Easily set up and automatically start Apache Tomcat 7 Java web server in Ubuntu Linux

Apache Tomcat is actually easier than the standard Apache webserver to set up, which is great news if you are working with Java based web applications. All you need to do is download it and make sure it starts with whichever linux distribution you are using. Deploying applications in standard WAR format is really easy as well due to the simple web based management interface.

In my case I wanted Tomcat to start with Ubuntu and sit on the default port 8080 so I could have it running alongside my standard Apache webserver for PHP. We were developing a Spring application and used Maven to build and compile to a single deployable WAR file. You must have Java installed and set up for this to work. To check you have Java set up type:

java -version

This should tell you what version of java you have installed (hopefully Java 1.7). You also need to check that the “JAVA_HOME” variable is set by typing:


If you don’t get something like “/usr/lib/jvm/jdk1.7.0_09″ please install Java following my installation instructions in a previous post.

To install Apache Tomcat first of all I downloaded the latest copy of Tomcat 7 from mirrorservice.org using wget run from my home directory:

wget http://www.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.apache.org/tomcat/tomcat-7/v7.0.32/bin/apache-tomcat-7.0.32.tar.gz

Please note that the version I downloaded may not be available or there may be a newer version so check http://www.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.apache.org/tomcat/tomcat-7/ first before running the wget.

“wget” will download the file, which then needs to be extracted:

tar xvzf apache-tomcat-7.0.32.tar.gz

Now you will have a folder “apache-tomcat-7.0.32″ in your home directory. This needs placing somewhere sensible so copy it to “/usr/share/tomcat7″ using:

sudo mv apache-tomcat-7.0.32/ /usr/share/tomcat7

Now you can test your Tomcat install works with its default settings by starting it up. Note: before you do this you need to set the “JAVA_HOME” variable otherwise you will get errors (see my previous post).

To start up Tomcat navigate to “/usr/share/tomcat7″ and run “startup.sh”:

cd /usr/share/tomcat7


With the default settings you should now be able to reach your Tomcat server home page by navigating to “http://your.ip.add.ress:8080″ where you should hopefully see the homepage and a nice message saying:

“If you’re seeing this, you’ve successfully installed Tomcat. Congratulations!”

Now we need to set up management users for the manager app so we can easily deploy our WAR files containing our Java web applications. You need to edit “/usr/share/tomcat7/conf/tomcat-users.xml”:

sudo nano /usr/share/tomcat7/conf/tomcat-users.xml

Now add the following lines within the “<tomcat-users>” block to give access to the manager GUI:

<role rolename=”manager-gui”/>
<user username=”MANAGERUSER” password=”YOURPASSWORD” roles=”manager-gui”/>

Now you will be able to log in to the manager GUI at “http://your.ip.add.ress:8080/manager/html” using the login details MANAGERUSER and password YOURPASSWORD. You can deploy applications and generally manage your Tomcat install from here.

The final thing to do is to set up Tomcat so that it starts every time your server starts. This is pretty easy as all you need to do in Ubuntu is edit the “/etc/init.d/tomcat7″ file:

sudo nano /etc/init.d/tomcat7

Now enter the following lines:

# Tomcat auto-start
# description: Auto-starts tomcat
# processname: tomcat
# pidfile: /var/run/tomcat.pid

case $1 in
sh /usr/share/tomcat7/bin/startup.sh
sh /usr/share/tomcat7/bin/shutdown.sh
sh /usr/share/tomcat7/bin/shutdown.sh
sh /usr/share/tomcat7/bin/startup.sh
exit 0

Set the permissions for the file:

sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/tomcat7

Add Tomcat to system startup as a service using the command:

sudo update-rc.d tomcat7 defaults

Now you can test that Tomcat is set up as a service using:

sudo service tomcat7 restart

Now to check everything is working on system startup reboot your machine using:

sudo reboot now

Navigate to “http://your.ip.add.ress:8080″ where the Tomcat home page should appear with no problems. Note: If you are having problems reaching your Tomcat home page make sure you have opened port 8080 on your server’s firewall.

It’s definitely worth reading some of the documentation on Tomcat, plenty of which is linked off your newly installed Tomcat home page. You should now have all you need to deploy your Java web applications as WAR files which is really easy using the manager GUI provided by Tomcat.