Installing Tomcat on macOS 11 Big Sur

The Servlet 4.0 specification is out and Tomcat 9.0.x does support it. Time to dive into Tomcat 9.

Prerequisite: Java

Since OS X 10.7 Java is not (pre-)installed anymore, let’s fix that by installing a Prebuilt OpenJDK Binary. Easy to follow details about how to install OpenJDK are available here. Anyway, after opening the Terminal app,

java --version

hopefully shows something like this:

openjdk 11.0.9 2020-10-20
OpenJDK Runtime Environment AdoptOpenJDK (build 11.0.9+11)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM AdoptOpenJDK (build 11.0.9+11, mixed mode)

Whatever you do, when opening Terminal and running ‘java –version’, you should see something like this, with a version of at least 1.8.x I.e. Tomcat 9.x requires Java 8 or later.

sudo
sudo is a program for Unix-like operating systems, allowing you to run programs with the security privileges of another user (normally the superuser, or root). Since we are creating directories, outside of your home folder, administrator right are required. I.e., when executing sudo you will be asked to enter your password; and your Mac User account needs to be an ‘Admin’ account.

JAVA_HOME is an important environment variable, not just for Tomcat, and it’s important to get it right. Here is a trick that allows me to keep the environment variable current, even after a Java Update was installed. In ~/.zshrc, I set the variable like so:

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home)

Installing Tomcat

Here are the easy to follow steps to get it up and running on your Mac

  1. Download a binary distribution of the core module: apache-tomcat-9.0.40 from here. I picked the tar.gz in Binary Distributions Core section.
  2. Opening/unarchiving the archive will create a new folder structure in your Downloads folder: (btw, this free Unarchiver app is perfect for all kinds of compressed files and superior to the built-in Archive Utility.app)
    ~/Downloads/apache-tomcat-9.0.40
  3. Open the Terminal app to move the unarchived distribution to /usr/local like so:
    sudo mkdir -p /usr/local
    sudo mv ~/Downloads/apache-tomcat-9.0.40 /usr/local
  4. To make it easy to replace this release with future releases, we are going to create a symbolic link that we are going to use when referring to Tomcat (after removing the old link, you might have from installing a previous version):
    sudo rm -f /Library/Tomcat
    sudo ln -s /usr/local/apache-tomcat-9.0.40 /Library/Tomcat
  5. Change ownership of the /Library/Tomcat folder hierarchy:
    sudo chown -R <your_username> /Library/Tomcat
  6. Make all scripts in Tomcat’s ./bin folder executable:
    sudo chmod +x /Library/Tomcat/bin/*.sh

Tomcat 9.x

Starting and stoping Tomcat works with executing the provided scripts, like so:
/Library/Tomcat/bin/startup.sh
/Library/Tomcat/bin/shutdown.sh

Finally, after your started Tomcat, open your Mac’s Web browser and take a look at the default page: http://localhost:8080

8 Replies to “Installing Tomcat on macOS 11 Big Sur”

  1. Great tutorial and works brilliantly!

  2. Does installing Tomcat controller work for you? I download the DMG and I cant open it…

    1. I guess the Tomcat controller was never updated to 64 bit

  3. Worked great, thank you so much!

  4. this was helpful! Thanks for clear and concise guide.

  5. Yep, It has worked!
    Thank you!!!

  6. Cameron young says: Reply

    On the section ‘Change ownership of the /Library/Tomcat folder hierarchy:
    sudo chown -R /Library/Tomcat’

    I enter my username which is and I get zsh: no such file or directory: cameronyoung response. Not sure if anyone knows why?

  7. Worked on my Macbook Air M1 late 2020.
    Thanks

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