Apache Tomcat is an open source web server that implements the Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages, Java Expression Language and Java WebSocket technologies. It can also serve static HTML pages.
This How-To describes how to set-up Tomcat to deliver static HTML pages as well as web applications packed as Web application ARchives (WAR).
Tomcat requires the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which is included in various packages from the Alpine community repository.
Which package to install? There are couple of questions you need to answer first:
- Which version do you need?
- Do you need a JRE only or Java Development Kit (JDK)?
At the time of writing (March 2021), the most popular Java versions were Java 8 and Java 11. Java 8 is a minimum required version for Tomcat versions 9 and 10.
If you plan to use Java to run Tomcat only and you don’t need tools included in JDK, you may leverage on packages containing a JRE only with no GUI support. Package with no GUI support are also named “headless”.
To install OpenJDK 8 Java Runtime (no GUI support), execute the command:
To install OpenJDK 11 (JRE headless), execute the command:
To install OpenJDK 8 package, execute the command:
To install OpenJDK 11, execute the command:
To check which Java version is currently installed, execute the command:
Tomcat has to be downloaded from the Apache Tomcat homepage. You need the Binary Distribution Core, download it, save it in a place where you can easily find it and extract it into a folder of your choice. As most other manuals for Tomcat use /usr/local/tomcat, this manual will assume that Tomcat is extracted there as well and call it $TOMCAT$ from now on.
Tomcat should run without any further configuration. Switch to $TOMCAT$/bin and execute the following command:
You should see a list of folders, the installed tomcat version, OS name, processor architecture and so on. If this fails, either the installed version of tomcat is somehow incompatible with the installed version of Java or one of the two programs was not properly installed.
If the first test succeeded, you can test the server itself by running catalina.sh with the start command.
Several lines of text should appear, the last line should read Tomcat started.
Now, point a browser on the same computer that Alpine runs on to http://127.0.0.1:8080/. You should see a page that says If you are seeing this, you successfully installed Tomcat. Congratulations!.
There are two ways to publish documents with Tomcat: Either a dynamic java application (for example a wiki, a forum, or a blog) or as static pages (HTML, images). Tomcat is specialized on dynamic applications, which are usually deployed as WAR file.
Installing a WAR file is easy: Simply copy it to $TOMCAT$/webapp. Tomcat will automatically install it to a folder with the same name as the WAR file (whatever is written before the .WAR extension). For example, if you install jspwiki.war, you can open the wiki on https://127.0.0.1:8080/jspwiki/.
To deliver static content, you need to edit the file server.xml in the folder $TOMCAT$/conf.
Find the <Host appBase="webapps"> section in the server.xml, and add the entry <Context docBase="/home/stuff" path="/static" /> directly before the closing </Host>. Replace /home/stuff with the folder where you will save your static files. The /static is the part of the URL you need to open your static files, it can be changed to whatever you like.
More detailed description how serving static content with tomcat works.