Apache Tomcat on Debian 5 (Lenny)
Updated by Linode
This guide has been deprecated and is no longer being maintained.
Apache Tomcat is a free and open source software implementation for JavaServlets. It provides support for Java Server Pages (JSP), which power many popular web-based applications. You may choose to run Tomcat with either Sun’s Java implementation or the OpenJDK implementation of Java, and this document provides instructions for using either option.
This guide assumes that you have a working installation of Debian 5 (Lenny), and have followed our getting started guide to get your system working and up to date. We also assume that you have a functional SSH connection and root access to your server.
Tomcat version 6 was not included as part of Debian Lenny because of concerns that because of how packages work, packaging Tomcat would introduce a unique class of bugs into it. In any case, installing without apt just adds a few extra steps, and is easily accomplished.
Set the Hostname
Before you begin installing and configuring the components described in this guide, please make sure you’ve followed our instructions for setting your hostname. Issue the following commands to make sure it is set properly:
hostname hostname -f
The first command should show your short hostname, and the second should show your fully qualified domain name (FQDN).
Choose and Install a Java Implementation
Make sure your package repositories and installed programs are up to date by issuing the following commands:
apt-get update apt-get upgrade --show-upgraded
Before we begin, you must choose which implementation of the Java language you wish to use. Note that there is some variance in these implementations, and you should install a version that is compatible with the application that you are hoping to run and/or write. The “main” repository for Debian comes with the “open-jdk” implementation, which you would install by issuing the following command:
apt-get install openjdk-6-jdk
If you chose to run OpenJDK, then you can skip the remainder of this section. If you would like to run the Sun Microsystems implementation of Java, you must first edit the
/etc/apt/sources.list file and append the following two lines, as Sun’s licensing terms are considered non-free under the guidelines that govern inclusion in Debian’s “main” software repositories.
Add the following line to your
deb http://mirror.cc.columbia.edu/pub/linux/debian/debian/ lenny non-free
Update apt to get the necessary package lists:
Now you are ready to install Sun Java with the following command (acknowledging the license terms):
apt-get install sun-java6-jdk
Now you are ready to proceed with the Apache Tomcat install.
Installing Apache Tomcat
Download the latest version of Tomcat with the following command. You may need to install
wget first by issuing the command
apt-get install wget.
Confirm via MD5 hash that you’ve got an authentic package, by viewing the md5sum of the tomcat release and comparing the checksum with the output of the following command on from your server:
Note that you can (and should) feel free and encouraged to install the latest available version of Tomcat <http://tomcat.apache.org/download-60.cgi > available on the tomcat website, although the version numbers and checksums will change accordingly.
Extract the tomcat binary from the tarball with the following command:
tar -xzvf apache-tomcat-6.0.32.tar.gz
Move the resulting Tomcat directory to a permanent location by issuing this command:
mv apache-tomcat-6.0.32 /usr/local/tomcat
The scripts for controlling and interacting with Tomcat are located in the
Enable Tomcat to Start Automatically
Borrowing from the scripts described here you can enable Tomcat to start automatically with your system.
tomcat “init” file with the following content:
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# 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 start) sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh ;; stop) sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh ;; restart) sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh sh /usr/local/tomcat/bin/startup.sh ;; esac exit 0
Remember, if you installed open-jdk the
export JAVA_HOME line should read:
Make the script executable by issuing this command:
chmod +x /etc/init.d/tomcat
Finally, create symbolic links in the startup folders with these commands:
ln -s /etc/init.d/tomcat /etc/rc1.d/K99tomcat ln -s /etc/init.d/tomcat /etc/rc2.d/S99tomcat
Tomcat should now be totally functional and should start automatically with the system. In the future, if you need to start, stop, or restart, you can use the following commands:
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/etc/init.d/tomcat start /etc/init.d/tomcat stop /etc/init.d/tomcat restart
Test and use Tomcat
You can test your Tomcat installation by pointing your browser to
http://[yourdomain-or-ip-address]:8080/. By default, files are located at
You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.
This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.