Auto-starts tomcat
# processname: tomcat
# pidfile: /var/run/tomcat.pid

export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun

case $1 in
        sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh
        sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh
        sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh
        sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh
exit 0
If you installed OpenJDK instead of Sun Microsystem's Java, the export JAVA_HOME line should read:
export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk
Now make the script executable:
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/tomcat
Finally, create symbolic links in the startup folders:
sudo ln -s /etc/init.d/tomcat /etc/rc1.d/K99tomcat
sudo ln -s /etc/init.d/tomcat /etc/rc2.d/S99tomcat
Tomcat should now be totally functional and should start automatically when the slice reboots.

In the future, if you need to start, stop, or restart, you can use the following commands:
sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat start
sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat stop
sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat restart

Test and use Tomcat

Start Tomcat on your slice, and then test it by pointing a web browser to your slice's IP address. You should be greeted with Tomcat's standard "Congratulations!" page:
Tomcat Welcome Screen

Note that by default, Tomcat servers content stored in '/usr/local/tomcat/webapps/ROOT/' .


Installing Tomcat is straightforward, whether you prefer OpenJDK or Sun's Java.

Your slice is now equipped with a free and powerful means to host JavaServlets!


Article Comments:

John Hurst commented Wed Jan 27 19:32:09 UTC 2010:

Nice article.

I'd be inclined to create a "tomcat" user account to run Tomcat as, rather than running as root.

In the init.d script instead of

sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh

for example, you'd have something like:

su - tomcat -c /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh

and so on for other commands.


John Hurst

Eric commented Thu Mar 04 09:12:25 UTC 2010:

Thanks for the great article. One thing to note, if you came from the Ubuntu Hardy setup page linked above (http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/25/ubuntu-hardy-setup-page-1), you need to insert the iptables entry before the http(s) entries:

Allow Tomcat to run on port 8080

-A INPUT -p tcp --dport 8080 -j ACCEPT

Allows HTTP and HTTPS connections from anywhere (the normal ports for websites)

-A INPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT

Paul Pagel commented Wed May 19 14:11:47 UTC 2010:

The links for apache tomcat are outdated. Use:


Shaaf commented Fri Dec 17 14:29:00 UTC 2010:

good post!

Diego Benna commented Thu Jan 13 13:18:29 UTC 2011:

See this link:


for install tomcat7 on Linux (Ubuntu 10.10 tested)

keerth516 commented Tue Apr 12 06:41:44 UTC 2011:

how to create "tomcat" user account to run Tomcat as, rather than running as root.

please let me the procedure to change it.i want to change the tomcat root mode to user.i have changed the code base in ROOT.xml file after creating symbolic from /usr/share/tomcat5.5-webapps/ROOT to /home/username/tomcat.but the tomcat server doesnt working at all.please help me out in this issuse.

thanks in advacne!!

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