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Java Developer VPS: From Apache to Tomcat

by Tim Attwood on September 21, 2011

TomcatLinux VPS development environments are some of the most powerful currently available on the Web for users to make the most of their resources without affecting the local servers they run. While Windows server development environments are growing in popularity, Linux and its many flavors remain the development OS of choice, in large part because of the number of free and open source (FOSS) options that exist for users to choose from. These FOSS server applications can allow you not only to take advantage of the support of the communities which have built them, but also to modify and enhance them – so long as you share your modifications with the community. Two of the most powerful development platforms for a Linux VPS are Apache and one of its community projects, Tomcat. Together, Apache and a Tomcat VPS solution can provide a powerful Java development and testing environment.

Apache and the Tomcat

JavaApache is a software foundation formed in 1999 that is aimed at developing FOSS applications to be used with Linux. This decentralized community of developers has created a number of projects ranging from the Apache HTTP Web server to Hivemind and Gump. They have also created a large number of Java projects including Jakarta, a server-side Java application, Hadoop, a Java software framework, and Tomcat, which is a Web container for servlets and JSP.

Apache Tomcat, also known as Jakarta Tomcat or just Tomcat, is a servlet container that functions as a Java applet on a server, rather than a browser. It uses the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages (JSP) from the Oracle Corporation, and is intended to provide a Java Web server environment that is “pure” and that will allow Java code to be run as efficiently as possible. Currently running version 7.0.21, Tomcat is supported by a wide variety of developers and is constantly undergoing changes in order to maximize its use to developers and users alike, and several high-profile companies such as Wal-Mart use Tomcat as their Java platform of choice.

Java is a powerful tool for Web development, and a Tomcat Linux environment can be an effective way to develop new and creative ways to use this FOSS tool. Tomcat has been designed specifically to work on a server, rather than as a browser applet, which means that for development purposes you will have two choices – install it on your local server, or choose a hosted option, such as a VPS. While a dedicated local server can be used to deploy, develop and bug-check JSP projects, such testing does present a number of downsides, including the fact that your local OS may get in the way – if you’re running Windows, for example, you’ll need a separate server for Tomcat and whatever flavor of Linux you choose. In addition, any projects that are deployed on a local server have the possibility to negatively affect that local server, leading to anything from a minor crash to a full wipe, depending on the nature of the Java development. Add to this the fact that heavy-load testing may slow down your internal network, and a Java VPS environment may present your best option.

What a Tomcat Java VPS Can do for You

In addition to providing a “clean” environment in which to run Apache and Tomcat, a Java VPS can give you the ability to test – and break – any of your Java applications with no risk to your local server. All developers working on a project can collaborate on the version currently deployed on the server, and when it comes time for testing, can choose to test the project under any load. Should it crash the server, only a quick re-boot will be necessary, and it will not affect others on the VPS, or any of your local systems. In addition, developers will be able to access the testing server from any networked computer with the proper permissions, giving projects the ability to mature more rapidly, and be tested with less potential risk. This can speed overall project development and allow for quicker adaptation and evolution of apps in a dedicated Java environment.

The Apache Tomcat environment is a powerful tool for developing Java applications, and when paired with a VPS hosting solution can provide not only a viable way to create and modify Java applications, but do so in a clean, conflict-free environment.

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Randy5 September 22, 2011 at 7:12 AM

If Walmart uses Tomcart, then it has my interest.

Stoddard September 22, 2011 at 7:13 AM

Having crashed more than my share of servers, the idea of a quick reboot as a solution appeals to me.

Rusher September 22, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Some developers might not like having to share their advancements with the entire community, but I think this is a great idea and will really help spur new technologies.

Texas2Step September 23, 2011 at 1:14 PM

That’s true, Rusher. Forcing developers to share their innovations means app technology will grow at an exponential rate rather than progress steadily ahead.

OhDonna September 27, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Plus, the fact that servers are not at all at risk at should lead to more adventuresome app testing, which also might bring about technological breakthroughs.

silkysmooth October 18, 2011 at 8:45 PM

i just hope this sort of system won’t lead to even more patent disputes!

Tony July 8, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Rusher, et al, I think you guys misunderstood. Tomcat is open source, but developing an app on Tomcat does not require you to share your source. Open source licenses only apply to extensions or other changes. So, if I made my own customized Tomcat server (like Springsource tc-server) then I’d have to make those changes available. However, just using FOSS software does is not necessitate sharing your own software.

Tony July 8, 2012 at 2:14 PM

By the way guys – Tomcat has been around since 1999 and is and has been the most popular servlet container in existence. If the FOSS model were going to be a problem hen it would have happened years ago.

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