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How to Install Tomcat on Ubuntu 18.04

Tomcat, often called Apache Tomcat, is one of the most popular applications designed to execute a Java servlet and render web servers with Java page coding. It is an open source application released by Apache Software Foundation. It’s favored by many developers! That’s why in this tutorial, we’ll show you how to install Tomcat on Ubuntu 18.04 and set it up for use on your VPS!

Tomcat generates JSP files (server-generated webpages similar to PHP and ASP files) into Java code, further compiling to .class files by the server, and executed by the Java virtual machine. As of today, Tomcat is definitely one of the more useable servlet containers available.

Benefits of Apache Tomcat

  • Tomcat is a quick and easy way to run your applications in Ubuntu. It provides quick loading and helps run a server more efficiently
  • Tomcat contains a suite of comprehensive, built-in customization choices which enable its users to work flexibly
  • Tomcat is a free, open-source application. It offers great customization through access to the code
  • Tomcat offers its users an extra level of security
  • Thanks to its stability, even if you face issues in Tomcat, it doesn’t stop the rest of the server from working

How to Install Tomcat on Ubuntu

This tutorial will teach you how to install Tomcat 9 on Ubuntu 18.04, and how to configure it for use. The same tutorial applies to Ubuntu 16.04 and other Ubuntu-based distributions.

Before you begin with the guide, have a non-root user with sudo privileges set up on your server. Remember to access your server with SSH. Check out our PuTTY tutorial if you’re having issues.

Step 1: Install Java

Before we install Tomcat on Ubuntu, we need to install Java to execute the Java web application code. OpenJDK is the default Java development in Ubuntu 18.04. Installing Java is simple and quick. Just follow the below commands:

sudo apt update

Install the OpenJDK package by running:

sudo apt install default–jdk

Now that JDK is installed in your system, you can create the user tomcat by following the next step.

Step 2: Create Tomcat User

For security, you should not use Tomcat without a unique user. This will make the install of Tomcat on Ubuntu easier. Create a new tomcat group that will run the service:

sudo groupadd tomcat

Now, the next procedure is to create a new tomcat user. Create user members of the Tomcat group with a home directory opt/tomcat for running the Tomcat service:

sudo useradd -s /bin/false -g tomcat -d /opt/tomcat tomcat

Step 3: Install Tomcat on Ubuntu

The best way to install Tomcat 9 on Ubuntu is to download the latest binary release from the Tomcat 9 downloads page and configure it manually. If the version is not 9.0.17 or it’s the latest version, then follow the latest stable version. Just copy the link of the core tar.gz file under the Binary Distributions section.

Now, change to the /tmp directory on your server to download the items which you won’t need after extracting the Tomcat contents:

cd /tmp

To download from the copied link (from Tomcat website), use the following curl command:

curl -O https://www-us.apache.org/dist/tomcat/tomcat-9/v9.0.17/bin/apache-tomcat-9.0.17.tar.gz

Step4: Update Permissions

Now that you finished the install of Tomcat on Ubuntu, you need to set up the Tomcat user to the have full access to the Tomcat installation. This user needs to have access to the directory. Follow the steps below:

sudo mkdir /opt/tomcat
cd /opt/tomcat
sudo tar xzvf /tmp/apache-tomcat-9.0.*tar.gz -C /opt/tomcat --strip-components=1

Now, give the Tomcat group ownership over the entire installation directory with the chgrp command:

sudo chgrp -R tomcat /opt/tomcat

Next, you need to give the Tomcat user access to the conf directory to view its contents and execute access to the directory itself:

sudo chmod -R g+r conf
sudo chmod g+x conf

Make the Tomcat user the owner of the web apps, work, temp, and logs directories:

sudo chown -R tomcat webapps/ work/ temp/ logs/

Step5: Create a systemd Unit File

We will need to create a new unit file to run Tomcat as a service. Open your text editor and create a file name tomcat.service in the /etc/systemd/system/:

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/tomcat.service

Next, paste the following configuration:

[Unit]
Description=Apache Tomcat Web Application Container
After=network.target

[Service]
Type=forking

Environment=JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk-amd64/jre
Environment=CATALINA_PID=/opt/tomcat/temp/tomcat.pid
Environment=CATALINA_Home=/opt/tomcat
Environment=CATALINA_BASE=/opt/tomcat
Environment=’CATALINA_OPTS=-Xms512M -Xmx1024M -server -XX:+UseParallelGC’
Environment=’JAVA_OPTS.awt.headless=true -Djava.security.egd=file:/dev/v/urandom’

ExecStart=/opt/tomcat/bin/startup.sh
ExecStop=/opt/tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh

User=tomcat
Group=tomcat
UMask=0007
RestartSec=10
Restart=always

[Install]

WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save and close the file after finishing the given commands above.

Next, Notify the system that you have created a new file by issuing the following command in the command line:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

The following commands will allow you to execute the Tomcat service:

cd /opt/tomcat/bin
sudo ./startup.sh run

Step6: Adjust the Firewall

It is essential to adjust the firewall so the requests get to the service. Tomcat uses port 8080 to accept conventional requests. Allow traffic to that port by using UFW:

sudo ufw allow 8080

Follow the command below to access the splash page by going to your domain or IP address followed by :8080 in a web browser – http://IP:8080

Step 7: Configure the Tomcat Web Management Interface

Follow the command below to add a login to your Tomcat user and edit the tomcat-users.xml file:

sudo nano /opt/tomcat/conf/tomcat-users.xml

Now, define the user who can access the files and add username and passwords:

tomcat-users.xml — Admin User
<tomcat-users . . .>
<tomcat-users . . .>
<user username="admin" password="password" roles="manager-gui,admin-gui"/>
</tomcat-users>

For the Manager app, type:

sudo nano /opt/tomcat/webapps/manager/META-INF/context.xml

For the Host Manager app, type:

sudo nano /opt/tomcat/webapps/host-manager/META-INF/context.xml

To restart the Tomcat service and view the effects:

sudo systemctl restart tomcat

Step 8: Access the Online Interface

Now that you already have a user, you can access the web management interface in a browser. Once again, you can access the interface by providing your server’s domain name or IP address followed by port 8080 in your browser – http://server_domain_or_IP:8080

Let’s take a look at the Manager App, accessible via the link – http://server_domain_or_IP:8080/manager/html.

Make sure that you entered the account credentials to the tomcat-users.xml file.

We use the Web Application Manager to manage our Java applications. You can Begin, Stop, Reload, Deploy, and Undeploy all apps here. Lastly, it provides data about your server at the bottom of the page.

Now let’s look at the Host Manager, accessible via http://server_domain_or_IP:8080/host-manager/html/

From the Virtual Host Manager page, you can also add new virtual hosts that follow your application form’s guidelines.

Summary

Ubuntu supports Tomcat 6 and the latest version Tomcat 9 which includes new features to allow users to work freely on the application.

With this tutorial, your Tomcat installation is functional but entirely unencrypted, so other parties on a web browser can view or change the information or data, passwords, and other sensitive data. The only way to resolve this issue is to encrypt your connections with SSL.

The Author

Author

Edward S. / @edvardasstabinskas

Edward is Hostinger's copywriter. He's an expert communicator with years of experience in IT as a writer, marketer, and Linux enthusiast. IT is a core pillar of his life, personal and professional. Edward's goal is to encourage millions to achieve an impactful online presence. He also really loves dogs, guitars, and everything related to space.

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