Tomcat : Running Tomcat as a Service in Linux

This page last changed on Jun 19, 2006 by Kees de Kooter


(Based on the tomcat documentation in

Tomcat can be run as a daemon using the jsvc tool from the commons-daemon project. Source tarballs for jsvc are included with the Tomcat binaries, and need to be compiled. Building jsvc requires a C ANSI compiler (such as GCC), GNU Autoconf, and a JDK.

Before running the script, the JAVA_HOME environment variable should be set to the base path of the JDK. Alternately, when calling the ./configure script, the path of the JDK may be specified using the --with-java parameter, such as ./configure --with-java=/usr/java.

Building the service wrapper

Using the following commands should result in a compiled jsvc binary, located in the $CATALINA_HOME/bin folder. This assumes that GNU TAR is used, and that CATALINA_HOME is an environment variable pointing to the base path of the Tomcat installation.

Please note that you should use the GNU make (gmake) instead of the native BSD make on FreeBSD systems.

tar xvfz jsvc.tar.gz
cd jsvc-src
chmod +x configure
cp jsvc ..
cd ..

Run as service

Tomcat can then be run as a daemon using the following commands.

    ./bin/jsvc -Djava.endorsed.dirs=./common/endorsed -cp ./bin/bootstrap.jar \
        -outfile ./logs/catalina.out -errfile ./logs/catalina.err \

jsvc has other useful parameters, such as -user which causes it to switch to another user after the daemon initialization is complete. This allows, for example, running Tomcat as a non privileged user while still being able to use privileged ports. jsvc --help will return the full jsvc usage information. In particular, the -debug option is useful to debug issues running jsvc.

The file $CATALINA_HOME/bin/jsvc-src/native/ can be used as a template for starting Tomcat.

Make sure the user set as TOMCAT_USER should be able to access the tomcat directories and any exploded wars residing outside CATALINA_HOME.

Note that the Commons-Daemon JAR file must be on your runtime classpath to run Tomcat in this manner. The Commons-Daemon JAR file is in the Class-Path entry of the bootstrap.jar manifest, but if you get a ClassNotFoundException or a NoClassDefFoundError for a Commons-Daemon class, add the Commons-Daemon JAR to the -cp argument when launching jsvc.

Copy the edited shell script to etc/init.d (I called it just tomcat). Make sure it has the x flag set. Tomcat can now be started from the command line like so

service tomcat start

Start at boot time

I want to run tomcat in runlevel 5, like apache and have it start just after apache.