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From André Warnier>
Subject Tomcat (re-)packaging, relocation etc..
Date Tue, 12 May 2009 11:39:15 GMT

Picking up on a recent (mild) comment on this list :


Note that relocating everything means that when posting your users post
questions to this mailing list we're likely to say "who's the idiot that
scattered all the directories all over the place? try downloading a
fresh version of Tomcat and see if all your problems go away?".


I wonder if it is not time to "make peace" on this issue and maybe 
trying to find a reasonable middle ground.

An installation of the complete official Tomcat under 
/usr/local/tomcatx.y, including logfiles, webapps, etc.. is undoubtedly 
the simplest case for someone here trying to offer support to some 
bewildered user.
At the same time, it is not the configuration that most users have when 
they come here for help.

Also, application packagers for various systems have undoubtedly a 
number of reasons for doing what they do, and it is also undoubtable 
that the availability of software packaging and distribution mechanisms 
greatly facilitate the life of system administrators and a whole bunch 
of users.
And these packagers have to deal not just with Tomcat, but with hundreds 
of applications which vie for the same or alternative resources, and try 
to bring some modicum of order into this chaos.

And yes, some packagers for some platforms seem to have great fun in 
scattering Tomcat things all over the place, and creating a maze of 
symlinks where the most seasoned of Tomcat developer quickly loses his 

My point is that packaging of applications, considering its many 
practical advantages, is here to stay.  That implies also putting 
logfiles for all applications in some generally common place, 
configuration files ditto, added user applications ditto, etc..

So why not try, at the Tomcat development level, to take some steps to 
make this easier, while providing a framework that helps in diagnosing 
issues and simplify the life of experts on this list and others.

For instance, the startup of Tomcat already uses the JAVA_HOME variable 
to locate the appropriate jvm, the CATALINA_HOME to find the code, 
CATALINA_BASE to find the instance-specific stuff etc..

So why not add some variables like CATALINA_LOGS, CATALINA_WEBAPPS 
etc.., whose value would by default be what they are now (such as 
$CATALINA_BASE/webapps) but which could also easily be "redefined" by 
the application packagers when needed ?
(And I mean without the need for these people to become real Tomcat 
experts and go digging in the server.xml, context.xml etc..).

And why not add a standard program/script/webapp to Tomcat, which prints 
out a few lines containing the platform type, Tomcat version, location, 
jvm version and location, webapps location, logfiles location, and so 
on, so that we could in this forum ask that posters first and for all 
execute this command or webapp and prefix their messages with the output ?
Only that, would already save a significant percentage of the bandwidth 
on this list.

I know that this is to some extent a naive request, and that there are 
some aspects that may be more difficult than others, but is it possible 
to approach this issue in a positive, rather than recriminative fashion ?

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