Installing Tomcat 8 on OS X Yosemite

Published on March 15, 2015 by

Installing Tomcat 8 on OS X Yosemite is actually quite easy. One can do it with the help of Homebrew or MacPorts, but I prefer to do it “by hand”. All you have to do is to follow the steps below.

First, head over to the Apache Tomcat download page and download the core binary distribution in the tar.gz format. Once downloaded, the rest of the work will be done within the Terminal. Start by extracting the downloaded archive.

cd ~/Downloads
tar -zxvf apache-tomcat-8.0.20.tar.gz

The file name of course depends on the particular version that you downloaded. Once extracted, we will move the folder into the /usr/local directory, first ensuring that it exists (even though it should).

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local
sudo mv ~/Downloads/apache-tomcat-8.0.20 /usr/local

Now we will remove any Tomcat installation that could theoretically already be at /Library/Tomcat and create a new symbolic link to the installation directory. By creating a symbolic link, the path to our Tomcat 8 installation is more convenient and can easily be updated if a new version of Tomcat is installed. Thus, we would not have to update configurations in applications that may be using Tomcat, such as an IDE.

sudo rm -f /Library/Tomcat
sudo ln -s /usr/local/apache-tomcat-8.0.20 /Library/Tomcat

Now we will just set the owner of the directory and files recursively, and make sure that the scripts are executable.

sudo chown -R /Library/Tomcat
sudo chmod +x /Library/Tomcat/bin/*.sh

At this point, Tomcat 8 should successfully be installed on your Mac. To start it, simply use the following commands.

cd /Library/Tomcat/bin
./ start

Similarly, to stop it, use the following commands.

cd /Library/Tomcat/bin
./ stop

That is it! You should now be able to access Apache Tomcat’s welcome page on http://localhost:8080. If you wish to make starting and stopping Tomcat 8 a little simpler, then you could create a few convenience commands on OS X.

Author avatar
Bo Andersen

About the Author

I am a back-end web developer with a passion for open source technologies. I have been a PHP developer for many years, and also have experience with Java and Spring Framework. I currently work full time as a lead developer. Apart from that, I also spend time on making online courses, so be sure to check those out!

7 comments on »Installing Tomcat 8 on OS X Yosemite«

  1. Jon

    sudo chown -R /Library/Tomcat
    I had to explicitly put specify root to make it work. sudo chown -R root /Library/Tomcat

    sudo chmod +x /Library/Tomcat/bin/*.sh
    I couldn’t make it work. It throws error:
    chown: +x: illegal user name

    I am working on MAC OS X El Capitan and using apache-tomcat-8.0.26

    • Ah, the steps in the article worked for me on Yosemite. Thank you for sharing this!

      • Morgan Lemke

        This worked perfectly fine for me in El Capitan.

  2. Angela

    Thanks a lot!

    • You are welcome – happy to help! :-)

  3. Richard

    Hi Bo, this page is really quite helpful. However, the change of ownership command can’t ever work, even on Yosemite, which I am also using.

    Richards-MacBook-Pro:Tomcat rwilliams$ sw_vers -productVersion
    Richards-MacBook-Pro:Tomcat rwilliams$ pwd
    Richards-MacBook-Pro:Tomcat rwilliams$ sudo chown -R /Library/Tomcat
    usage: chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] owner[:group] file ...
           chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] :group file ...

    The other command works, but because the default in “chmod” is to apply the change to all levels of User, Group, and World (“ugw”). I’m searching forums because I want to know what the correct change is, but I’m experienced enough to be cautious of this being the appropriate choices, since giving Execute privilege to everyone on the Catalina shell scripts is probably a huge security no-no.

    For the super-newbies, here’s some background explanation about why we see this issue and have to try and solve it:

    When you unpack the archive, the distribution has the development project’s users names/groups on the files. Your systems won’t have those same usernames, so you have to change the ownership. Also, in your system the Groups will likely be different. So you find yourself using “sudo” to get Tomcat to Startup and Shutdown … but you don’t really want to do that because, maybe, your use-case won’t be allowed to use sudo.

    So, if you want to start Tomcat without using Sudo, you have to change these permissions, and if you don’t it’ll say touch: /Library/Tomcat/logs/catalina.out: Permission denied.

    That’s because when a user tries just “./”, the script tries to run as whatever user you happen to be logged-in as. That user does not have some critical permissions: For instance, they don’t have +w on /Library/Tomcat/logs, so the Catalina can’t perform a “touch” on the /…/logs/catalina.out file. Likewise, without the +x (Execute) permissions, starting Tomcat without Sudo will throw touch: /Library/Tomcat/logs/catalina.out: Permission denied.

    The Startup only tries to “touch” (create) that file if the file does not already exist, because the rest of the Tomcat server behaviors will try to append to the log file … and if the file is missing those log-write commands will fail with “file not found” I/O errors.

    So I, like many other readers, don’t know what the correct ownership/permission target – User, or Group, needs to be given those permission? Yes, I can guess, and I can give huge-permissions to the whole world and get it going … but that’s not the point: What we’re all trying to figure is, what is the correct level of permissions and to whom?

    … and so the search for the specific (and correct) answer goes on :)

    • Hello Richard,

      Thank you very, very much for your detailed comment! Actually, those commands worked perfectly well on my MacBook running OS X Yosemite at the time of the writing. Either way, you are right about the permissions. The reason why I am so “generous” with the permissions is two-fold; firstly, given that this article is related to OS X, the target audience is developers needing to install this on their development machines. In theory, this may not be the case, and I might have to make this more clear in the article. Also, I am by no means a UNIX guru, so this was just what worked for me.

      My particular setup has always been shielded off from the Internet, so I haven’t really thought much about this.

      Thanks a lot for the feedback!

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