Easily deploy Oracle REST Data Services on Apache Tomcat 10.1

Free and open source software (FOSS) has become an integral part of our lives. For those of us developing, hosting or supporting software applications anyway. Whether it’s a web server, a database, or a programming language, open source software is everywhere. That could be a single jar or javascript library, a framework, a utility or an entire software stack. It is hard to avoid it. Sometimes the free and open source option is the reference implementation for a specification which has a commercial alternative but it can be difficult to justify the cost of paying for that software. More often then not, one can find that modern commercial software systems are built with, or rely on, some form of free and open source software. It’s no surprise, considering all the benefits that come with it. Here are just a few reasons why it makes sense to use FOSS.

The case for free and open source

The reasons for choosing free and open source are compelling.

First and foremost, FOSS is free. This means that you don’t have to pay for a license or subscription, which can be a huge cost savings. It also means that you don’t have to worry about license renewals or updates. All of the software is available for free and can be used indefinitely.

Second, FOSS is open source, which means that anyone can view and modify the code. This makes it easier for developers to customise the software to meet their needs, and it can be a great way to learn programming.

Third, FOSS is typically more secure than proprietary software. The code is open, so any potential security vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed quickly. Additionally, many of these programs are built by volunteers and have a large community of users who can help identify and fix bugs.

Finally, and slightly similar to the previous point, FOSS can have a faster turnaround of fixes than proprietary software. Since the code is open, developers are more likely to fix bugs and make improvements more quickly. This can mean fewer interruptions to your workflow.

Overall, free and open source software makes a lot of sense for individuals and businesses alike. With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why FOSS has become so popular.

Hidden costs to the convenience

Complex systems involve a lot of components which need to be maintained

Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the importance of upgrading their open source software. Upgrading the components of the system is essential for keeping your system secure, stable, and up to date. Over time, vulnerabilities are discovered in software packages and the only way to fix these vulnerabilities is to upgrade to the latest version. By not upgrading, you are essentially leaving your system open to malicious attacks. You are not taking advantage of a core FOSS benefit.

As outlined earlier, upgrading to the latest version of a software component can give you access to bug fixes and performance enhancements that make your system more reliable and efficient. Furthermore, new features can be added to software packages to make them even more powerful and useful. Finally, upgrading open source software can help you stay ahead of the competition. By keeping your software up to date, you can ensure that you are using the latest technologies and staying ahead of the curve. This can help you gain an edge over your competitors and give you a competitive advantage. In conclusion, upgrading open source software is essential for keeping your system secure, stable, and up to date. It also can give you access to bug fixes, performance enhancements, and new features. Finally, it can help you stay ahead of the competition and give you a competitive advantage. So make sure you keep your open source software up to date!

Oracle REST Data Services does rely on components from third parties including FOSS components and critical vulnerabilities and exploits are regularly monitored for known issues that would require an upgrade. Not only that, keeping on top of the security support commitments for those libraries. That is one of the reasons ORDS moved to Eclipse Jetty 10 last year. When a new version of ORDS is available, it is recommended to upgrade as soon as possible.

Why upgrade to Apache Tomcat 10.1 though?

With complex dependencies an upgrade is not always easy

Upgrading is easier said than done though. The interdependencies of the components in a software system can be quite complex. Upgrading to the latest version of one component could cause another component to no longer work. There is a tension between trying to keep existing systems running, introduce new applications / functionality and reduce complexity / costs in the runtime environment.

Which sets the scene for why we’re discussing Apache Tomcat 10.1. Why would someone want to use Apache Tomcat 10.1?

Support considerations

We can expect Tomcat versions released after 2007 to have around 10 years of support before they reach end of life. Tomcat 7, for example, was released in 2011 and reached end of life in 2021. Tomcat 9.0 was released in 2017 and declared stable in 2018. At the time of writing, version 9.0.71 was released earlier this month. No end of life date has been specified but one can expect it to be around 2027. With five years to go for new releases with fixes to bugs and security vulnerabilities there’s no pressing need to move off Tomcat 9.0. However, with Tomcat 8.5 scheduled for EOL at the end of March 2024 anyone currently using Tomcat 8.5 in production would be considering the stable release with the longest runway: Tomcat 10.1.


At this point you’ll note that Tomcat 10.0 does not get a mention. It has already reached it’s EOL and no further builds for that particular release will happen, irrespective of any CVE reported against it. The most likely motivation for moving to Tomcat 10.1 is because it is a Jakarta EE platform.  It builds on Tomcat 10.0.x and implements the Servlet 6.0JSP 3.1EL 5.0WebSocket 2.1 and Authentication 3.0 specifications (the versions required by Jakarta EE 10 platform). For businesses or individuals that deploy multiple applications there may be a conflict with wanting to use Jakarta Servlet API based web applications in the same infrastructure they have Javax Servlet API based web applications. The main difference between Javax Servlet API and Jakarta Servlet API is the addition of new features in the Jakarta version. Jakarta Servlet API adds features such as asynchronous servlet requests, Non-blocking IO, improved security, and better integration with other Jakarta EE APIs. Having one single version of Apache Tomcat to maintain would be preferable.

ORDS running on Apache Tomcat 10.1

Your Jakarta Servlet API based applications and ORDS on the same Apache Tomcat 10.1 !
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

ORDS is a web application based on the Javax Servlet API and as such can not be deployed as a regular web application in Tomcat 10.1 which expects web applications to be implemented using Jakarta Servlet API. Thankfully, Apache has provided a comprehensive migration guide to help make transitioning from any version of Tomcat 9 to Tomcat 10 as simple as possible. In addition to that, there is a migration utility which converts the java byte code of the javax.servlet.HttpServlet classes to jakarta.servlet.http.HttpServlet classes. This is really useful because it makes it possible to deploy the generated ords.war using the Apache Tomcat migration tool for Jakarta EE.

Referring to the Deploying ORDS on Apache Tomcat instructions it is simply a matter of generating the ords.war to the correct location:

ords --config /path/to/config war $CATALINA_HOME/webapps-javaee/ords.war

It really is as simple as that. This article was originally going to be a step by step guide but when you get down to it, there’s only one step!

Strictly speaking, Apache Tomcat 10.1 is not an officially supported release of Tomcat for deploying ORDS. At the time of writing it is Tomcat release 8.5.x through to release 9.0.x. Therefore, if there are any ORDS issues encountered the first thing you’ll be asked to do is see does the same issue occur with latest version of ORDS deployed on a recent Tomcat 9.0.x release.

Use of the Apache Tomcat migration tool for Jakarta EE to have ORDS running on Apache Tomcat 10.1 is worth considering if one has Jakarta Servlet API based web applications to deploy and only want a single version of Tomcat running.

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