on February 19, 2004
This book is a great, concise guide to setting up and administering Tomcat. No assumptions are made that you have years of Java or system administration experience. The book directly tackles ninety-eight percent of the questions that the average Tomcat administrator is going to have without having to sift through thousands of pages of worthless fluff. I was able to sit down and read the book over a single weekend.
As concise and straightforward as the book is, it still takes on the more complex topics like Building Tomcat from Source, Tomcat Security, and Tomcat Clustering. But I imagine that, like me, you will end up permanently creasing the book binding on Chapter 7: Configuration Files and Their Elements. Especially if you actually end up setting up and running Tomcat.
In typical O'REILLY style the book is well organized and well written. It is not one of those technical books that require reading the same sentence three times just to understand its content. Instead the authors have an easy to read style that gracefully flows from topic to topic.
Thanks to the authors Jason Brittain and Ian F. Darwin and of course to O'REILLY for another worthy edition to my reference library.
on January 31, 2004
Tomcat The Definitive Guide is absolutely a must have for anyone setting up Tomcat. I have a Mac OS X machine and the directions in the book were perfectly clear as to how to setup, auto-start when rebooting, and a huge number of other points. What I love about this book and in general all of the O'Reilly books is their ability to cover the issues completely without too much explanation or too little. This book always points you to where you can get more information. It's also got a great discuss on whether to integrate Apache with Tomcat or just run Tomcat. I changed the way I had it configured after reading their very thoughtful discussion.
This book is excellent as a reference for JSP developers as well (of course if you are doing JSP under Tomcat). It doesn't teach you how to do JSP. It does give you a good background for how your JSP pages are executed and how Tomcat reacts to requests.
on May 21, 2004
I found this easy to understand and comprehensive. Instructions are easy to follow. You can get started in less than 10 minutes. The first chapter covers the installation in almost all operating systems where Java is available, which is good especially if you are not using the mainstream OS's.
Most material can probably be found in Tomcat's website itself, but this book still has good value for money. You might also want to look at Wrox' "Professional Apache Tomcat", which is equally good. For advanced users, you might want to check "How TOmcat Works" (download sample chapters from the publisher's site first because as I said this is not for beginners) that covers beyond configuration and administration.
on November 24, 2003
In short, this book provides comprehensive instructions for almost anyone wanting to deploy the TOMCAT Server. This book is a good starting place for programmers or admins who expect to quickly understand basic concepts.
Chapter-by-chapter the book presents new concepts accompanied by examples and descriptions for installing, configuring, and some debugging of the servlet engine. While the book tends to be Unix-centric, information for other Operating Environments is provided. Each successive chapter tends to expand on the previous chapter increasing the reader's knowledge along the way. It adequately serves as an introduction to Tomcat but it is also a good book to keep around as a technical administrative reference.
The book provides specific information on Tomcat interfaces and components through a "user guide" type format. For example, information is presented for Tomcat's setup, configuration files, environment variables, servlets and JSP's, JDBC, SSL and much more. What this book is not is a programmer guide but is a good how-to for programmers wanting to administer the server. Examples are provided for using and running Tomcat as a stand-alone web server.
In summary, this book is a success in explaining the relatively technical concepts of Tomcat and also provides very useful and relevant information about Tomcat features.
on September 21, 2003
This is not yet one of those really "Definitive Guides" as O'Reilly has published so many in the past, and that so far have always helped me out. For a relatively unexperienced Web app developer like me, too many topics are left untouched.
For instance, not a word on the many class loaders used by Tomcat, of which the one used for applications is named WebappClassLoader - my initial lack of understanding of this Tomcat idiosyncrasy has caused me a lot of trouble in the past, and this book would not have helped me.
I'm also missing the expected good advice on how to use the various directories in the Tomcat tree (common, shared) for storing common jar files.
The several ways in which a web application can be configured (with or without web.xml, with or without mapping) are described, but how a full URL will look like in each variation is left as an exercise for the reader.
I have just started to scratch the surface of development with Tomcat, and no doubt I will later on find much of value in this book, but so far I am not impressed.
on September 6, 2003
Tomcat: The Definitive Guide is a great book about the most commonly used open-source servlet/JSP container. Tomcat is the official Reference Implementation for the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages technologies. Tomcat is really powerful and flexible, but you really need a good book to figure out how to integrate Tomcat with Apache, how to set load-balancers, clustering, etc on all of the major platforms, including Windows, Solaris, Linux, and Mac OS X.
This is where Tomcat: The Definitive Guide comes in. This really well written book makes it easy to follow for the developer as well as non-developer admin. The book starts with an introduction of Tomcat (v4.0) where you learn how to stop/start the server, learn about the directory structure, and learn to modify the start/stop scripts as well as the configuration settings. I really like the treatment given to security, realms and JAAS in the second chapter with more details in the sixth chapter. Most books of this type will leave out security and this book deals with it in the second chapter. Kudos to the authors for that.
I also really like the chapter on performance tuning that deals with real-world applications. The chapter on integration with the Apache webserver is really well written. Most people that deploy Tomcat in production will want to put Apache webserver in front of Tomcat to serve up static content like html and images while letting Tomcat handle servlets and JSPs. Most of the documentation about this Apache httpd - Tomcat integration on the Internet deals with v1.3 of Apache httpd. However, the book deals with Apache 2.0, which is another plus for the book.
I can go on and on - If you are using Tomcat, planning on using Tomcat or just want to learn more about the server, this book will provide you with all of the information to help harness Tomcat's power and wealth of features. I would highly recommend this book as a companion to any servlet/JSP programming book.
on August 2, 2003
Until I bought this book I had an agreement with Tomcat. Tomcat would serve my servlets like it was supposed to and I wouldn't try to pull any stunts. If I ran into something that wasn't working because of some setting or another in Tomcat, I avoided it. Now that I have this book, the agreement is off. This book is chock full of neat and useful tricks with some excellent examples. The book is very well written in true O'Reilly style (They even found a way to use the word "laconic" which I have never seen used in a computer book before). It illuminated various things I was unaware of, such as:
** How to run the web based Tomcat admin application
** Tomcat restart issues - this was especially interesting and gets to the heart of what java and tomcat really are.
** How to enable Tomcat's SSI servlet so that it will use your existing server-side includes
The book has lots of hints of the "I know how to do this in Apache httpd, but how do I do it in Tomcat?" variety. This is in addition to an entire chapter devoted to connecting Tomcat to Apache httpd.
The subject of a java web server will automatically bleed over into the subjects of Java and Unix and the book does a great job exposing the timid to Unix and Java concepts that help in understanding these technologies. For example, the book gives detailed instructions for setting up a chroot jail on a Unix type system.
I read the chapter on security several times because it is really foundational. It gets at the excellent security abilities of Java and explains them better than I have seen them explained elsewhere. It also gives the basics of possible vulnerabilities of any web application. The stuff in this section applies broadly to any Servlet container, but has a lot of specifics for Tomcat.
Obviously, all of the stuff in the book is available from the Java, Unix, or Tomcat documentation, but the book acts as a guide, pointing out key things in the documentation.
The only limitation of the book that I could tell was that the authors are exclusively from a Unix background. This has the result of making the book slanted towards Linux/Unix. There are a couple of things that the authors show how to do on Unix but leave the impression that there is no way to do it on Windows. For example they say, "Unix type operating systems, run netstat from the command line to see the open ports. You can do this on Windows as well. They also give a Unix shell script that organizes log files so that they look like Apache httpd log files. It would have been nice to offer one for windows as well or at least give a hint for how to do so. A lot of people use Tomcat on windows as a development environment and they should not be ignored.
In summary, the book succeeds in both broad concepts that deal with running any java web server and in exposing the finer details of Tomcat in particular. Another reviewer asked if this was really "Vital Information for Tomcat Programmers and Administrators" as the subtitle says. I would say yes. You get details of programming Tomcat through the configuration files and crucial details for how Tomcat settings affects how your servlets behave. Perhaps they are asking about messing around with the source code of Tomcat? Then no, it is not about programming Tomcat in that sense.
on July 7, 2003
I just got this book saturday (it's now monday) and this book has already helped me solve two problems and clairify my Tomcat thinking. This book is the best Tomcat book yet for Administrators. I have used the others (Professional Apache-Tomcat, Mastering Tomcat Development, and Apache-Jakarta Tomcat), but this one has been the best. It is very well organized and has some great helps in it. It does not try to cover everything, but it focuses on some. For example, Tomcat 3 is not covered by this book. Mod_webapp is not covered, but mod_jk2 is very well covered. The authors covers how to secure Tomcat through chroot (using a special file they ported from OpenBSD called jbchroot.c), run Tomcat as an unpriviledged user on port 80, Clustering with or without Apache, Apache integration is given REAL coverage. The best thing about this book is the focus on Administration and not development, this is obviously for administrators. The other books were focused on developers and were either way to short or had way too much scattered and confused information. Admins like things well organized and consistant.
If you are a Sys Admin and need a book on Tomcat administration, get this book and forget about the rest.
on November 18, 2003
If you are a System Admin, and you want to learn how to effectively run and maintain a Tomcat web server, this is the book for you. I found myself in this very situation not too long ago. After reading sparse Tomcat docs (and getting very confused) I bought this book, read it in a few days. Before long, I was running a proper Tomcat web server for a few users.
I cannot speak for the development side of this book, though I think this book gave a nice introduction to JSPs and servlets for someone who is not a Java programmer. I can speak for the administrative side of it, and it is very good.
The authors are very thorough in showing you how to setup a Tomcat server, and provide a couple different setups to use, and how to approach each. In addition, they cover security, dealing with users, and configuring the server.
For setting up and running a Tomcat server, this book is certainly a good buy. If you are a web server admin, take the time to read this book. :)
on July 5, 2003
Projects from Apache Jakarta must be hard to write about since they change so fast. The projects are open source and, in the case of Tomcat, considered to be specification implementations. This makes it very difficult to find an up-to-date text on the projects.
Tomcat: The Definitive Guide addresses the latest technology in the Tomcat project. You will find the latest information on configuring Tomcat and also on 3rd party tools related to the technology. It's the best book available on the topic...for now. Let's hope the projects reach some level of stability (like Apache, Linux, etc.) at which point books will be easier to write and more helpful.