Install Apache Tomcat On Ubuntu 20.04/18.04 / CentOS 7 With Ansible

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Apache Tomcat is a free and open-source HTTP server designed to serve Java web pages. Tomcat is an implementation of the Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages, Java Expression Language, and Java WebSocket technologies. It is widely deployed and powers various mission-critical web applications around the world.

The standard way of installing Tomcat on a Linux system such as Ubuntu/CentOS/Debian is manual and time-consuming. This guide will discuss a better way, which is automated and can be reproduced easily.

I wrote an Ansible role to simplify the process. The link to the Github project is shared below.

Ansible role to setup tomcat

Environment Setup

I assume you have a CentOS 7+, Ubuntu 16.04+ system with Systemd service manager. This Ansible installation won’t work for Upstart or Sysvinit.

Step 1: Install Ansible

The main dependency on your Workstation is Ansible. Install Ansible on your Linux system using the commands shared below.

###### CentOS  ######
sudo yum -y install epel-release && sudo yum -y install ansible

###### Fedora  ######
sudo dnf -y install ansible

###### Ubuntu / Linux Mint ######
sudo apt -y update
sudo apt -y install software-properties-common
sudo apt-add-repository --yes --update ppa:ansible/ansible
sudo apt update
sudo apt -y install ansible

###### Debian ######
sudo apt -y update
sudo apt -y software-properties-common
echo "deb trusty main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ansible.list
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 93C4A3FD7BB9C367
sudo apt update
sudo apt install ansible

###### Arch/Manjaro ######
$ sudo pacman -S ansible

###### macOS ######
sudo easy_install pip
sudo pip install ansible

Confirm ansible installation:

$ ansible --version
ansible 2.9.23
  config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
  configured module search path = ['/home/rocky/.ansible/plugins/modules', '/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules']
  ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/ansible
  executable location = /usr/bin/ansible
  python version = 3.6.8 (default, May 19 2021, 03:00:47) [GCC 8.4.1 20200928 (Red Hat 8.4.1-1)]

Step 2: Clone Ansible role from Github

The tomcat ansible role is available publicly on Github for use. Clone it to your workstation.

git clone
cd tomcat-ansible
  • Update your inventory, e.g:
$ vim hosts
  • Update variables in playbook file – Set Tomcat version, remote user and Tomcat UI access credentials
$ vim tomcat-setup.yml
- name: Tomcat deployment playbook
  hosts: tomcat-nodes       # Inventory hosts group / server to act on
  become: yes               # If to escalate privilege
  become_method: sudo       # Set become method
  remote_user: root         # Update username for remote server
    tomcat_ver: 9.0.52                          # Tomcat version to install
    ui_manager_user: manager                    # User who can access the UI manager section only
    ui_manager_pass: [email protected]      # UI manager user password
    ui_admin_username: admin                    # User who can access bpth manager and admin UI sections
    ui_admin_pass: Str0ng[email protected]          # UI admin password
    - tomcat

Check Tomcat version on the releases page.

When using non root remote user, become_method is necessary.

become: yes
become_method: sudo

Step 3: Install Apache Tomcat 9 With Ansible

Once all values are updated, you can then run the playbook against your nodes.

Playbook executed as root user – with ssh key:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts tomcat-setup.yml

Playbook executed as root user – with password:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts tomcat-setup.yml --ask-pass

Playbook executed as sudo user – with password:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts tomcat-setup.yml --ask-pass --ask-become-pass

Playbook executed as sudo user – with ssh key and sudo password:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts tomcat-setup.yml --ask-become-pass

Playbook executed as sudo user – with ssh key and passwordless sudo:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts tomcat-setup.yml --ask-become-pass

A successful installation output will show output similar to below.

PLAY [Tomcat deployment playbook] **********************************************************************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *********************************************************************************************************************************
Enter passphrase for key '/var/home/jkmutai/.ssh/id_rsa': 
ok: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Add the OS specific variables] **********************************************************************************************************
ok: [ubuntu01] => (item=/tmp/tomcat-ansible/tmp2/tomcat-ansible/roles/tomcat/vars/Debian.yml)

TASK [tomcat : include_tasks] **************************************************************************************************************************
included: /tmp/tomcat-ansible/tmp2/tomcat-ansible/roles/tomcat/tasks/tomcat-setup-Debian.yml for ubuntu01

TASK [tomcat : Ensure the system can use the HTTPS transport for APT.] *********************************************************************************
ok: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Install APT HTTPS transport.] ***********************************************************************************************************
skipping: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Install basic packages] *****************************************************************************************************************
[WARNING]: Updating cache and auto-installing missing dependency: python-apt

changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Install Default Java (Debian/Ubuntu)] ***************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Add tomcat group] ***********************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Add "tomcat" user] **********************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Download Tomcat] ************************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Create a tomcat directory] **************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Extract tomcat archive] *****************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Copy tomcat service file] ***************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Start and enable tomcat] ****************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Set UI access credentials] **************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

TASK [tomcat : Allow access to Manager and Host Manager apps from any IP] ******************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01] => (item=/usr/share/tomcat/webapps/host-manager/META-INF/context.xml)
changed: [ubuntu01] => (item=/usr/share/tomcat/webapps/manager/META-INF/context.xml)

RUNNING HANDLER [tomcat : restart tomcat] **************************************************************************************************************
changed: [ubuntu01]

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************************************************************************************
ubuntu01                   : ok=16   changed=12   unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=1    rescued=0    ignored=0   

Step 4: Test Tomcat Installation

Visit the server URL on port 8080. to test tomcat installation and configuration.


  • Tomcat web application manager dashboard: http://:8080/manager/html
  • Tomcat virtual host manager dashboard: http://:8080/host-manager/html

You can also access the web application manager and host manager by clicking the UI buttons:


Authentication is required when accessing both sections.

Server Status page:


Web application manager page:


Virtual Host manager page:


Enjoy your Java web apps management with Tomcat.


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A systems engineer with excellent skills in systems administration, cloud computing, systems deployment, virtualization, containers, and a certified ethical hacker.