Installation Steps

  • Download and install Tomcat. It's usually as simple as unzipping it in a directory. Let's call this directory TOMCAT_HOME.
  • Extract the XWiki WAR into a directory named xwiki in TOMCAT_HOME/webapps/. The reason you're expanding the WAR is because you'll need to modify one configuration file from inside the WAR later on when you configure the database access.
  • Edit your conf/server.xml to set UTF-8 encoding: <Connector port="8080" ... URIEncoding="UTF-8"/>

Activate headless mode

If you're operating XWiki on a Linux server with no X11 libraries installed you have to enable headless mode for your Tomcat installation. Sometimes this is also needed on Windows platforms. Typical exceptions are:

  • Exception: Could not initialize class sun.awt.X11.XToolkit
  • java.lang.InternalError: Can't connect to X11 window server using 'localhost:10.0' as the value of the DISPLAY variable
  • On Linux create a file /TOMCAT_HOME/bin/ and insert the following code:
    export JAVA_OPTS="${JAVA_OPTS} -Djava.awt.headless=true"
  • On Windows create a file /TOMCAT_HOME/bin/setenv.bat and insert the following code:
    set JAVA_OPTS=%JAVA_OPTS% -Djava.awt.headless=true.
  • When running as a Windows service the setenv.bat is not working. See registry HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Apache Software Foundation\Procrun 2.0\FOOBAR\Parameters\Java for similar settings.

Optional configuration

  • Edit your conf/server.xml to enable gzip compression: <Connector port="8080" ... compression="on" compressionMinSize="2048" compressableMimeType="text/html,text/xml,text/css,text/javascript,application/x-javascript"/>
  • If you want to modify the port on which Tomcat will run, edit TOMCAT_HOME/conf/server.xml/. Search for 8080 (sometimes 8180 if you are under Linux) and replace with the port value you wish to use.
  • It is possible to setup a Tomcat Java Server as a UNIX Daemon - JSVC. Just follow these instructions. The only reason to make Tomcat a daemon is to make it runnable on the 80th port, which can be replaced by using NginX as a proxy on the 80th port and then forwarding to Tomcat to the 8080th port.

Nginx proxying for Tomcat applications

As Tomcat is not a true web server, it's worth to use it as backend. Nginx is one of the best solutions for the frontend web server.

So, after a typical XWiki installation we have XWiki running on http://localhost:8080/xwiki. Most probably, we want to access XWiki via on standard 80 port. Tuning Nginx will give us the desired result:

  • create this file /etc/nginx/conf.d/tomcat.conf
  • put the following code inside:
    server {
       listen       80;
    # Root to the XWiki application
       root  opt/tomcat/webapps/xwiki;

       location / {
    #All "root" requests will have /xwiki appended AND redirected to again
           rewrite ^ $scheme://$server_name/xwiki$request_uri? permanent;

       location ^~ /xwiki {
    # If path starts with /xwiki - then redirect to backend: XWiki application in Tomcat
          proxy_pass http://localhost:8080/xwiki;

  • restart nginx

Now all* requests will lead to the XWiki application. Please note that these settings are basic. For more flexible solutions please refer to the Nginx documentation.


Out Of Memory Error

When you run XWiki in Tomcat with the default settings, you may get an Out Of Memory error (java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space or java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space), especially if you're trying to import large files into your wiki. To solve this allocate more memory to the JVM. For Tomcat this can be done by setting the JAVA_OPTS environment property (to allocate 1GB you would set JAVA_OPTS to -Xmx1g). Another important option is the MaxPermSize parameter. Example: -XX:MaxPermSize=256m allocates 256MB of permanent memory. It is recommended to allocate at least 512m for heap space, and 128m for PermGen space.

On most Linux distributions, this can be done in /etc/tomcatX/tomcatX.conf or /etc/conf.d/tomcatX.conf (where X is the version of Tomcat installed):

JAVA_OPTS="${JAVA_OPTS} -Xmx1024m -XX:MaxPermSize=256m"

On Windows, if you are running Tomcat as a service then defining JAVA_OPTS will not help. There is an utility provided in the bin folder of your Tomcat installation (for example for Tomcat 5.x on Windows it's called tomcat5w.exe). It's a GUI tool which can be used to set various options including the heap size.

Java Security Manager

By default Tomcat is configured to have the Java Security Manager turned on. See the sample policy file for more details.

If you want to turn off the Java Security Manager for Tomcat, edit the Tomcat startup script. You might also want to check your /etc/init.d/tomcat file or /etc/default/tomcat5.5. You should see the following code:

# Use the Java security manager? (yes/no)

Set it to no to turn off the Security Manager.

Allowing "/" in page names

Tomcat completely freaks out when there's a %2F in URLs and it's not something that can be changed in XWiki. See this note for more information.

You can configure Tomcat to allow this, by enabling :


SEVERE: Error listenerStart

If you get this error in your Tomcat logs then you'll need to enable finer-grained logging configuration to see what's the problem. For Tomcat 6.x this involves copying the following content in a WEB-INF/classes/ file:

org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase.[Catalina].level = INFO
org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase.[Catalina].handlers = java.util.logging.ConsoleHandler

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