Book review: Pro Tomcat 6 by <i>Matthew Moodie</i>

Book review: Pro Tomcat 6 by Matthew Moodie


The Apache Tomcat server is the most well known and deployed Servlet container for dynamic Java based web applications. Pro Apache Tomcat 6 by Matthhew Moodie (edited by Kunal Mittal and published by Apress) explains in exacting, systematic and well covered detail how to manage the latest version of this high quality, popular free software product.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

My first impression of the book was that the book enacts the required effort of explaining configuration and administration consistently and without thrills, getting immediately right down to the point.

This medium sized tome is, by design, much more an integrated book for the server administrator than a programming support for the web application builder. If you wish to understand the difference between JSP 2.1 or Servlet 2.5 and previous versions supported by older versions of Tomcat, then another more Java-orientated book is required.

This book has an effective and well targeted range of content covering all the areas one is likely to encounter in a typical enterprise environment

The contents

Pro Apache Tomcat 6 contains 335 pages of no-nonsense, honest, accurate content. The book is split into fourteen chapters. Details range from installation, configuration, and authentication, securing and connecting with other web servers. Basically, step by step, inch by inch, the book covers the full range of activities a system administrator will, through the rampant course of application deployment, get their hands dirty with. This book has an effective and well targeted range of content covering all the areas one is likely to encounter in a typical enterprise environment.

As a part-time programmer of web applications, I particularly enjoyed chapter 8 ("Understanding class loaders"). A number of issues I have had in the past were associated with class loader order and/or Java security policies. Once past the basic structure of a WAR file, this is the laser guided line that a realistic and deployment-scared programmer or application troubleshooter needs to learn quickly.

Chapter 12 on the highly specific subject of security was also a delight to read; on a number of occasions I have personally been bitten by SSL/TLS server certificate issues and the clear recipe included is one route to avoidance of one’s own latenight stupidities.

An obvious must for admins working at internet service providers or data centers is Chapter 13, implementing shared Tomcat hosting the chapter describes one plausible recipe that if correctly followed creates a basic and effective virtual hosting environment.

Who’s this book for?

The Apress book is for server administrators that wish to systematically understand the global details of realistically instancing and administration of Tomcat 6.

To a much lesser extent the content is also an enabler for programmers that wish to understand the finer nuances of their deployment landscape.

Relevance to free software

Tomcat with Apache connected through mod_jk or as part of the Jboss application infrastructure is an overwhelmingly positive advert for why anyone would want to buy into free software. This excellent server is stable, scalable, evolving with a dedicated community and better than or competitive with indirectly expensive proprietary products.

Unavoidably, and fairly, Windows is mentioned as well as GNU/Linux for the installation instructions.

Matthew Moodie’s book systematically emphasizes the technologies involved with administration, discussing mainly Tomcat and briefly mentioning other free software products such as Jmeter a stress testing tool, MySQL and certificate manipulation via openSSL libraries and the Java included keytool.

Tomcat is an overwhelmingly positive advert for why anyone would want to buy into free software

Pros

This book is Tomcat administration made clear: if you wish to set up a properly configured instance or set of instances of Tomcat, and understand the best practices for linking code to via XML configuration to databases, this book is for you.

This book is Tomcat level administration made clear

Cons

If you are a Java developer wishing for more on the latest value added from JSP 2.1 or Servlet 2.5, then a book purely focused on administration misses your goals.

Title Pro Apache Tomcat 6
Author Matthew Moodie
Publisher APRESS
ISBN 1590597859
Year 2007
Pages 325
CD included No
FS Oriented 9
Over all score 8

In short

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Alan Berg's picture

Biography

Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

You may contact him at reply.to.berg At chello.nl