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Re: FLOSS and servlets: recommendations

On Sunday 06 August 2006 21:45, MrDemeanour wrote:
> Andrew Vaughan wrote:
> >
> > In Sarge, Tomcat4 shipped in contrib.
> > http://wiki.debian.org/Java/ShouldGoToMain states "Works with Kaffe
> > 1.1.3 but need non-free JDK to compile (com.sun.* classes)"
> I've seen that page; I couldn't find a timestamp on it, but it looked
> old-ish. 

Kaffe 1.1.3 was in unstable jan/feb 2004, so that comment was probably 
written around that time.  Whilst the comment is old, it probably still 
applies to the version of tomcat4 in sarge.

> Anyway, Tomcat 4 is deprecated on the Apache site. Maintenance 
> now occurs on Tomcat 5. 

Debian seems to be following suit.  Tomcat4 has been removed from testing 
and unstable.    

> I'd prefer to revert to Tomcat 4 - I don't like 
> the new logging arrangements in Tomcat 5 - but 5 is where development is
> happening, and I guess that any Tomcat appearance in Sarge/main is going
> to be 5.

Debian stable is uh, stable.  Except for security bugs or other serious 
bugs, it doesn't get updated. 
> > This build dependency on non-free software means Tomcat4 couldn't go
> >  to main, and had to go to contrib.
> >
> > This appears to have been fixed with Tomcat5.  Tomcat5 is in main in
> >  Etch and Sid and Tomcat5.5 is in main in experimental.
> OK, thanks. I'd like to stick with Sarge, but if I want to use
> main/Tomcat, then I need a Sid or Etch system.

If you prefer tomcat4, why not just use the packages in contrib.  Everything 
in contrib is supposed to be free software.  It just has build and/or 
runtime dependencies on non-free software.  

If you want to use debian's Tomcat5 packages, then a quick look at the 
dependencies suggest that a mixed sarge/etch system is probably ok iff 
you're prepared to run a Sun/IBM jre/jdk.  You could also create an etch 
chroot and run Tomcat from there.
> Is there some place I can keep up-to-date on what is going on with
> Tomcat 5.5 in Etch?
You could subscribe to the individual packages at
for further info.

> >> I know how to install Sun Java and Tomcat on a Debian system; but
> >> as I say, I'm using only main, and I don't want to start bringing
> >> in non-free or contrib material, for reasons related to maintenance
> >>  and stability, as well as to politics. So what is the best servlet
> >>  container that is consistent with the use of the main repository?
> >>  Why is there no comment on this in the Debian-Java FAQ?
> >
> > Hopefully someone using java servlets can answer this one.
> Yes. I think I understand why jserv might not appear, but I don't know
> why Jetty is absent. Can Jetty also not be built using free tools? It
> seems that Jetty is available as a commercial product, so I wonder if
> Jetty is partially encumbered with licensing problems? Or build
> problems, like Tomcat was, maybe?  

Jetty is in contrib (unstable only).  A quick look shows no obvious reason 
why it couldn't be moved to main, so it may still be in contrib purely 
because no-ones gotten around to moving it.  (It build-depends on ant, 
which was in contrib when Jetty was first uploaded.)


> I'm still at a loss to understand why it's so hard to find pages on the
> web that deal with the state of servlets on free operating systems, and
> are also up-to-date. 

Both of the following google queries turn up over 10 pages of results.  
Whether they're any good is of course another matter.

> The impression I have is that people who run 
> servlets on Debian today don't really care too much about freeness. They
> all seem to be using Sun runtimes. But I haven't been searching on
> "Fedora servlets" - perhaps FC5 is the way to go. Seems a shame.

I suspect that many of people hosting commercial apps are probably running 
on top of Sun's/IBM's jre/jdk, mainly because Sun's jre/jdk is the 
implementation that things tend to be tested/certified against.  (And in 
the commercial hosting world, where downtime equals dollars, that matters). 

A good place to ask is probably somewhere the J2EE developers hang out, eg 
the javalobby.org forums.
> But I'd sooner do it with Debian/Sarge/main, even if that means I can't
> use Tomcat. And I don't mind participating in a testing effort. It's not
> a commercial project that I'm doing, after all.

Testing is always welcome, but there is little point testing sarge, since 
sarge is stable, and only serious bugs will be fixed.


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