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Book Review – Tomcat: The Definitive Guide By Jason Brittain With Ian F. Darwin

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Apache Tomcat is a web container, or application server developed at the Apache Software Foundation. Tomcat implements the Java Servlet and the JavaServer Pages (JSP) specifications from Sun Microsystems, providing an environment for Java Code to run in cooperation with a web server. Tomcat: The Definitive Guide was written to help you understand how and why Tomcat was developed.

Tomcat: The Definitive Guide has been updated to work with the latest version of Tomcat. In this second edition, you will find details on running Tomcat on all major platforms such as Windows, Linux, OS X, Solaris, and FreeBSD. Tomcat: The Definitive Guide is 476 pages in length and is divided into 11 chapters.

Chapter 1, "Getting Started with Tomcat," begins by giving you the knowledge to make informed decisions on the choices that are available when installing Tomcat. This chapter focuses on installation and setup. Chapter 2, "Configuring Tomcat," describes when you should use Tomcat as a standalone web server and when it should be used as a servlet container. You will learn how to turn on and turn off the auto-reloading of servlets, how to relocate the webapps directory, as well as other topics such as how to enable common gateway interface scripting. This chapter finishes up with an introduction to Tomcat administration.

Chapter 3, "Deploying Servlet and JSP Web Applications in Tomcat," explains the layout of a web application, how to deploy a web application, and how to deploy individual servlets and JSP pages. Chapter 4, "Tomcat Performance Tuning," shows you how to measure and improve your Tomcat performance. You will adjust the number of processor threads, JVM, and OS performance issues as they relate to Tomcat. You will also learn how capacity planning can affect performance.

Chapter 5, "Integration with Apache Web Server," examines that even though Tomcat can perform as a standalone Web Server, it can "thrive" in front of, or behind Apache httpd web server. Chapter 6, "Tomcat Security," will help you protect your site from being attacked from those who think it is OK to exploit vulnerabilities in your server software.

Chapter 7, "Configuration," explains the Tomcat configuration files; server.xml, web.xml, tomcat-users.xml and context.xml. Each of these can be modified to control how Tomcat works. Chapter 8, "Debugging and Troubleshooting," describes what can be done to diagnose problems. Here you will learn about what to look for in the log files, how the web browser interacts with Tomcat, and how to get specific, detailed information about a particular request.

Chapter 9, "Building Tomcat from Source," shows you how to compile your own version of Tomcat. Here you are shown step-by-step how to install the Apache Ant build tool and build your own Tomcat. Chapter 10, "Tomcat Clustering," explains how you can run multiple Tomcat servers. This may mean you have too much traffic than one Tomcat can handle or you can't afford for your Tomcat to go down. Chapter 11, "Final Words," finishes up with some words on Tomcat's open source project's community resources. This includes books, sites, and more.

Tomcat: The Definitive Guide is very well written, concise, and to the point. It does not try to cover everything about Tomcat and therefore does not dilute what it does cover. It focuses on administration, not development and as such, is for administrators.

Along with covering installation well, Tomcat: The Definitive Guide also covers security and performance in good detail. When it tells you what you need to do, it follows up by showing you how to confirm that it is done correctly; it doesn't just assume that it was done it now will work as many books do. The only downside is that the author is Linux centered. It would be nice to be more neutral throughout the book.

If you need to run Tomcat, then Tomcat: The Definitive Guide is a must-have. It will keep you out of trouble and have your Tomcat server running smoothly long into the future.

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About T. Michael Testi

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